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Geraint Thomas’ hopes over as Tadej Pogacar ‘kills’ Tour de France rivals in dominant display

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Geraint Thomas hopes over as Tadej Pogacar ‘kills’ Tour de France rivals in dominant display – GETTY IMAGES / REUTERS

Pogacar seizes leader’s yellow with a ride for the ages

Teuns holds off chasers to win second career stage

Thomas finishes in grupetto, dropping down to 45th

Roglic plummets to 51st after another dismal day

Tadej Pogacar denied on Saturday night he had “killed” this Tour de France stone dead. But not many believed him. The Slovenian’s astonishing performance in the first mountain stage of the race, destroying his general classification rivals with a devastating attack from 30km out and soloing to the finish in Le Grand-Bornand as if he was on a Sunday morning club ride, has put him so far into the race lead that it is hard to see a way back for his rivals.

Pogacar’s (UAE Team Emirates) dominance was only made more pronounced by the fact Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), the two men who had been tipped to battle it out with him for the yellow jersey this year, both tumbled definitively out of contention.

On a cold, wet day as the race headed over the Jura mountains and into the Alps, Roglic and Thomas could no longer cope with the injuries sustained in Monday’s crash fest in Brittany. Thomas was dropped on the first climb of the day, straight out of Oyonnax, as the attacks fired off the front. Roglic lasted a little longer before he, too, was spat out the back.

Tadej Pogacar

Both finished in the grupetto more than 35 minutes behind stage winner Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Victorious), along with sprinters like Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and their climbing sherpas whose job it is to shepherd them to the finish inside the time cut.

Pogacar had already had time to down his Fanta Orange, finish his yellow jersey press conference, and had probably got back to the team hotel and had a shower by the time Roglic and Thomas rolled over the line, deep in conversation. A penny for their thoughts. This was a display of such strength it was bound to invite suspicion, given cycling’s past.

Pogacar had been riding in a group of contenders a few minutes behind the breakaway when he decided to launch his attack on the steep slopes of the Col de Romme, the day’s penultimate climb. “I saw that Ineos riders don’t feel the best,” he explained. “I saw how they talked to each other. And I said, ‘Let’s keep the pressure on them’. And on the second last climb, I attacked. And yeah, it worked. I paced myself to the finish.”

Geraint Thomas’ hopes over as Tadej Pogacar ‘kills’ Tour de France rivals in dominant display – SHUTTERSTOCK.

He certainly did. Pogacar climbed the Col de la Colombiere in the big ring, pulling away from his chasers in doing so. Richard Carapaz, the only prong left of Ineos’ famous ‘four-pronged’ attack, had tried desperately to go with him but could not hold his wheel for long. The Ecuadorian’s only chance would have been in the lorry, blocking the route at one point had failed to maneuver itself clearly in time.

Pogacar ate into the break’s lead with indecent haste, catching all but one of them by the finish. He crossed the line 49 seconds behind Teuns, having backed off at the end, allowing a couple of riders to re-pass him, content that he had done enough damage for one day. “Maybe it was a little payback from yesterday,” the 22-year-old admitted, referring to the way his team had been attacked on stage seven and had been forced to ride all day to limit their losses.

Whatever, it is difficult to see how Pogacar can be beaten now, barring injury or disaster. His lead may still ‘only’ be 1min 48seconds over Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma). Still, when you consider that van Aert began the day with a three-minute advantage over Pogacar but finished nearly five minutes behind him, and when you think that the next best rider on GC is Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko at 4min 38secs, you begin to realize it could be a long two weeks.

“I’ve not killed the Tour,” Pogacar insisted. “It’s still a long way to go. Anything can happen. Today I did a gap, but tomorrow, maybe someone else will.” Maybe, but after a thrilling first week, not many believe it.

03:17 PM

Pogacar-issimo! Defending champion rides into yellow.

Ion Izagirre (Astana-Premier Tech) takes second with Michael Woods (ISN) third after Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) appears to allow the pair to take the bonus seconds, safe in the knowledge that he has just wrestled the maillot Jaune off the shoulders of Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix). That was a dominant display from Pogacar and one that will leave the general classification riders scratching their heads wondering what, if anything, they can do to halt his progress to a second successive yellow jersey in Paris later this month. Absolutely terrifying.

03:15 PM

Teuns wins stage eight at the Tour!

He’s done it! Dylan Teuns managed to hold off Tadej Pogacar to win an absolutely enthralling stage at the Tour, the second of his career following the victory on La Planche des Belles Filles in 2019.

03:13 PM

2km to go

Dylan Teuns, who was very upset and angry with his team last year after being left out of its Tour de France squad, is going to do this. The Bahrain Victorious rider is moments away from landing the second Tour stage of his career.

03:10 PM

4km to go

Dylan Teuns is flying, and the Belgian could make back-to-back stage wins for Bahrain Victorious having increased his lead over Tadej Pogacar to 45sec.

03:08 PM

6km to go

Richard Carapaz, who is widely regarded as the biggest threat to Tadej Pogacar now at this year’s Tour de France, is 3min 30sec down on the UAE Team Emirates rider. Crikey. Dylan Teuns, meanwhile, is holding onto his lead over Pogacar – in fact, it has increased to 39sec.

03:06 PM

9km to go

Can Dylan Teuns do what no other rider has managed to do today and hold off a rampaging Tadej Pogacar? He currently leads by 30sec and so could do it.

03:04 PM

11km to go

Tadej Pogacar pursues Dylan Teuns on this descent, and the defending champion is looking relaxed. Further back, Richard Carapaz appears to be slowing. As a result, his rivals have closed the gap on him.

03:01 PM

14km to go

Michael Woods has been caught by Tadej Pogacar. Just one man – Dylan Teuns – is ahead of Pogacar at the summit of the Colombière. All about the descent and, possibly, a sprint at the line.

03:00 PM

15km to go

Dylan Teuns has dropped Michael Woods in the final kilometer of this last climb in today’s stage. I’m almost sure Tadej Pogacar is going to catch Teuns on the descent towards the line. The will be a lot of pressure on Teuns, and the roads are very wet; everybody will be praying everybody stays upright.

02:55 PM

16km to go

Tadej Pogacar flies past Simon Yates, the UAE Team Emirates rider who makes the Briton look pretty ordinary. Which he is not; he is a former grand tour winner.

02:54 PM

17km to go

Tadej Pogacar picks off each rider with ease, powering up the col de la Colombière in the big ring. This is Eddy Merckx-esque.

02:49 PM

18km to go

Dylan Teuns has bridged over to Michael Woods at the head of the stage, while Tadej Pogacar shows no sign of slowing. In fact, the defending champion trails the pair in two minutes now and with 4km of the col de la Colombière, the day’s final climb, to go. Once over the top, it is a descent to the finish.

02:41 PM

20km to go

Richard Carapaz has teammate Jonathan Castroviejo for the company. Time for a two-up time trial for the pair. It is a thoroughly rough old day out in the Alps today. Still, Tadej Pogacar can give the TV cameras a smile as he extends his lead offer to the rest of the general classification riders and closes the gap on stage leader Michael Woods. He couldn’t catch Woods up and take the stage, could he? This is an otherwordly performance from Pogacar.

02:36 PM

22.5km to go

Michael Woods remains out in front of the stage, the Canadian leading by 1min 17sec while Tadej Pogacar, who has blown the Tour de France apart today, is just under three minutes down.

Michael Woods – GETTY IMAGES

02:32 PM

25km to go

Richard Carapaz continues to chase, but having already lost 1min 20sec, one suspects it will be in vain. However, the Ineos Grenadiers rider can climb into the top three of the general classification should he stay away from the chasers.

02:31 PM

26km to go

Tadej Pogacar is riding into the yellow jersey today with a dominant ride that nobody can match. Providing he stays upright and does not have any significant mechanical problems, I just cannot see him being caught.

02:27 PM

29km to go

Tadej Pogacar is absolutely flying. Within around just one kilometer, the defending champion puts over 30 seconds into Richard Carapaz and is riding past those riders dropped from what was the leading group.

02:21 PM

Pogacar attacks!

Tadej Pogacar rises out of his saddle, spinning away at a high cadence. The Slovenian flies is off the front, and only Richard Carapaz can follow. Pogacar peers over his shoulder at Carapaz to invite him to take a turn on the show, but the Ecuadorian decides against it; moments later, the Ineos Grenadiers rider is dropped.

Richard Carapaz and Tadej Pogacar – GETTY IMAGES

02:17 PM

31.5km to go

The UAE Team Emirates pairing Davide Formolo and Tadej Pogacar sit at the front of the general classification group; Richard Carapaz moves around Ineos Grenadiers teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart to position himself on the defending champion’s wheel. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) is in this group, by the way.

02:14 PM

32km to go

Mathieu van der Poel has finally cracked. The big Dutchman drops out the back of the peloton, while Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) is grimacing as the Italian pulls hard on the front. By contrast, Tao Geoghegan Hart is sat on Formolo’s wheel and looks cool and composed in this rapidly dwindling group.

02:09 PM

34km to go

Michael Woods takes over on the front, the Canadian the lone leader of this stage. Inclines like this are meat and drink to the strong puncher.

02:07 PM

35km to go

Ineos Grenadiers are on the march with Michal Kwiatkowski and Tao Geoghegan Hart riding on the front of the peloton ahead of Richard Carapaz. Can they do any damage to Tadej Pogacar, or is the Slovenian just too strong? This col de Romme climb is not long, but it is very steep at an average gradient of 9.4%.

02:02 PM

36.5km to go

Tiesj Benoot cannot hold the wheel of teammate Soren Kragh Andersen as he heads up the col de Romme. As it stands, the Dane who is leading the Maillot Jaune by around six minutes is just 30sec away from taking the virtual lead at the Tour de France.

01:59 PM

De Bod crashes!

Stefan de Bod (Astana-Premier Tech), riding in the main bunch, has crashed and is receiving attention. After looking worryingly static, the South African managed to get back to his feet and hobbled around a little.

01:54 PM

40km to go

DSM team-mates Soren Kragh Andersen and Tiesj Benoot attack on the descent off the côte de Mont-Saxonnex. The team played this tactic at the recent Giro d’Italia when Damiano Caruso won the stage.

01:51 PM

Ion Izagirre takes a wrong turn

01:50 PM

Poel’s powers over the top

After Kenny Elissonde and Sepp Kuss clipped off the front of the leading group, the pair were shown a pair of clean heels by Wout Poels, who powered over the top of the côte de Mont-Saxonnex to add another 10 points to his tally in the mountains classification. As a result, the Dutchman becomes the virtual holder of the polka dot jersey.

01:46 PM

Nairoman on the hunt

Nairo Quintana is aiming for stage wins at this year’s Tour and lost time on purpose yesterday, his sports director Yvon Ledanois has confirmed. Speaking to France Télévisions, Ledanois said: “Nairo Quintana voluntarily lost time yesterday. We said before the Tour that our goal was a stage win. It wouldn’t represent much for Nairo to finish seventh overall, for example. He already did better than that. He prefers to finish 35th and win a stage this year. He handles the lousy weather pretty well. We’ve seen that at Paris-Nice before. The last 40km will be decisive for the stage win.”

01:37 PM

50km to go

Christopher Juul-Jensen pulls the leading group up the lower part of the 5.7km long côte de Mont-Saxonnex. The lorry that was stuck on this climb has thankfully managed to get off the mountain safely. Bernhard Eisel, who is working for Eurosport, says that Alejandro Valverde was suffering in the cold and was ‘shaking like a leaf’, hence dropping out of the leading group.

01:26 PM

54km to go

Rui Costa, the former world champion, rides on the front of the peloton, and the UAE Team Emirates man is getting no help from Ineos Grenadiers. Quite a few people have been questioning the strength and tactical know-how of the UAE Team Emirates, who last year benefited from others, though this year nobody will be too keen on gifting Tadej Pogacar an inch of the road. With three category one climbs incoming, some may be thinking of testing Pogacar out … or at least put him and his teammates under pressure.

Rui Costa – AFP

01:25 PM

55km to go

Wout Poels has been caught, while Alejandro Valverde has sat up and will wait for the peloton to catch him up, presumably the veteran will be hoping to help teammate Miguel Ángel López later in the stage.

01:11 PM

State of play | 65km to go

Woet Poels leads the stage.

A 17-man group trails by 37sec: Soren Kragh Andersen (DSM), Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ), Tiesj Benoot (DSM), Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers), Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Sergio Henao (Qhubeka-NextHash), Ion Izagirre (Astana-Premier Tech), Christopher Juul-Jensen (BikeExchange), Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), Aurélien Paret-Peintre (Ag2r-Citroën), Nans Peters (Ag2r-Citroën), Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Simon Yates (BikeExchange).

Maillot jaune: The peloton that features Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert and the bulk of the general classification riders is 3min 39sec down the road from Poels.

Pierre Latour (TotalÉnergies) and Dan Martin (ISN) are riding together, 7min 15sec down on Poels.

Grupetto: Geraint Thomas, Primoz Roglic, Chris Froome, and Mark Cavendish are in the last group on the road, the quartet currently 13 minutes down on the stage leader.

12:57 PM

77.5km to go

After opening his account on the last climb, Wout Poels adds another point on the second official climb of the day, the category four côte de Menthonnex-En-Bornes.

Wout Poels – GETTY IMAGES

12:53 PM

80km to go

Wout Poels has increased his lead to 42sec, while Mathieu van der Poel has managed to close the gap on Wout van Aert and Tadej Pogacar. Soren Kragh Andersen (DSM) is off in pursuit of Poels. What an utterly bonkers stage in the mountains.

12:49 PM

84km to go

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) clipped off the front of the group containing Tadej Pogacar before he was reined back in. Mathieu van der Poel trails by 45sec, making Van Aert the virtual leader of the Tour, and Pogacar is in no mood to let the Belgian take control of the general classification here today.

12:34 PM

93.5km to go

Once again, Wout Poels leads the race, the Dutchman is heading up the first categorized climb of the day, the côte de Mont Sussex. Geraint Thomas is almost seven – seven! – minutes down on his old teammate, while Primoz Roglic trails by 4min 27sec. I think it is safe to say that neither of these pre-race favorites will be challenging for the yellow jersey at this year’s race. Heartbreaking stuff for both, and not great for those heading to the Vuelta an España because, indeed, Roglic will now switch his focus to the Spanish Grand Tour.

12:26 PM

Whatever happened to the Orica-GreenEdge bus driver?

Looks like the man that almost brought the 2013 Tour to a standstill after getting the team bus wedged beneath the finishing line arch may have got a gig working in the Tour de France caravan. This lorry has brought the traffic to a halt on the côte de Mont Sussex. Oops.

12:19 PM

102.5km to go

A few minutes ago, Sonny Colbrelli won the intermediate sprint ahead of Michael Matthews (BikeExchange); the 20 points the Italian just earned propels him up to sixth in the race for the green jersey, though he trails Mark Cavendish by some distance. South London’s Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) takes third which will, I’m sure, delight my nephew Sam who races for Fred’s old club VC Londres.

12:09 PM

Thomas waving goodbye to Tour hopes?

Geraint Thomas is 3min 40sec down on the leading group that has Tadej Pogacar, Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert, Rigoberto Urán and Julian Alaphilippe. Primoz Roglic, meanwhile, is in the second group on the road 1min 25sec down on the Maillot Jaune. A frenetic start to the day’s stage.

12:04 PM

117km to go

Sonny Colbrelli, the Italian national champion, has clipped off the front of the leading group – he will be thinking about the points on offer at the intermediate sprint in Frangy around 10km away.

Sonny Colbrelli – EPA

12:01 PM

Roglic dropped | 120km to go

Oh dear, oh, dear. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) has been dropped by the leading group on the road. The Slovenian crashed during stage one, then suffered horribly after colliding with Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) a couple of days later. This resulted in him sustaining an awful lot of road rash.

11:56 AM

122km to go

Mattia Cattaneo, Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo), and Connor Swift (Arkéa-Samsic) move off the front, before Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) bridges over to the trio. However, as soon as the Belgian national champion made his move, the peloton reacted. Notably, Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) helped chase Van Aert down, presumably on teammate Tadej Pogacar. Incidentally, Costa is a rider that goes well in the wet conditions the riders have to deal with today – it is absolutely teeming it down.

11:51 AM

Friends reunited

Chris Froome has managed to regain contact with the group with Geraint Thomas. The Welshman, by the way, has no teammates for a company which will be a worry for Ineos Grenadiers.

11:47 AM

Thomas losing time

Geraint Thomas, one of those riders that crashed in the opening few stages, has lost contact with the leading group and the Welshman currently trails by 1min 30sec. Chris Froome, meanwhile, is battling away to chase onto the rear of Thomas’s group. This could be a very long and miserable day for the former teammates.

11:44 AM

135km to go

Wout Poels has been caught by the leading group, and the corners are being taken very gingerly; there is quite a bit of resting water on the road surface, and so the already battered and bruised bodies of these riders will not be wanting to add to their pain in any more falls.

11:39 AM

140km to go

Wout Poels is plowing on, but his lead is negligible. Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) was just spotted riding toward the group’s rear containing most of the general classification contenders, which is not a good sign. As mentioned, the roads are wet, and the descent the riders are currently on looks a little tricky.

11:29 AM

146.5km to go

Tao Geoghegan Hart sits up, presumably having been instructed to knock it off a little. A small group including Stefan de Bod (Astana-Premier Tech), Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Sergio Henao (Qhubeka-NextHash), and Michael Woods (ISN) has put some space between themselves and the rapidly dwindling bunch. Mark Cavendish is struggling on this climb which is not hugely surprising, but of more concern is the performance of Chris Froome, who a few moments ago was in trouble at the rear of the peloton.

11:26 AM

147km to go

Former teammates Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) scurry off up the road after Thomas De Gendt’s early move comes to nothing. Geoghegan Hart started today over 37 minutes down on general classification and so poses no threat here. Is he thinking of going for the stage, or maybe getting up the road so that he can help a teammate – Richard Carapaz or Geraint Thomas – later in the day?

11:23 AM

Breaking away?

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) clips off the front, the breakaway specialist looking lively, while his teammate falls out of the back of the group. The German sprinter is not designed for these climbs and is planning to race on the track at the Olympics, so he may even be thinking of bailing.

11:20 AM

And they’re off!

Christian Prudhomme, the race director of the Tour de France, has popped his head out of his shiny red Skoda and dropped his flag to signify the start of today’s race. It is uphill from the off on an uncategorized climb, and it looks a little damp.

11:17 AM

So, what’s on today’s menu?

There are five categorized climbs, including three category one mountains, as the Tour enters the Alps. As if they have not been tested enough already, today is a massive day in the race for the general classification and one in which we will see if anybody is willing to test the mettle of Tadej Pogacar. It is widely assumed that Mathieu van der Poel will be losing his yellow jersey, but who will be taking control of that?

Stage eight profile – Tour de France 2021, stage eight – live updates – ASO

Here’s a look at the all-important numbers from those climbs and a breakdown of what points can be won in the mountains. But what about those who only have eyes for the green jersey?

10:50 AM

Bonjour!

Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage eight at the Tour, the 150.8-kilometer run from Oyonnax to Le Grand-Bornand. A big day in the mountains lies in wait for before we have a look at the stage, though let’s remind ourselves wwho will be wearing what.

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) will again be dressed in the Maillot Jaune, the leader’s yellow jersey, the Dutchman taking a 30sec lead over Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) into the stage, while Kasper As green (Deceuninck-Quick Step) is third at 1min 49sec.

As a leader in the points competition, Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick Step) will again be wearing the maillot vert, the green jersey. Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) will have the maillot à pois, the polka dot jersey, on his shoulders as a leader in the mountains. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), meanwhile, will be in the maillot blanc, the white jersey awarded to the best young rider.

Catch-up: Highlights of yesterday’s stage