Too much excitement for Lloyd
The first crash of the day happened before the race has properly begun. Matthew Lloyd (Lampre-ISD) fell in the neutral zone but was back on his bike promptly and after short delay by the race officials, the flag was dropped and racing could commence. It was his second of the Tour and both have been inside the neutral zone. He hasn’t been involved in any of the huge pile-ups.
"I haven’t come down at all during the race but I did have one crash in a neutral zone and that was my fault. No one else fell but just...losing interest," he told letour.fr at the beginning of the stage. "I’ve become interested now and the profile today helps with the motivation. It’s all good. We’ll let it roll and see what happens," he said.
Lloyd has a bruised elbow and a number of abrasions according to his team. He finished the stage in the groupetto, 22:19 down on the day’s winner.
Support for Menchov takes a hit as Gusev goes down
Shortly after Lloyd’s fall, Vladimir Gusev (Katusha) took a tumble in the eight stage when he failed to negotiate a traffic island. Gusev suffered a blow to his right shoulder in the opening minutes of the stage and while he managed to remount and get going again, he was clearly in pain. He spent some time with the race doctor with a fear that he may have broken his collarbone.
Gusev had been sitting in 22nd place, 3:26 behind race leader Wiggins, prior to the start of stage eight but the pain of his fall was too much for the Russian. He ended the stage in last place - more than 23 minutes behind the stage winner Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-Big Mat).
The Katusha rider "suffered a strong contusion to his right shoulder. Tomorrow, Gusev will be able to take part to the individual time trial before trying to recover completely during the rest day" according to his team.
Martin preparing for time trial
Tony Martin’s (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) injuries appear to be improving. Even with a broken wrist he managed to get through the demanding stage without too much concern. He couldn’t ride with the leaders but was only dropped with a couple of climbs remaining. He finished in a 20-man group containing David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) and Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan). Martin in looking forward to stage nine’s time trial where he hopes he can put in a descent performance.
"Today was a hard day in the mountains. The hand was also painful, but ok. I have passed two mountain stages now. I am focused on the time trial tomorrow. Tonight I will try to fix my position a little on the [time trial] bike. We will try to find a good position with the mechanics to tune things up and have a perfect set up for tomorrow. I will try to do my best tomorrow, but it won't be easy for me," said Martin.
Yates and Wiggins comments on day one of yellow jersey defence
It was a common sight seen over the past six months; Wiggins in yellow being lead by a full complement of powerful domestiques. Calculating and drilled, the team defend Wiggins’ 10-second lead to Evans. Team director Sean Yates commented on his team’s performance following the stage.
"Whichever way it panned out it was always going to be hard, not just for us but for everyone else. You can see that by the damage done and the time gaps between the groups it was not an easy day.
"The boys coped well with the attacks early on. We knew it was going to be full gas from the start. Christian [Knees] was great today along with Eddy [Boasson Hagen]. Brad [Wiggins] and [Chris] Froomey were up there at the end when it kicked-off. There were only five or six guys together over the top of the final climb.
"Tomorrow is the race of truth and the truth will be told"
Wiggins is undoubtedly a completely different rider from his track days. Just four years since the Beijing Games, Wiggins has gone from being a multiple Olympic Games individual pursuit champion to one of the top favourites to win the Tour - or any other major stage race he enters.
"At the Olympics in Beijing, I weighed 82 kilos for the individual pursuit, and now I'm around 71 kilos. It's diet, training - it's very important. But more than that, it's a lifestyle: I drink nothing now. Before, in 2004 [in Athens], I was almost an alcoholic after the Olympics," he said.
Leipheimer unprepared for stage eight decimation
Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) has not shown the same form of recent years and stage eight was no different. Leipheimer was hit by a car in mid April whilst training and has been rebuilding his form He was unable slowly since. He was unable to follow the best over the top of the final climb up the Col de la Croix and ended in 20th spot, 1:25 down on the winner. He retained the top spot in the general classification for his team but he didn’t expect the stage to be so difficult.
"I think everybody was just suffering. It was a really hard stage. I didn’t expect it to break up as much as it did. I was surprised by the climbs, they were really, really tough here. These last few days have been harder than anyone expected. What can you say? It's been a great race," he said.
Today's Tour de France news
- Ochowitz confident in Evans in 'technical' time trial
- Sánchez recounts tale of broken finger and broken Tour dreams
- Video: Tour de France Stage 8 highlights
- Nibali: We've all come here with big ambitions
- Video: Kessiakoff aiming for Tour de France mountains classification
- RadioShack-Nissan give Zubeldia and Monfort more freedom at Tour de France
- Wiggins delivers caustic assessment of his critics