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Hyper-aggressive position for the sprint lead-out
How much air pressure pros use at the Tour de France
National theme bike for Tour's lone Japanese rider
Teams bringing multiple models of sponsor bikes
Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage eight of the Tour de France.
The 189km stage is the first major rendezvous of the Tour, with a mountaintop finish at Morzine-Avoriaz.
After yesterday’s shadow boxing on the road to Station des Rousses, we will start to get an idea of who can – and who can’t – win the Tour this afternoon.
The peloton has rolled out of Les Rousses.
An early attack from Vasil Kiryienka (Caisse d'Epargne) and there's a Francaise des Jeux rider trying to get across. The attacking came from the gun today.
There's been a crash in the middle of the peloton. Jerome Pineau is one of the men who's gone down in his king of the mountains jersey.
In fact it was right at the front of the bunch. There was a touch of wheels and Gerrans and Sorenson were also among those who went down. Cadel Evans was caught up behind but is now safely back in the bunch.
Kiryienka has about ten seconds on the bunch. Meanwhile Jerome Pineau is chasing to get back on.
After the crash, some Cofidis riders had gone to the front, but Yaroslav Popovych went to the front to tell them to slow down. It seems as though Armstrong was caught up behind, but he's also now back in the bunch.
Kiryienka has been brought back and the peloton is getting stretched out. A lot of riders keen to get up the road before the serious climbing later in the stage.
Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) is off the front now with a group of about a dozen riders chasing him, just ahead of the main peloton.
Rein Taaramae now has ten seconds over the bunch, which is already lined out. Certainly not a relaxed beginning to proceedings here. Once a break goes clear it should settle down.
Cadel Evans is safely in the middle of the bunch in his rainbow jersey.
Now Christophe Moreau is trying to get a little group across to the man in front.
Moreau's group has bridged up to Taaramae. Also in there are Lars Boom, Simon Spilak and Cyril Gauthier.
Jerome Pineau is still trying to work his way back up to the peloton with Brent Bookwalter on his wheel.
Lars Boom is driving on the front of the group in front, but the bunch still has them in its sights. It's been a fast start to the stage.
Now on the first climb of the day, the 4th category Cote de la Petite Joux (2.3km, 4.3%). Omega Pharma-Lotto are chasing behind, they haven't got a man in the break up front and are pulling it back in again.
Taaramae, Spilak, Moreau, Gauthier and Boom are the five up front on the climb. Taaramae is riding very aggressively today.
Jerome Pineau is being treated by the race doctor at the rear of the peloton. His polka dot jersey was torn in the crash. Meanwhile Taaramae is gone clear by himself and crosses the climb in front.
Johannes Frohlinger (Milram) was second over the climb in a group of about twelve riders that is just ahead of the peloton.
Taaramae has been caught and now a new group led by Mario Aerts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is pressing ahead.
A little group has been dropped off the back of the peloton, and it includes the Rabobank duo of Denis Menchov and Juan Manuel Garate. They would not have been expected to be in trouble this early on the stage, but the pace is very high. Tony Martin is also back there.
The peloton is completely strung out on the descent. Mario Aerts' group is 17 seconds clear at the moment.
Seven riders up front now, this could be the break that sticks. Benoit Vaugrenard (Francaise des Jeux) is also up there with Aerts. Meanwhile, Denis Menchov has made it back in to the main group.
The seven men in Mario Aerts' group have 45 seconds over the peloton, as things settle slightly behind.
The riders in the break are Mario Aerts (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Koos Moernhout (Rabobank), Benoit Vagrenard (FdJ), Christophe Riblon (AG2R), Imanol Erviti (Caisse d'Epargne), Sebastien Minard (Cofidis), Amael Moinard (Cofidis).
Things have settled down very much in the peloton now, and the seven in front have an advantage of 1:38.
Cadel Evans is now being attended to by Dr. Gerard Porte. He must have come down in that crash earlier on. Indeed, his shorts are torn. Meanwhile, a queue of riders is forming behind Evans, all waiting for some medical attention. It's like a mobile doctor's waiting room back there.
Cadel Evans has been doing his rainbow jersey proud this year, and it seems that he’s so keen to show off his rainbow stripes that he turned down the chance to chase the yellow jersey yesterday. "I'm satisfied to be sitting in second place," said Evans after yesterday’s stage. "To have taken the yellow jersey today would put a lot of pressure on the guys and it's a long way yet to go.” It may also be an indication of his lack of confidence in the ability of his BMC team to control the race. Evans himself was riding a more or less perfect Tour until today's crash, we'll have to wait and see how it affects him later in the stage.
The group in front are starting to work well together now, while Quick Step are controlling things on the front of the peloton. The gap is climbing, it's just a shade under three minutes now.
Roman Kreuziger is next up for some medical attention at the back of the bunch. He's taken care of relatively quickly, and now it's Jerome Pineau's turn again. His Quick Step team are slowing things on the front.
Damiano Cunego and yellow jersey Sylvain Chavanel are chatting in the middle of the bunch. The pace has relaxed significantly now. The break out front will be given their head until the serious business at the end of the stage.
Christophe Riblon is the best placed of the breakaways. He is in 45th place overall, 8:05 down on Sylvain Chavanel's yellow jersey.
The orange of Koos Moerenhout is a reminder that the first major summit finish of the Tour isn’t the only huge sporting event taking place today. It will be interesting to see if Holland’s participation in tonight’s World Cup final will have any effect on the numbers of Dutch fans on the roadside today. They always come in huge numbers to the Alps, they’re as much a part of the scenery as the mountains themselves.
Meanwhile, Alberto Contador knows he’s going to have to do something pretty special today to get some column inches in the Spanish papers tomorrow if Spain win...
The Francaise des Jeux team's sleep was interrupted last night by a wedding in their hotel. "I'm not sure what denomination the wedding was, but there was plenty of singing and dancing and the party lasted until five in the morning!" manager Marc Madiot explained. Benoit Vaugrenard certainly doesn't seem to have been affected, he's riding well on the front.
Andy Schleck dropped back to his team car briefly and is now making his way back up to the bunch. He's in the white jersey today, and is looking to equal Jan Ullrich in winning the young rider classification three years running. Ullrich was best young rider (though not white jersey wearer) in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
Quick Step are riding at the front of the peloton at a steady pace, 4:30 behind the breakaways. They're keeping things controlled ahead of the finish at Morzine-Avoriaz later on.
In Vélo Magazine’s pre-Tour special, they rode up the climb of Avoriaz and rather sniffily suggested that it was a mountain for rouleurs and that the real climbing will come in the Pyrenees.
Fabian Cancellara will certainly hope they’re right. He suffered horribly yesterday and finished 14:12 behind Chavanel to relinquish his yellow jersey. “It was just too much, I just couldn’t do any more,” said the Swiss rider afterwards. “I’ve had great days in the yellow jersey, but in my normal jersey things will be a bit more calm, and less stressful.”
We’ve seen some legendary finishes in Morzine over the years, both in the town itself and atop Avoriaz. The last time the Tour finished at Morzine-Avoriaz was in 2003, when Richard Virenque held on up front to take the stage and yellow. In 1994, Piotr Ugrumov beat Marco Pantani and Miguel Indurain up here in a time trial in the Tour’s final week.
Amaël Moinard is riding his third Tour de France. He was a fine 15th in his first Tour in 2008, and was disappointed to finish 65th last time around. This season has gone quite well for him so far, he took a fine stage win at Paris-Nice in March and the mountains classification. Speaking of which, Jerome Pineau has dragged his polka dots back up to the front of the bunch.
Another great stage to Morzine-Avoriaz came in 1985, when King of the Mountains Luis Herrera was in a spectacular two-up breakaway with yellow jersey Bernard Hinault. Chavanel and Pineau have been heroic in the Tour to date, but surely their aggression has some limits...
For those of you playing our Easton-Cyclingnews Wheelset a Day Giveaway during the Tour de France, here is your trivia question for the day:
Who has won the most polka dot jerseys?
For a hint, click here.
Enter your answer in our contest page here.
Today's prize is an Easton EC90 SLX wheel set. Click here for information about the prize.
Sébastien Minard won Paris-Camembert in April, but a stage at the Tour would be the biggest win of his career. The gap to the bunch is steady now at around the 4 minute mark.
The group in front are on the second climb of the day, the Cote de Grésin (4.3km, 3.9%). Meanwhile back in the bunch Bernhard Eisel has punctured.
The lead group is over the top of the climb. Riblon passed over in front ahead of Moerenhout and Moinard, but they didn't contest the sprint.
Benoît Vaugrenard is from Vannes, one of the heartlands of Breton cycling. He'll be disappointed that the Tour isn't visiting the western peninsula this year. Indeed, before the Tour, he spoke of his intentions to start building his season around other events from next year on. He had a very solid 8th place in Liege-Bastogne-Liege last year. This year he has won stages in the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque and the Volta ao Algarve.
The seven men on the front of the bunch are working well together, and stretching out the gap again towards five minutes.
Another Morzine memory. Of all of Marco Pantani’s victories, one of his most underrated is his win into Morzine in 1997. His attack on the Joux Plane was arguably the most clinical of his career, as the Festina and Telekom teams looked the other way en masse, nobody wanting to try to match his pace. His daredevil descent down into town sealed the stage.
Cofidis have two men in the lead group. It's clearly been a tactic of theirs to get men in the early break today, as Rein Taaramae was especially aggressive in the early part of the stage.
Mario Aerts leads Riblon and Ervitti through the first intermediate sprint of the day at Vulbens.
Sylvain Chavanel is looking pleased to back in the yellow jersey. Whatever else happens in the Tour, he can be pleased with his work to date. If he manages to hold on to yellow in Morzine, it would be yet another bonus in what has been a dream race for the Frenchman.
Of course, the last time the Tour was in Morzine was in 2006. Floyd Landis was first across the line that day, he turned the race on its head with some Fausto Coppi-era time gaps to take back the yellow jersey he had lost the day before. We all know what happened next…
Landis is a major story in the background of this year’s Tour, given his recent confessions and allegations in relation to the US Postal team. It’s a story that’s set to run and run over the coming months.
Indeed, UCI President Pat McQuaid spoke exclusively to Cyclingnews last week and had this to say on the Landis allegations. “Doping has been going on in sport for centuries. Do we really want to go backwards all the time and keep opening investigations for accusation that someone makes? I'd rather concentrate on the present and future. Since becoming UCI President I've tried to work on today and tomorrow. That's where I we can make a difference.”
Perhaps, Mr. President, but then again maybe learning from past mistakes might be the best way to make a positive impact on our sport’s future? Just a thought. Anyway, back to the racing...
Just inside the last 100km and the seven up front have 4:55 on the peloton.
A quick reminder of the men in this breakaway group.
Mario Aerts (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Koos Moernhout (Rabobank), Benoit Vagrenard (FdJ), Christophe Riblon (AG2R), Imanol Erviti (Caisse d'Epargne), Sebastien Minard (Cofidis) and Amael Moinard (Cofidis).
The break are coming through the feed. They'll be glad to take their bidons, it's very hot out there again. Meanwhile, the gap to the peloton is widening again, it's almost up to six minutes.
The average speed for the second hour of racing was 40km/h but the average speed to date is 45.4km/h. It just shows how tough the start of the stage was, there was a flurry of attacking in the opening kilometres. Things have settled down considerably now, and there are a lot of heavy legs in the peloton that will be glad of that.
The cameras pan out for the obligatory "horse riding alongside peloton" shot. The bunch has slowed as they pass through the feed zone.
The break's gap is now up to 6:40 and rising steadily.
Lance Armstrong isn't looking especially happy in the bunch. He's been in the wars in this Tour, and his woes are continuing this weekend it seems. He told L’Équipe that he’s been suffering from saddle sores that are making it difficult to sit on the saddle. He certainly isn't looking as comfortable as usual on the bike.
Armstrong has kept us all entertained with his macabre references to hammers and nails that have been a recurring motif of his thoughts on this year’s race.
He continued with the thematic imagery after yesterday’s stage in the heat. “If you get a little behind on hydration and nutrition - that's what happened to Klödi (Andreas Klöden) - the man with the hammer comes and you're done."
Today Armstrong will doubtless be planning on getting back to being the hammer.
Fabio Felline (Footon-Servetto) was among the fallers at the start of the stage. He's showing the effects of the crash. His shorts are torn and he has a lot of cuts and bruises. He's the youngest rider in this year's race at just twenty years of age, and his plan before the off was to ride as far as the first rest day. It will be interesting to see if he starts on Tuesday.
Christophe Riblon is edging closer to be yellow jersey on the road, but Quick Step don't seem too concerned.
The next difficulty is the 1st category Col de la Ramaz, which is 14.3km at 6.8%. We're still about 30km away from the foot of the climb mind.
Johannes Frohlinger (Milram) has just crashed at the back of the bunch. He fell all by himself, he clipped a traffic island. It was a temporary loss of concentration that could have cost him dearly but he's back in the saddle with just a front wheel change to report.
Meanwhile the peloton bowls past an accordian player who hams it up agreeably for the cameras. It's pretty relaxed now in the middle of the stage as we touch along the Swiss border near Geneva.
Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini) are at the back of the peloton but they must have dropped back deliberately as the pace is low and we're still in the valley ahead of the Col de la Ramaz.
Wiggins and Cancellara are back in the bunch. Cunego is among the cars, it's looks like he went back for some mechanical help.
Oscar Freire's handlebar tape is red and yellow today in honour of Spain's apperance in the World Cup final later on. Surely he must have done it himself, I can't imagine Rabobank's Dutch mechanics helping him out with that particular request...
The seven up front are working relatively well together. France Television's on-screen statistics suggest that the pace-setting is being shared more or less evenly as their gap hovers around the seven minute mark.
Andy Schleck is looking very smooth in the bunch. Today is a big, big day in his Tour de France challenge.
Through the second sprint of the day for the breakaway group, and once again it wasn't contested. Moerenhout was first over the line ahead of Minard and Aerts. 6:30 back to the bunch.
Garmin may have lost Christian Vande Velde to injury and Bradley Wiggins to Team Sky, but might Ryder Hesjedal be their surprise package in this year’s Tour?
“I didn’t come to this race thinking I was in a GC fight but that’s the way things have worked out. It’s important for the team and we’re going to fight for it now.”
“It’s not like I’ve not ridden GC in a bike race before it’s just that this is the Tour de France and there were circumstances with Christian. We’ll see what happens and where it goes. We still have a big focus for the sprints and we’re looking for a stage there but the team are supporting me,” he told Cyclingnews.
We're approaching the foot of the Col de la Ramaz, and there will surely be some tentative attacks out of the bunch on the climb.
The pace is starting to pick up a little in the peloton now. Quick Step are on the front, and the main favourites are beginning to gather at their shoulders.
Crash in the peloton. Armstrong was among those who went down. He's back up straight away and is chasing back on with his RadioShack team.
The back of Armstrong's jersey is scuffed and torn, but he doesn't seem to be hurt himself. He had a bike change but is having to fight hard to get back on. The pace was just beginning to go up when he fell, it was a bad time to have a tumble.
Armstrong is at the back of a string of RadioShack riders chasing the peloton. He doesn't appear to be injured, but his morale must really be taking a battering in this Tour. He's 30 seconds off the back of the bunch.
Garmin-Transitions are on the front of the bunch.
Armstrong has made it back to the bunch at precisely the right time, just at the foot of the Col de la Ramaz. He's desperate to thread his way through to the front now as the pace is quite high now.
We're on the Col de la Ramaz now. 14.3km at 6.8%. Juan Antonio Flecha is on the front of the bunch for Team Sky. Meanwhile there's an autobus forming at the back. Freire, Hushovd and Cavendish are all there together. So too is Alessandro Petacchi.
Koos Mourenhout has slipped off the front of the lead group.
Moerenhout has opened out a bit of a gap on his breakaway companions. Sky are a very visible presence at the front of the bunch. Bradley Wiggins is very well placed. Damiano Cunego is among those struggling at the back.
Moinard and Aerts have set out in pursuit of Moerenhout. The Ramaz is shattering the day's early breakaway.
Sky are laying down the pace now at the front of the bunch. Wiggins is in third position in the line.
Flecha is pulling very hard on the front of the bunch for Sky. A number of riders losing contact at the back, including Tony Martin. The main favourites all still intact and comfortable.
Aerts and Moinard have worked their way up to Moerenhout at the front.
Sky seem determined to lay down a marker on this climb. Their pace is dropping men off the back of the bunch, but not making any sort of selection among the big hitters just yet.
David De La Fuente (Astana) and Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack) have been dropped. Two key lieutentants for Contador and Armstrong are gone. Jerome Pineau has also been dropped. Sylvain Chavanel is still near the front in his yellow jersey, as is Cadel Evans.
Damiano Cunego is among those struggling at the back, he won't win the stage today. George Hincapie is on his wheel in the jersey of American champion.
Sky are still on the front of the peloton, with Flecha in first place, followed by Lofkvist and Wiggins. All of the major favourites are still here. Contador, Andy Schleck, Armstrong, Evans and Basso all towards the front. Sylvain Chavanel is still very prominent in his yellow jersey.
Flecha has blown and dropped off the front. It's an interesting tactic from Sky. They're shedding riding from the rear of the bunch but Wiggins is now also tiring out his own support for the final climb. At the same time Sergio Paulinho is gone out the back for RadioShack.
Sylvain Chavanel has been dropped. He was looking quite comfortable earlier on the climb, but the Sky pace has clearly taken it's toll.
Mario Aerts is setting a steady tempo at the front with Moerenhout and Moinard on his wheel. The lead trio are riding very sensibly to maintain 3:05 over the Sky-led group and 3:47 over Chavanel who looks to have blown completely. Understandable, he rode his heart out yesterday. Vladimir Karpets is in the group with Chavanel.
Christophe Le Mevel has been dropped by the Sky pace. This is somewhat surpising, he came here looking for a top ten finish. 3km from the top of the climb.
Saxo Bank now taking up the pace on the front and Janez Brajkovic has been dropped for RadioShack.
Lance Armstrong has been dropped! He appears to have blown. He's pedalling very slowly with his jersey wide open and his head dropped. He's already over 20 seconds down on Contador, Schleck et al.
Armstrong had been looking uncomfortable all day, even before his crash. Astana have gone to the front of the group of the main favourites.
Paolo Tiralongo is setting the pace for Astana at the front of this group. Meanwhile Armstrong is really struggling, Chris Horner appears to be waiting for him.
Vinokourov and Kloden have also been dropped now. Astana picking up the pace.
Alberto Contador has Cadel Evans on his wheel. Both men looking relatively comfortable in this group. As things stand, Cadel Evans is riding his way into yellow, but there's still a lot of climbing to go.
A kilometre to the summit for the leading trio. Armstrong is 40 seconds behind the Astana-led group of the favourites. Vinokourov has got back on and is at the front now.
Armstrong's pedal strokes are leaden at this stage. It's going to be a long day for the Texan.
Aerts leads Moerenhout over the summit of the Ramaz. Moinard was distanced slightly near the top, but will get back on easily.
It's 1:55 back to the group of favourites and 2:45 back to Armstrong near the top of the Ramaz.
Armstrong is really suffering now. The gap to Contador is rising all the time. Horner and Brajkovic are staying with Armstrong, but it's hard to see them bringing him back up. He is in a decent-sized group, but it's a group of tired riders.
The Astana-led group are on the rapid descent to Fry. Andy Schleck is in this group, and now he's dropped back to speak with his team car.
Armstrong's group is hurtling down the descent in desperation now. Horner and Brajkovic are trying to salvage his Tour de France now, but even if he gets back on he will surely struggle on climb to Avoriaz.
Ryder Hesjedal is still up there with the Contador group on the descent. He's now in second place overall on the road.
The lead trio are on the 3rd category climb of Les Gets. 3.9km at 4.8%, it's just tough enough to sting the legs a little more before the final climb to Avoriaz.
Meanwhile, Vinokourov has opened a little gap on the Contador group on the descent.
Anthony Charteau has got across to Vinokourov at the foot of Les Gets. He's been very active today.
Aerts, Moerenhout and Moinard are still off the front, with Charteau trying to get across. Astana controlling matters on the front of the Contador group.
Alberto Contador is sitting in the wheels looking very calm. Andy Schleck is two riders bike observing him intently.
Anthony Charteau is in no man's land between the trio of leaders and the Contador group. The French riders have been very keen to attack in this year's Tour.
Aerts led over Les Gets from Moerenhout and Moinard. They have just about two minutes of an advantage over the group led by Contador's platoon of Astana riders.
Armstrong's group looks to have sat up. It may be that he simply doesn't have the legs to even attempt to chase back on.
Disaster for Armstrong! Egoi Martinez crashed in front of him just as they crested the top of Les Gets.
Armstrong didn't fall but he had to get off his bike to avoid hitting the deck. He wasn't even angry at this misfortune. His morale seems to be broken completely. At moments like this, he must be wondering why he came back.
Back at the front of the race, the three leaders are approaching the sprint in the town of Morzine ahead of the final climb to Avoriaz.
Anthony Charteau has been recaptured by the Contador group.
The lead group is on the climb to Avoriaz. Astana are leading the group behind, while Armstrong is floundering two minutes further down the road.
Sastre is suffering on the back of the Contador group at the foot of the final climb as Astana set a locomotive pace.
Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins are all up here near the front of this rapidly-moving group. For now Astana's pace is discouraging any would-be attackers.
Armstrong's group are moving quite slowly, it's a case of damage limitation at best at this stage. His hopes of the podium are surely gone at this point, never mind the yellow jersey.
Astana are still keeping the pace high on the bunch. It's a little early on a climb like this for Contador to make a move just yet.
Under the 10km to go banner for Moerenhout, Moinard and Aerts, they're still holding on, but their gap of 1:21 will hardly be enough with Astana putting down the pace like this.
Sastre is at the back of the Contador group. He always struggles in the early part of the major climbs, but he's hanging on in there.
Armstrong is looking pretty glum and moving very slowly. He has definitely been the nail today. Meanwhile Astana are hammering on the front of the Contador group.
Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans and Ivan Basso are queuing up in Contador's wheel. Someone is surely going to make a move soon.
Moerenhout has been dropped by Aerts and Moinard up front. They still have a minute over the Contador group.
Joaquim Rodriguez has accelerated out of the Contador group. There is no response behind.
Alexandre Vinokourov has been dropped by the Contador group.
Let's remind ourselves that if the stage ended now, Cadel Evans would be in the yellow jersey with 30 seconds over Schleck and a minute over Contador. There are still 7km of climbing to come mind.
Moerenhout has been caught by the Astana train, who are really starting to eat up the terrain.
Ryder Hesjedal has been dropped by the Contador group.
Joaquin Rodriguez is just about to catch Moinard and Aerts.
Nicolas Roche has ridden brilliantly today, but now he's just been dropped by the Contador group, which is down to about a dozen riders at a little over 6km from the top.
Nice moment. Aerts sits up and shakes Moinard's hand, and gives him his head. Moinard isn't going to last too much longer out there by himself mind. The Astana group has him in their sights now.
Moinard has just been caught by the Contador group. Contador is in second place with Schleck on his wheel. Gesink, Sastre, Evans, Basso, Wiggins, Sanchez and Kreuziger are all still up there.
Armstrong is almost 6:30 behind Contador, Schleck and Evans.
Navarro (Astana) has put in a massive shift on the front for Contador. When he pulls over, his leader might well put the hammer down.
Andy Schleck is looking very relaxed in Contador's wheel. Evans is hunched over his handlebars, while Basso grits his teeth. A variety of styles in this lead group.
Wiggins in difficulty at the back of the Contador group.
Wiggins has blown. He looks like he's paying the price of Sky's efforts earlier in the stage.
Inside the last 3km, Schleck and Evans look like they're waiting for Contador to make a move.
Navarro is still hammering on the pedals on the front of the group. His performance has been truly remarkable today.
Andy Schleck grits his teeth in Andy Contador's slipstream. Cadel Evans is a little over 2km away from a yellow jersey.
Roman Kreuziger has attacked! Contador, Schleck and Evans straight up to him. Basso struggling.
It's all come back together again as they spread across the road.
Robert Gesink attacks down the left hand side of the road. Samuel Sanchez follows, and now Contador, Schleck and Evans are safely across.
It's stop-start stuff here. The lead group is back together under the red kite.
Andy Schleck attacks under the red kite and Contador can't respond. Evans struggling at the back.
Samuel Sanchez has joined Schleck. Contador doesn't have the legs to follow!
Sanchez leads Schleck with about 10 seconds over the rest.
Sancheza and Schleck will sprint it out.
Schleck gets it! His first stage win in the Tour de France. Gesink leads the rest of the main contenders over the line ten seconds further back.
It's only ten seconds, but a huge psychological blow for Andy Schleck. Cadel Evans takes over the yellow jersey.
Wiggins crosses the line1:45 down. He lost all of that time in the last 3km. It doesn't augur well for the rest of his Tour.
Overall Evans will have 0:20 over Andy Schleck and 1:01 over Alberto Contador.
Lance Armstrong is looking nailed to the road. He's riding in towards the finish without any thought for time.
Andy Schleck was delighted with that stage victory. It will be interesting to see Contador's response to this minor setback.
Sylvain Chavanel looks completely exhausted as he inches his way towards the top of the climb. He is the deserving recipient of some generous and warm applause, he's been outstanding thus far in the race.
Provisional stage result:
1 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 4:54:11
2 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:00:00
3 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:00:10
4 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:10
5 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:10
6 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:10
7 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:10
8 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack 0:00:10
9 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:10
10 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0:00:10
11 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team 0:00:10
12 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC - Columbia 0:00:20
13 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:39
14 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Transitions 0:01:14
15 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quick Step 0:01:14
16 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team Radioshack 0:01:14
17 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0:01:37
Provisional General classification after stage 8
1 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 37:57:09
2 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:20
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:01:01
4 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:01:03
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0:01:10
6 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Transitions 0:01:11
7 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo 0:01:45
8 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack 0:02:14
9 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:02:15
10 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC - Columbia 0:02:31
Inside the last kilometre for Armstrong. He has lost an awful lot of time today.
Armstrong crosses the line 11:44 down, just behind Sylvain Chavanel.
A tough day on the bike for Armstrong, and some potentially tougher days ahead for him on all fronts.
The selection came from the back rather than the front on today's stage, but as ever on the first real day in the mountains in the Tour, we have found out who won't win the Tour. Meanwhile, up front, the race is very nicely poised.
Thanks for joining us for today's stage. Tomorrow is the Tour's first rest day, but we'll be back here on Tuesday for the 204.5km stage to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.
The full report and results as well as a selection of photography from an epic day of racing will be online soon and don't forget that Cyclingews is your first port of all call for all the rest day news and analysis.