Tour de France 2019

July 6-28, Brussels, France, Road - WorldTour

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Patrick Fletcher

A very tough medium mountain stage that takes the race into the Massif Central.

 

Tour de France race hub

Start list

Preview: A weekend of possibilities as Tour de France hits Massif Central

Stage 7: Groenewegen pips Ewan in bunch sprint

Quintana gets away with badly timed toilet break in finale of stage 7

 

 

  1. 11:57:26 CEST

    Good morning, and welcome to our live coverage of what could be a cracking stage of the 2019 Tour de France. We made it through yesterday's snoozer and the reward is this, a relentlessly undulating parcours that heads into the Massif Central. None of the seven classified climbs are above category-1 status but they add up to nearly 4,000 metres of elevation gain,

  2. 11:58:05 CEST

    Here it is

     

     

  3. 11:59:22 CEST

    Breakaway hopefuls will have highlighted this stage months ago. Only two riders bothered to go up the road yesterday, but this will be very different, and the stage is likely to start with a big fight to form a break. 

     

  4. 12:05:13 CEST

    This is also a big day for the overall contenders. A parcours like this can easily catch one or two riders out.

     

  5. 12:08:32 CEST

    We'll have to wait and see if we get any fireworks between the overall contenders, but one battle sure to take centre stage is for the immediate possession of the yellow jersey. Guilio Ciccone has it, but Julian Alaphilippe wants it back, and he has amenable terrain here and tomorrow. The gap is six seconds, and even if he can't drop Ciccone, there are bonus seconds at the top of the final climb (8-5-2) and on the finish line (10-6-4). 

     

  6. 12:10:44 CEST

    This is the scene in Macon. The riders have all signed on and they're getting ready to roll out. The race proper is set to be waved underway at 12.25 local time. 

     

     

  7. 12:11:24 CEST

    Here's your chance to catch up on yesterday's action. 

     

    Tour de France: Groenewegen wins stage 7

     

  8. 12:12:56 CEST

    And here's Barry Ryan's preview of what should be a great weekend of racing.

     

    A weekend of possibilities as Tour de France hits Massif Central

     

  9. 12:22:16 CEST

    Here's Alaphilippe. We mentioned those bonus seconds but does he have the team to control the race on terrain such as this? Many are predicting a big break to go and contest the stage win. 

     

     

  10. 12:22:43 CEST

    We're just a couple of kilometres away from KM0 and the start of the race.

     

  11. 12:25:43 CEST

    One non-starter today, and that's Tejay van Garderen (EF Education First). The American crashed heavily early in yesterday's, and though he completed the remaining 200 kilometres, he was diagnosed with a broken thumb and has abandoned the Tour, which is a blow for Rigoberto Uran. 

     

    Van Garderen abandons Tour de France with broken thumb

     

  12. 12:26:51 CEST

    We're off!

     

    Christian Prudhomme rises through the sunroof of the race director's car and waves us underway.

     

  13. 12:27:02 CEST

    Immediately come the first attacks.

     

  14. 12:27:14 CEST

    Thomas De Gendt. Obviously.

     

  15. 12:28:06 CEST

    De Gendt is joined by Niki Terpstra (Total Direct Energie) and Ben King (Dimension Data). Loads more pinging off now though. 

     

  16. 12:28:54 CEST

    Katusha fire a rider across and then there's a gap back to the bunch, where CCC are chasing. 

  17. 12:30:16 CEST

    It's Mads Wurtz Schmidt for Katusha, and he makes it across. 

  18. 12:30:42 CEST

    The attacks cease from behind but it hasn't let up yet. CCC seem keen to chase.

     

  19. 12:32:43 CEST

    Wurtz had pretty much made contact but has now sat up. Odd. 

     

  20. 12:33:57 CEST

    CCC now decide not to chase but to fire Alessandro De Marchi - their version of De Gendt - over to the leading trio. The gap is 38 seconds and this is a tall order.

     

  21. 12:34:13 CEST

    The peloton bunches up and slows.

     

  22. 12:34:27 CEST

    Spoke too soon. Two riders attack from the bunch.

     

  23. 188km remaining from 200km

    12:40:17 CEST

    De Gendt, Terpstra, and King have a lead of a minute but it's still not letting up just yet. De Marchi is in the middle.

     

  24. 12:41:41 CEST

    And now things let up in the peloton. The attacks are snuffed out and the teams who are happy with this small early break block the road. 

     

  25. 12:43:44 CEST

    That's it. That's our break:

     

    Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal)Niki Terpstra (Total Direct Energie)Ben King (Dimension Data)

     

    The only question now is whether De Marchi can get across.

     

  26. 12:50:31 CEST

    The three leaders are having a chat and seem to be easing up. They may well have made the decision to allow De Marchi to join them, thus adding an extra engine to their cause.

     

  27. 178km remaining from 200km

    12:52:29 CEST

    That indeed is the case. De Marchi makes it across to make it four in the break. 

     

  28. 12:58:59 CEST

    Ciccone's Trek-Segafredo have taken responsibility and are now on the front of the peloton as the gap rises to 4:30.

  29. 13:00:53 CEST

    We have an early intermediate sprint today, after 33km, so in around 6km' time. Just four in the break, so a fair few points on offer for the green jersey hopefuls in the peloton.

     

  30. 13:08:26 CEST

    Terpstra leads the break through the sprint. There's no contest for the points, but there will be when the peloton come through in five minutes' time.

     

  31. 13:10:51 CEST

    It's Bahrain-Merida, once again, taking it up and leading it out for Sonny Colbrelli.

     

  32. 13:11:12 CEST

    Viviani is being brought up, too.

     

  33. 13:11:27 CEST

    Colbrelli has the full Bahrain train. Fair play. 

     

  34. 13:11:46 CEST

    Sagan is on Colbrelli's wheel. 

     

  35. 13:12:46 CEST

    The Bahrain riders start to peel off but Morkov comes through to take over and lead out Viviani, who gets there first. 

     

  36. 13:14:43 CEST

    Sagan is second ahead of Matthews and then Colbrelli, who made a right mess of that considering the lengths Bahrain went to set it up. The lead-out wasn't fast enough, though, and Morkov simply eased past to put Viviani in pole position, leaving Colbrelli scrambling on the back foot. 

     

  37. 13:17:59 CEST

    By my hasty calculation, the points classification now stands as follows

     

    1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 187  pts
    2 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 129  
    3 Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 128  
    4 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb 125  
    5 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal 76

     

  38. 13:18:48 CEST

    That's that excitement over. This stage isn't really about sprinting, though, and now our attention turns to the hills. The first climb is coming up in just several kilometres.

     

  39. 13:24:08 CEST

    Change in the peloton. Chad Haga is riding on the front for Sunweb. Marcus Burghardt is there for Bora. They seem to have decided they're up for keeping this break in check to try and tee up Matthews and Sagan, respectively, for the stage win.

     

  40. 155km remaining from 200km

    13:24:23 CEST

    The gap between break and peloton stands at 5 minutes.

     

  41. 13:25:27 CEST

    The break hit the first of the day's seven climbs

     

    Col de la Croix Montmain

    Category-2

    6.1km

    7%

     

  42. 13:32:37 CEST

    We spoke to Deceuninck-QuickStep DS Tom Steels this morning. 

     

    "The problem is that it's 200km on a very hard course. You look at the riders on our team and it's a little bit of a mixture of guys for the leadout, and Julian and Enric [Mas] so we don't have really big resources to control a hard stage like this," he said. "You have to make your choices and we made the choice to go a little bit more for bunch sprints and to see what happens in the harder stages. For us we have to see how the race goes a little bit, but if there is a chance to go for the bonifications I think we'll try, but it's going to be a very tricky final, a very tricky final.

     

    "You see how you go to that final climb, it's very narrow which goes suddenly from a big road to a small road. It's a bit like a Flemish climb, so you go into that descent and it's going to be like a bunch sprint. It's going to be GC teams battling to put their rider in front and it's going to be very hectic. Even if the breakaway is gone it's still going to be very nervous at the back and not without danger. It will be very tricky. If you're not in position and if other teams see an opportunity, there could be GC riders who lose 20 seconds."

     

     

     

  43. 13:33:48 CEST

    Yoann Offredo, wearing the red 'combativity' dossard after his heroics in a two-up 200km breakaway yesterday, is dangling off the back of the peloton. He fell sick yesterday evening and is in for a day of suffering just to remain in the race. 

     

  44. 13:39:08 CEST

    Sunweb and Bora continue to set the tempo on the climb. 

     

  45. 13:41:45 CEST

    Caleb Ewan is the first sprinter to be dropped.

     

  46. 13:42:29 CEST

    Into the final kilometre of the climb for the break and De Gendt accelerates. His teammate Tim Wellens leads the mountains classification and De Gendt himself is seventh. 

     

  47. 13:43:34 CEST

    King is the only other rider who looks interested in the points as they come to the top of the climb, but he stays behind De Gendt, who scoops up five points.

     

  48. 13:45:45 CEST

    Here's how the mountains classification now stands.

     

    1 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 43 pts
    2 Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 30
    3 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Gobert 27
    4 Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida 13
    5 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 13

     

    De Gendt could well move up to second place, given we still have six climbs to come.

     

  49. 144km remaining from 200km

    13:47:30 CEST

    Burghardt and Haga lead the peloton over the top of the first climb, 4:43 in arrears.

     

  50. 13:49:11 CEST

    A short fast descent is followed by 10km or so of flat before the second climb of the day, the Cat-2 Col de la Croix de Thei.

     

  51. 13:54:59 CEST

    Small split in the peloton, near the back, following the descent. 

     

  52. 13:55:37 CEST

    A few splits in the bunch, in fact.

  53. 13:56:35 CEST

    That's only going to become more familiar as we get deeper into today's stage. The narrow roads and climbs will stretch and split the pack and positioning is going to be so important for the GC riders. 

     

  54. 14:00:49 CEST

    Looks like Egan Bernal was caught out in those splits. It has come back together now, though.

     

  55. 14:03:31 CEST

    The breakaway hit the second climb with a lead of 4:30.

     

    Col de la Croix de Thei

    Category-2

    4.1km

    8.1%

     

  56. 14:06:03 CEST

    Movistar and Astana move up towards the front of the bunch as the peloton hit the climb. 

     

  57. 14:11:33 CEST

    Haga and Burghardt are still dictating, though, and the gap to the break continues to fall. 4 minutes now.

  58. 14:11:54 CEST

    Ewan got back on on the descent and flat, but he's dropped again now. 

     

  59. 14:13:29 CEST

    The break are heading towards the top of the climb and again De Gendt is accelerating.

  60. 14:14:01 CEST

    Same again: De Gendt takes the maximum five points, King follows next for three. 

     

  61. 14:15:06 CEST

    Hear from the Team Ineos camp after yesterday's stage and ahead of this weekend's hills. 

     

    Tour de France: Geraint Thomas keeps powder dry ahead of possible weekend fireworks

     

  62. 14:17:52 CEST

    Burghardt drags the peloton over the top of the Croix de Thel and the gap to the break has been reduced to 3:55. 

     

  63. 125km remaining from 200km

    14:19:05 CEST

    125km to go and we now have a bit of flat, a short descent, and then a really steep little climb, the Col de la Croix Pacquet. 

     

  64. 14:21:30 CEST

     Susan jumping in for a spell now. Somehow this stage has proved to be less than exciting so far, but we have hopes of better things as the day goes on.

  65. 80km remaining from 200km

    14:23:58 CEST

    The gap has dropped to under four minutes, and is now at 3:36

     

  66. 14:26:28 CEST

    The four leaders now start up the next climb. Behind them, the peloton is really flying along.

     

  67. 14:29:31 CEST

    This is a relatively short climb, but it features a gradient of up to 12% -- and that is right where the lead group is now.

     

  68. 14:31:13 CEST

    The peloton is now on its way up. Several Ineos riders, including Thomas, are working their way back up to the field through the team cars. We don't know why he was back there.

     

  69. 14:32:17 CEST

    Burghardt is still at the front of the field, with a Sunweb rider right beside him. Alaphilippe is not far behind.

    We hear that Thomas had a mechanical.

     

  70. 14:34:18 CEST

    De Gendt again takes the mountain points, followed by King.

     

  71. 14:36:00 CEST

    The four leaders are zooming down the descent. Way behind them, the sprinters are taking a more leisurely pace on their way up.

     

  72. 14:36:53 CEST

    Meanwhile, Ineos has moved to the front of the field to share the lead work.

     

  73. 14:37:52 CEST

    The field crosses the top of the climb and starts on their way down.

     

  74. 109km remaining from 200km

    14:42:15 CEST

    Everyone has survived the descent, and the gap has again fallen to 3:10.

     

  75. 14:43:58 CEST

    The next climb is the cat 3 Cote d'Affoux, long (8.5km) but not steep (3.5%).

     

  76. 14:45:11 CEST

    And who is at the head of the field but the indefatigable Marcus Burghardt!

     

  77. 14:47:10 CEST

    The peloton has passed through the feed zone and we wish them all Bon Appetit!

     

  78. 14:50:18 CEST

    WE have a change at the head of the pack. Sunweb leads now, with Trek right behind them. Cicconi is safely tucked in amongst his teammates. 

     

  79. 14:51:55 CEST

    There is a lot of dropping back to the team cars going on right now, with Alaphilippe and Landa amongst those joining the trend.

     

  80. 14:57:05 CEST

    One km to the top for the break group.

     

  81. 14:58:52 CEST

    Like a broken record here: De Gendt takes the mountain points ahead of King. 

     

  82. 15:01:59 CEST

    The field crosses the top of the climb with the gap now at three minutes. The break group is rapidly approaching the halfway point of this stage.

     

  83. 15:06:36 CEST

    It is Chad Haga, Giro stage winner, who is doing yeoman's work for Sunweb at the head of the field.

     

  84. 15:10:57 CEST

    The descent was much shorter than the ascent, and Haga leads the field through narrow village streets. 

     

  85. 15:14:05 CEST

    Deceunink-Quickstep has now sent a rider up to the front of the field.

     

  86. 15:15:22 CEST

    Passing the baton back to Patrick, who will bring you all safely to the finish.

     

  87. 89km remaining from 200km

    15:19:23 CEST

    Just under 90km to go and the four escapees lead the peloton by 3:16. Everyone thought this could be a day for a breakaway win but it looks like we're heading for a small group finish or maybe even a solo win after an attack on the final climb. 

  88. 15:24:01 CEST

    Kasper Asgreen never gets a day off. He spent all day yesterday pulling the peloton (along with Monfort and Martin), and QuickStep have sent him up again as the yellow jersey for Alaphilippe (and maybe even a stage win) become an increasing possibility. Asgreen is trading turns with Haga, with Trek in formation behind. 

     

  89. 15:29:09 CEST

    A reminder of Alaphilippe's challenge. He trails Ciccone by a mere six seconds, and while it's difficult to see Ciccone being dropped on today's stage, there's a very intriguing array of bonus seconds on offer, both on the finish line (10-6-4), but also at the top of the final climb (8-5-2) with 12.5km to go. If the break's going to be brought back, QuickStep will surely want to get it done ahead of that climb to bring the bonus seconds into play. At 1.9km at 8%, it's a climb that suits the Frenchman. From there, it's mostly downhill to the finish in Saint-Etienne, so it's not exactly a stretch to see him winning the stage, and the two pursuits would seem to complement one another. 

     

  90. 15:31:33 CEST

    Quintana just had to chase back on there with Valverde. He made a bit of a schoolboy error yesterday, by stopping for a toilet break just before the peloton split. He came away unscathed, but it could have been bad. Here's the story.

     

    Tour de France: Quintana gets away with badly timed toilet break in finale of stage 7

     

  91. 72km remaining from 200km

    15:38:27 CEST

    The four leaders are almost at the foot of the fifth of the seven categorised climbs. The gap is just over 3 minutes

     

    Col de la Croix de Part

    Category-2

    4.9km

    7.9%

     

  92. 15:39:58 CEST

    Michael Morkov, Viviani's lead-out man, is doing some turns, so QuickStep are using their resources, even if they themselves admit they haven't got the best team for this kind of job.

  93. 15:41:43 CEST

    Mechanical for Alaphilippe, who has to unclip and stop at the start of the climb. He's back up and running but it doesn't look like he's happy with his bike. 

     

  94. 15:42:17 CEST

    A mechanical, too, for Alexey Lutsenko, who's an important rider for Fuglsang, and a rider who could win a stage like this if he had the freedom to do so.

     

  95. 15:44:02 CEST

    Fuglsang, meanwhile, is up near the front of the bunch as GC riders and there teams begin to position themselves. We're still 70km out but the roads are narrow and the roads constantly undulating, so being caught towards the back could have severe consequences. 

     

  96. 15:46:06 CEST

    Rowe has guided Thomas to the front. Erviti and Valverde are there for Quintana and Landa. Naesen for Bardet, and Houle for Fuglsang. That's the front line of the bunch now.

     

  97. 68.2km remaining from 200km

    15:46:46 CEST

    The breakaway are looking strong on the climb, and their lead has grown to 3:45. 

     

  98. 15:47:15 CEST

    De Gendt is upping the tempo and Terpstra is fighting to stay in now. 

     

  99. 15:47:40 CEST

    Sunweb ramp it up again in the peloton.

     

  100. 15:47:58 CEST

    Alexander Kristoff is dropped, along with Viviani.

     

  101. 15:48:26 CEST

    Terpstra loses contact up front.

     

  102. 15:49:55 CEST

    King now loses the wheel too.

     

  103. 15:50:29 CEST

    De Marchi comes through. He and De Gendt continue to climb together.

     

  104. 15:50:55 CEST

    They reach the top now, and De Gendt once again helps himself to the maximum haul. 

     

  105. 15:51:21 CEST

    Terpstra and King follow over the top around 25 seconds back.

     

  106. 15:51:43 CEST

    Sunweb are leading the peloton on the upper slopes, with Ineos just behind. The pace has raised significantly. 

     

  107. 15:53:21 CEST

    Christophe Laporte has abandoned. That leaves Cofidis without their leader and sprinter and leaves them with six riders after Nicolas Edet left the race a few days ago.

     

  108. 15:53:59 CEST

    Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) is dropped. Unexpected. 

     

  109. 63km remaining from 200km

    15:54:49 CEST

    Sanchez' Astana teammates, though, hit the front of the bunch and lead it over the top, 3:51 behind the two leaders. 

  110. 15:56:52 CEST

    A reminder of the stage profile. A 10km descent - with a brief interruption - takes us to the foot of the next climb. 

     

  111. 15:57:45 CEST

    King and Terpstra are chasing at 25 seconds.

     

  112. 16:01:54 CEST

    Near miss!

     

    De Marchi takes far too much speed into a left-hand bend. Fortunately, there's a small run-off, and he can slow sufficiently so as not to properly crash - instead remaining upright as his bike slumps to the ground. 

     

  113. 16:02:36 CEST

    De Gendt slightly overcooked it too but he's away. Actually, it seems he's waiting for De Marchi, who's back up and running with a minimum of fuss. 

     

  114. 56.5km remaining from 200km

    16:03:14 CEST

    De Gendt and De Marchi join forces once again and they're about to start the penultimate categorised climb. The peloton are at 4 minutes.

     

  115. 16:04:11 CEST

    Here's the climb. It's the fifth Cat-2 so far. 

     

    Côte d'Aveize

    Category-3

    5.2km

    6.4%

     

  116. 16:04:36 CEST

    Coming towards the foot of the descent, Astana take it up in numbers. 

     

  117. 16:07:20 CEST

    Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) has been dropped. That's a surprise for the rider who won on La Planche des Belles Filles two days ago. 

     

  118. 16:11:41 CEST

    Astana have six of their eight riders on the front of the peloton on the climb. They're starting to turn the screw, and the gap to De Gendt and De Marchi is falling. 3:45 as it stands.

     

  119. 16:14:04 CEST

    Offredo is still in the race, by the way. He's 15 minutes back but fighting. The time cut will be an issue.

     

  120. 16:14:44 CEST

    De Gendt and De Marchi are giving it some now, as they enter the final part of the climb, which is also the steepest.

     

  121. 16:15:36 CEST

    And they come to the top. No surprise that De Gendt crosses the KOM line first to add to his collection of points. 

     

  122. 16:16:23 CEST

    Sagan struggling

     

    Astana's pressure is seeing the green jersey in trouble at the very back of the reduced bunch.

     

  123. 16:17:31 CEST

    Sagan is comfortably the strongest sprinter left in contention here. Riders like Matthews and Alaphilippe will be licking their lips if they hear the Slovak has been dropped. 

  124. 16:18:16 CEST

    The three-time world champion is rocking and rolling, losing the wheel at the back of the bunch. They're in the final kilometre of this climb, and he just needs to limit the damage here before closing the gap on the other side. 

     

  125. 16:19:02 CEST

    Terpstra and King are caught by the bunch at the top of the climb.

     

  126. 48km remaining from 200km

    16:19:34 CEST

    Astana lead them over. Their tempo hasn't done too much damage to De Gendt and De Marchi, though. They have 3:35 in hand. 

     

  127. 16:20:34 CEST

    Sagan comes over the top. He's dropped but it's only a small gap and he'll be back in shortly. One categorised climb to come but coming up after this descent is another significant uncategorised rise.

     

  128. 16:21:30 CEST

    EF send Simon Clarke to the front to keep the tempo as high as possible as the road heads downhill. 

     

  129. 41.5km remaining from 200km

    16:26:38 CEST

    The gap is falling as EF refuse to let this stall. 3 minutes now for De Gendt and De Marchi. 

     

  130. 16:28:16 CEST

    De Gendt and De Marchi are climbing again. It's not a categorised climb but it might as well be. At the top there are around 30km to the finish - a downhill section followed by the steep final climb and the run down into Saint-Etienne.

     

  131. 16:28:43 CEST

    The peloton themselves hit the climb and Astana take it up again.

     

  132. 16:29:14 CEST

    Sagan has worked his way up through the bunch on the descent and given himself a little margin for error. He's riding in the first 10 places.

     

  133. 16:34:14 CEST

    The gradients start to bite on a narrow country lane and Sagan slips to the back of the bunch.

     

  134. 38km remaining from 200km

    16:35:14 CEST

    Astana still have five riders there, and EF still have numbers. The gap is down to 2:30, so it's falling, but not that quickly.

     

  135. 16:36:14 CEST

    Sagan is about five from the back.

     

  136. 16:37:09 CEST

    And now he's right at the back. He's on the ropes and that will fuel the legs of so many other riders. 

     

  137. 16:38:28 CEST

    EF turn it up another notch and Dries Devenyns is dropped. That's Alaphilippe's only real domestique. He only has Mas in there with him now, who won't be doing any work as he's a GC contender. 

  138. 16:40:23 CEST

    Split at the back of the bunch as they come over the top of the steep section. Sagan, Trentin, Van Aert all caught behind. 

  139. 16:40:51 CEST

    Kruijswijk caught out there! Van Aert is going all out to close the gap. Matthews there also.

     

  140. 16:41:30 CEST

    Van Aert closes the gap and pulls up. Some thought he could win today, but his work is done.

     

  141. 33.5km remaining from 200km

    16:42:30 CEST

    Gorka Izaguirre takes it up now for Astana as Pello Bilbao peels off. Clarke is still doing the most forcing for EF. The gap drops to 2:05.

  142. 16:44:41 CEST

    EF have Tour of Flanders winner Alberto Bettiol, and also Michael Woods, who will fancy that steep little final climb. Astana have Lutsenko, but Fugslang won Liege-Bastgone-Liege this year - could he be plotting something?

     

  143. 31.8km remaining from 200km

    16:45:26 CEST

    The gap to De Gendt and De Marchi drops below the two-minute mark. It has to be said, they're producing a great ride to hold off a bunch which is being driven along by two committed teams. 

     

  144. 16:46:30 CEST

    After a short downhill kick, there's another kick up before the longer downhill run to the foot of the final climb.

     

  145. 16:47:35 CEST

    Alaphilippe calls for the team car.

     

  146. 16:48:35 CEST

    It's a bottle - a rather sticky one - for Alaphilippe, along with a chat with his directors. And now a couple of gels.

     

  147. 16:50:19 CEST

    There are around 15km to the foot of the final climb, which is where the bonus seconds lie - 8, 5, and 2 for the first three to the top. De Marchi and De Gendt are holding firm now at two minutes and are surely going to stay away for that. The stage win is another matter. 

     

  148. 16:53:10 CEST

    EF and Astana continue to drive the peloton on the downhill section. It's a pretty fast one at the top, so the two leaders aren't going to concede too much ground here. 

     

  149. 24.5km remaining from 200km

    16:53:56 CEST

    And now the road levels a little, and requires some serious pedalling. That will work very much against De Marchi and De Gendt, who must be tiring now. 

     

  150. 16:55:39 CEST

    The two leaders hit a false flat section and that's really going to hurt. It's showing in the gap - 1:35 now. 

     

  151. 16:56:31 CEST

    A shot of our two breakaway riders

     

     

  152. 16:56:50 CEST

    Sagan raises his hand and drops back to the team car.

     

  153. 16:58:08 CEST

    It's a tailwind here, and that's what's helping De Marchi and De Gendt stay in contention here.

  154. 16:59:33 CEST

    De Marchi and De Gendt, two examples of the rare breed of breakaway specialist, will believe in their chances here. They have to believe. 

     

  155. 17:00:25 CEST

    Sagan has bottles in the jersey. He surely can't be on domestique duty. Bora have Max Schachmann in there who is strong on this terrain. 

     

  156. 17:01:34 CEST

    The leaders are 3km from the foot of the final climb. 

     

  157. 17:03:08 CEST

    EF and Astana continue the charge as the road dips downhill a little more severely. The gap comes down to 1:17, so it's falling all the time, but not quickly. Not quickly enough? It's in the balance...

     

  158. 17:04:21 CEST

    Crash for Thomas!

     

  159. 17:05:11 CEST

    It's an Ineos pile-up as their lead rider slips out on a right-hand bend. Thomas gets a new bike and is back up and running. He has three teammates with him.

     

  160. 17:06:09 CEST

    De Marchi and De Gendt hit the final climb with a lead of one minute

     

    Cote de Jaillere

    1.9km

    7.9%

     

  161. 17:06:27 CEST

    Thomas is chasing at 25 seconds. Bernal is still up front in the bunch.

     

  162. 14km remaining from 200km

    17:06:45 CEST

    De Gendt drops De Marchi immediately as the climb begins.

     

  163. 17:07:12 CEST

    The peloton hit the climb and it's about to go full gas. Awful time for that crash for Thomas. 

     

  164. 17:07:54 CEST

    Thomas is on the back foot and chasing through the riders who are being dropped on this steep climb. He now just has Poels with him. 

     

  165. 17:08:15 CEST

    They're around 10 seconds back. Luckily there are 12km or so after the top here to get back on.

     

  166. 17:08:33 CEST

    There was an Ineos bike snapped in two after that crash.

     

  167. 17:09:04 CEST

    Astana take it up through Lutsenko. Fuglsang is there right behind.

     

  168. 17:09:13 CEST

    Thomas is getting back in.

     

  169. 17:09:38 CEST

    De Gendt is so impressive here. He still has 50 seconds! 300m from the top. 

     

  170. 17:09:55 CEST

    Sagan and Van Avermaet are still there in the bunch.

     

  171. 17:10:23 CEST

    De Gendt, the powerful rouleur, spins a tiny gear on the steepest section, but that's it, he's over the top. Full KOM points today.

     

  172. 17:10:34 CEST

    But his lead is falling as Alaphilippe goes!

     

  173. 17:10:43 CEST

    Pinot follows!

     

  174. 17:11:01 CEST

    Alaphilipe cross the KOM point to collect five bonus seconds. One to go.

     

  175. 17:11:12 CEST

    Pinot is on the wheel and himself gets two bonus seconds.

     

  176. 11.3km remaining from 200km

    17:11:32 CEST

    Pinot comes through and works with Alaphilippe! 35 seconds to De Gendt.

     

  177. 17:11:52 CEST

    We thought this was a stage where defense would be important. Well, we have a big GC rider on the attack. 

     

  178. 17:12:11 CEST

    Astana are leading the chase behind but the bunch has shattered

     

  179. 17:12:27 CEST

    Nibali well dropped. He's out of the GC picture for good after today, surely.

     

  180. 17:12:50 CEST

    Pinot and Alaphilippe have 10 seconds in hand on the bunch. 20 seconds behind De Gendt. 

     

  181. 17:13:32 CEST

    The bunch is reduced and strung out, and it looks like Richie Porte is working to close the gap for Ciccone. Remarkable. 

     

  182. 17:13:53 CEST

    Correction, it's Mollema - not Porte. As you were.

     

  183. 17:14:28 CEST

    Thomas is on the back of the main GC bunch. Right in the nick of time - he made contact just before Alaphilippe burst away lit it up

     

  184. 17:14:50 CEST

    It's stalling behind! Who's going to take up the chase?

     

  185. 17:15:28 CEST

    Pinot and Alaphilippe have 13 seconds in hand with 8km to go. De Gendt still leads by 19 seconds. Wow.

     

  186. 17:16:03 CEST

    The organisation is waning behind in the bunch of around 30 riders. Sunweb take it up for Matthews. Mollema is blowing now.

     

  187. 17:16:14 CEST

    Sagan is still in there too.

     

  188. 17:16:44 CEST

    Up ahead, the two Frenchmen, Pinot and Alaphilippe, are all-in here, working together. The moment of hesitation behind takes their lead out to 20 seconds.

     

  189. 17:17:24 CEST

    Not much support for the GC riders in the bunch here, and everyone's running on fumes. This is a risk from Pinot but it looks like it could pay off.

     

  190. 17:17:57 CEST

    Kragh Andersen is on the front for SUnweb but once he does his turn, Mas and Gaudu try and stall it for their teammates up the road.

     

  191. 17:18:15 CEST

    Interesting that Mas is stalling it, given a GC rival is up the road gaining time.

     

  192. 5.5km remaining from 200km

    17:18:57 CEST

    Pinot and Alaphilippe are hurtling downhill, pedaling furiously. 20 seconds is the gap to De Gendt.

     

  193. 17:19:17 CEST

    Lutsenko takes it up for Astana in the bunch, and reduces the damage. He brings it back to 12 seconds.

     

  194. 4.2km remaining from 200km

    17:19:48 CEST

    De Gendt is pulling away here, incredible. 22 seconds with 4.2 to go. 

     

  195. 17:20:08 CEST

    This would rank among De Gendt's very finest breakaway scalps.

     

  196. 17:20:22 CEST

    The chase stalls again and Ciccone is forced to take it up himself!

     

  197. 3km remaining from 200km

    17:20:46 CEST

    27 seconds now for De Gendt! He's on an uphill rise but he's on his way to victory here.

     

  198. 17:20:59 CEST

    Pinot and Alaphilippe are now just 10 seconds ahead of the bunch.

     

  199. 17:21:23 CEST

    Sunweb are riding again but the stage win is slipping away now and surely they will stop riding soon.

     

  200. 17:21:40 CEST

    The bunch has thinned out massively here. 

     

  201. 2.3km remaining from 200km

    17:22:14 CEST

    Pinot and Alaphilippe find some ground again as the bunch hesitate once more. 20 seconds now! This is swaying massively.

     

  202. 17:22:38 CEST

    De Gendt is slipping now, too. 16 seconds with 2.2 to go and there are still a couple of short inclines.

     

  203. 2km remaining from 200km

    17:23:03 CEST

    10 seconds with 2km to go! Pinot and Alaphilippe are coming back! This is in the balance. What drama!!

     

  204. 17:23:30 CEST

    The time gaps are all over the place. 13 seconds is the latest check as De Gendt finds a welcome portion of downhill. 1500m to go for the Belgian. 

     

  205. 17:24:07 CEST

    De Gendt rounds a tight bend. He has no option but to give it everything. Pinot and Alaphilippe are so close and now 15 seconds ahead of the bunch.

     

  206. 1km remaining from 200km

    17:24:30 CEST

    Into the final kilometre and De Gendt is still away. He can see them chasing but he surely has enough ground.

     

  207. 17:25:11 CEST

    De Gendt is going to do it. He has to give it everything, but he now sits up and puts his hands over his mouth.

  208. 17:25:30 CEST

    Pinot takes second place, Alaphilippe third, and with it the yellow jersey. 

     

  209. 17:26:05 CEST

    Matthews and Sagan lead the reduced bunch home just under 20 seconds down. Big performance from Pinot. 

     

  210. 17:31:54 CEST

    1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal
    2 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
    3 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
    4 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
    5 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
    6 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
    7 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
    8 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team
    9 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos
    10 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos

     

  211. 17:36:46 CEST

    GC after stage 8

     

    1 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 34:17:59
    2 Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:23
    3 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:53
    4 George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:01:10
    5 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos 0:01:12
    6 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos 0:01:16
    7 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:01:27
    8 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First 0:01:38
    9 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:01:42
    10 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:45

     

  212. 18:05:21 CEST

    Here's what Thomas had to say

     

    “I’m fine, but it’s just frustrating – obviously it was a key moment in the race. Woods crashed, and just took out Gianni [Moscon] and me. I got tangled in Gianni’s bike and took some time to get going. The boys did a great job. I caught up for the final bit, and moved up through the group, but by the time I was in the first 10 or 15 positions that’s when they sprinted over the top for the bonus seconds. So I was kind of gassed for a bit. It’s annoying, and frustraring, but at the same time, to come back like I did shows I had good legs. You just don’t want to give any unnecessary time away. If I hadn’t have crashed I could have followed, and it’s a totally different story today. That’s how it goes.


    "I just didn’t want to ride on the front and tow everyone. Sunweb had numbers and a few others were trying to ride but there was just no speed in it. It’s frustrating – I was just sat there thinking ‘come on’."

  213. 18:31:35 CEST

     

  214. 19:52:07 CEST

    We have a video of the Thomas crash, along with reaction from the man himself. Here's the link

     

  215. 19:52:53 CEST

    And as ever we've compiled the post-stage instant reaction

     

    Tour de France: Stage 8 finish line quotes

     

  216. 21:09:26 CEST

    Poor Yoann Offredo spent the better part of the stage chasing, but persevered to make the time cut. Read more about his story here.

  217. 21:10:12 CEST

    Julian Alaphilippe says he didn't play to attack today to regain the race lead, but he is thrilled it worked out that way.

    Read more here.

  218. 21:12:34 CEST

    Thibaut Pinot caught the ride of a lifetime with Julian Alaphilippe on stage 8, moving up to third overall and gaining 28 seconds on Geraint Thomas and the rest of the favourites. Find out more here.

  219. 22:03:12 CEST

    Riders cry foul at Tour de France motorbikes, saying Alaphilippe slipstreamed into yellow

    Frenchman defends against allegations by Fuglsang, Mollema

     

    Thanks for following today's stage. Tune in again on Sunday for stage 9!

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