The first jaunt through the Jura mountains ended in a stalemate between the overall contenders at the Tour de France. Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and his rivals came across the line as one, leaving the top of the general classification much the same as it had been at the top of the day.
It was a brutal day out nevertheless, with the action kicking off as soon as the flag dropped. With so many interested in making the breakaway, the pace was inordinately high, matched only by the day's temperatures. Stage 8 was raced at such a speed that it almost caught out the race's caravan and a few busses, who only got in just ahead of the stage winner Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie).
Contador made it through without any problems, in perhaps the most uneventful opening week for the Spaniard in quite some time, but he believes that the intense racing will put some riders in trouble during Sunday's queen stage.
"It was a day without any problems, and now it is important to rest up and see what happens tomorrow," Contador said at the finish. "It was a really demanding day, one where we had to stay vigilant and with a lot of stress. We had to try and stay up at the front on the climb, and it was really fast the whole day. For sure though, it will be a similar day tomorrow, and we could pay the price."
The final stage of the opening week will be a brutal affair from Nantua to Chambery, taking in some seven ascents, including the Mont du Chat. That climb and the one before it were featured in this year's Criterium du Dauphine.
Contador rode a conservative Dauphine, eventually missing out on the top 10, and he finished over a minute down on this stage. How he'll fare on Sunday is a different matter, but he remained coy about his expectations of the stage.
"Well, if I told you all of the things that pass through my head, it might worry you," Contador joked when asked what he thought of the day. "For sure, we will suffer a lot of attrition. Now we rest."
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.