Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R-La Mondiale) was surprise winner on the Mûr-de-Bretagne on stage 8 of the Tour de France after a perfectly-timed attack on the final climb. The Frenchman attacked twice from the peloton, his second acceleration enough to distance the remnants of the field that included Chris Froome and Alberto Contador.
Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) was second, with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) leading the small group to the finish for third but Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) lost ten seconds to his major rivals.
Stage winner Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R-La Mondiale)
“I was third on the Mur de Huy, that was obviously amazing,” he said after the stage. “So today I wanted to try and do something special. I tried two or three times to go, and finally on the third time it worked. I knew someone was behind me, but I just put my head down and pedaled for all I was worth. I'm just realizing now that I've won the stage.”
“I'm not sure that in the mountains I'll be able to take on Chris Froome, but on a finish like this, I'm a puncheur, I can take my chances. It's the sort of climb that suits me, so I feel very good about today. Not in the mountains. Everyone has their specialty, this one is mine. In the mountains I'll be there to help my team leaders.”
Second placed rider Dan Martin (Cannondale Garmin)
"I was on the wrong side of the group. I saw the AG2R guy go but I just couldn't get out. When I did it was too late and I'm really disappointed because the guys rode so well and they kept me out of trouble, relaxed, and they believed in me. We'll try again.
Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing)
"With the team I have and what they have shown so far, I think we are pretty confident," van Garderen said. "We are just going to go out there and ride as hard as we can. We have four world champions in that discipline on the team, so we will put out the best performance that we think we can."
Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) ahead of the stage 9 team time trial:
Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin)
“At first we had the goal to go for John [Degenkolb] today but he indicated that the final climb would become too difficult for him, so we changed plans to fully go for Warren [Barguil]. The plan was to take care of him and bring him into position in the front before the final climb started, which worked out pretty well.
“As Warren [Barguil] dropped slightly to the back during the climb and a split was about to happen I decided to react on the two guys that attacked. A little later the winner passed us and I could not follow, as he was too strong.
“I am satisfied and I felt strong today, it’s a nice feeling to be able to do my job and contribute to the performance of Warren [Barguil].”
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
“I had really good legs and could well have won, but when the three-man group including Vuillermoz attacked, I hesitated for a bit when I would surely have had to go after them. Into the finale, I was one of the wheels to follow, and it was impossible to try any further moves. I'm happy to feel good again, sometimes you win and sometimes you don't, but this bittersweet taste is hard to bear. Still, I want to congratulate Vuillermoz; he's spent a lot of races with the top guys lately and truly deserves this win.
"I'm in good shape and I think I could show it today. There's a serious test for all of us tomorrow with the TTT; for our team, the 'real Tour' is starting on Sunday. We went through many difficult days so far, other ones where we had to fight a bit less, but the terrain that suits us starts now. [Asked about the Movistar Team being favourites for tomorrow] Favourites? I don't know. Let's hope we can finish up there tomorrow. We're really strong at the moment, all the nine of us, and we hope to profit from that form tomorrow."
Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN)