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Tour de France 2017: Stage 8

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Full rolling coverage of stage 8 of the 2017 Tour de France, with the finish line positioned 12km beyond the top of a first-category climb.

 

Good morning and welcome back to Cyclingnews' live race centre for full coverage of stage 8 of the Tour de France. 

The buses are parked up, the crowds have gathered, and the riders are signing on and posing for selfies. They will roll out of Dole at 12.10 local time. 

Here is a closer look at that final climb, and the subsequent 12km stretch to the finish line. 

You can read more about it in our stage 8 preview.

Breakaways have been kept on a short leash so far in this Tour de France, but the general consensus this morning is that this could well be the day that one finally sticks and makes it all the way to the finish. Chris Froome's Sky team could certainly ease the burden on their shoulders - both on the stage and in the stages to come - by letting a break up the road, as DS Nico Portal told us yesterday. 

Here's how the GC stands after 7 stages

Before we get underway, now's the time to catch up on yesterday's action. 

Greg Van Avermaet has won on medium mountain days in the past two Tours and, provided he gets the freedom from BMC leader Richie Porte, he could well be a candidate today. 

They're off

Pretty much everyone is predicting a big fight to get in the breakaway. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck was the sole candidate a few days ago but there will be no shortage of pretenders on a stage like this. Expect a fast and furious start to proceedings - we'll keep you up to speed with all the moves as they unfold.

It's a lengthy neutralised section today. We're still a couple of minutes away from the flag dropping.

Tiesj Benoot, Tony Gallopin, Tim Wellens, Thomas De Gendt. Lotto Soudal have no shortage of options today, and they're all up at the front of the bunch as they follow Prudhomme's car...

And there is Prudhomme, emerging from the roof of the car to wave the flag. 

Jan Bakelants accelerates and the Lotto riders follow. It's all strung out immediately.

Tsgabu Grmay is there for Bahrain Merida, trying to drag a move clear. 

Benoot, Serge Pauwels, and a Fortuneo rider have a small gap but more riders are coming up to them.

Thiago Machado comes to the front and it's lined out, but no splits yet. 

The road is flat for 28 kilometres. With so many wanting to get in the break, this might continue until the road starts to pitch uphill. 

Steve Cummings is taking a gamble here. He's the bookies' favourite, but he's still in his standard spot at the back of the peloton. He's decided not to waste his energy on these early skirmishes, hoping the race will still be together by that early climb, where he can then show his hand and still have a little more freshness in the legs. 

Sylvain Chavanel is indeed rolling back the years, getting away in a three-man move with Gianluca Brambilla and Alberto Bettiol.

This won't be our break. There's a fierce chase behind, with plenty of riders accelerating. Here comes Edvald Boasson Hagen. 

Boasson Hagen makes the bridge to that trio. Great effort. The peloton continues to ride hard behind. 

Lotto Soudal are chasing and more riders ping off the front. 

The leading quartet sits up as more attackers drag the peloton back.

There goes Van Avermaet.

Chavanel is on the wheel of the Olympic champion. Astana's Alexey Lutsenko skips over to join them.

It's scattering here. There's a group of six behind the leading trio, then another trio, then Grmay, then the peloton. 

Michael Matthews is in this chase group. LottoNL-Jumbo are chasing in the peloton behind, though.

Riders continue to ping off the front of the bunch as the predicted frantic start to the day is certainly materialising. 

The three leaders have 24 seconds over the peloton, with Sunweb pulling the peloton. 

160km remaining from 187km

Sunweb will be eyeing the intermediate sprint after 45 kilometres. That comes after the short, uncategorised climb, where Sunweb will hope to set such a tempo as to drop the likes of Marcel Kittel. 

Team Sky have set up shop behind Sunweb as some order is restored in the peloton. 

Van Avermaet, Lutsenko, and Chavanel have no option but to press on with their effort, even if it's taking a lot out of their legs for the reward it's yielding - the gap comes under 30 seconds.

Van Avermaet, Chavanel, and Lutsenko are caught. 

153km remaining from 187km

Arnaud Demare, Luke Rowe and Mark Renshaw are among the riders being dropped as the difficulty ramps up.

Groenewegen and McLay are also spat out as Sunweb's work bears fruit. 

Chavanel goes again! The veteran Frenchman is clearly on a good day, and he's away again, this time with Serge Pauwels. 

UAE Team Emirates drag the duo back, with a number of riders now coming over. 

Diego Ulissi, after receiving a sling shot to the front of the race by Vegard Stake Laengen, is looking to take this one on. But there's something of a regrouping behind him.

Much looking around at the front of the bunch as the riders anticipate the next attacks. The intermediate sprint is coming up in just over 5km.

147km remaining from 187km

QuickStep hit the front of the peloton, and there is the green jersey of Marcel Kittel. Sunweb failed to drop him and the German will be hungry for these points. 

Cummings and Voeckler, two riders who are normally found at the back of the bunch, have now come up towards the front, possibly preparing to go for the breakaway after this sprint. 

Kittel tightens up his shoes, Quick-Step in full lead-out mode 1.5km from the sprint. 

The Quick-Steps peel off one-by-one and Kittel launches his sprint, but he's challenged by Greipel, who grabs it.

Greipel, Kittel, Matthews, who was coming up fast on the right-hand side. 

And now we return to the fight for the break. Lots of riders off the front here. 

Riders swing across the road as the moves come and go. What an exacting start to the day. 

138km remaining from 187km

Four riders off the front here. Marcus Burghardt is there with Cyril Lemoine, a Movistar and an AG2R.

The counter attacks are coming thick and fast. Steve Cummings sets off. 

It's Jasha Sutterlin for Movistar and Mathias Frank for AG2R - Frank being a mountain domestique for Romain Bardet.

The race comes through some narrow streets in a town centre and Sky try to block the road and slow things down. But not everyone's having that. 

Lilian Calmejane attacks the bunch now as things show no sign of letting up. The leading quartet has a lead of 30 seconds but that looks far from safe. 

Chavanel is going again! He's in a counter attack with Ulissi, Naesen, Stybar, Dani Navarro, Pierre Rolland, and an Astana. 

Ulissi hits the front now as he swaps places with Sutterlin. Behind that quartet is a big group of chasing riders, including Sky's Sergio Henao.

The riders are on another short uncategorised climb and Greipel and Kristoff have been dropped.

125km remaining from 187km

119km remaining from 187km

The quartet is caught by the chase group. The peloton is only a matter of metres behind, so the race is pretty much all together again.

This large group are pulling away from the peloton again as riders call for collaboration. Ulissi is driving it. 

Sky have put Knees and Henao in this leading group. There are over 30 riders in there. 

The peloton appears to be slowing up, and letting this one go.

113km remaining from 187km

Sky lead the peloton with the rest of their men, but they're setting an easy pace, and the breakaway is building up a proper advantage. Pretty much every team has at least one rider in there, meaning there's no one team chasing in the bunch. 

We'll bring you the composition of the group shortly. This huge group may break up further in the coming kilometres, potentially decisively so on the first categorised climb of the day - the cat 3 Col de la Joux, which comes after just under 100km.

The names in the break

Latour is a big name there. He's 12th overall and in the running for the white jersey. Buchmann, 14th, is also a white jersey contender.

The breakaway is so big that it's pretty much a new race, and it's splitting up, with around 15 riders going clear. 

Here are the 13 riders who have made the selection at the head of the race.

That leading group has a lead of 45 seconds on the 33-rider group behind. The peloton is at 3:30.

Burghardt, Trentin, and Barguil have bridged across to the lead group to make it 16.

This could well be a big coup for Buchmann, the talented young German. He came to this Tour to help Rafal Majka but, after finishing 7th at the Dauphine, was also expected to ride strongly on GC, with a possible view to the white jersey. He started the day 14th, at 1:29, meaning he is now the virtual leader of the Tour de France. Having Burghardt up there for support will be vital, too. 

Arnaud Demare, dropped earlier, is some nine minutes behind the peloton now...

 Warren Barguill (Sunweb) doesn't like the big group and jumps. They are starting up the first ranked climb of the day.

Bernie Eisel took a tumble at the feed zone ealier. He is back at the race doctor's car, getting sprayed on his left arm and elbow and the big open wound on his left thigh, peeking out through his torn shorts.

Barguill is not alone in the lead. He has been joined by Pauwels.

It looks as if Barguill and Pauwels are still in the lead, but that the two chase groups behind them have come back together, forming a very large group once again.

The two leaders are a minute ahead of the chase group, with the Froome group at 3:34. When last heard of, the Demare group was over 12 minutes down, with the real climbing only yet starting.

Letour.fr tells us that Demare is ill. He has decided to try and hang on and hopefully meet the time limit. He has teammates Delage and Konovalovas with him, and they are at nearly 15 minutes down.

Barguill takes the two points atop the day's first climb, with Pauwels right behind him.

 That was the cat. 3 Col de la Joux.

The Sky-led peloton crosses the mountain top at 3:38 down.

Thomas Dekker has been through it all - and somehow survived. He sat down with Cyclingnews for a podcast to talk about his rise and fall and ultimate redemption.

The chase group is falling apart on the descent, breaking into multiple small groups.

Meanwhile teh gap to the peloton is falling slighlty, now at 2:47.

A small group including Matthews, Burghardt and Bakelants is nearing the leading duo.

Trentin, Uissi and Van Avermaet are also in that group. And they have in fact caught the leaders.

The situation is still quite fluid. The lead group is oly about 20 seconds ahead of the large chase group, with the field at 2:41. We have 70 km to go.

This weekend's Jura mountains stages will decide the Tour, AG2R's Bardet says. Read about it here. 

So, Direct Energie had four men in the initial 46-rider breakaway, and none of them have managed to get up the road. They have therefore hit the front of the chase group to track down the eight-man lead group. 

56km remaining from 187km

Cannondale also have numbers in the chase group, and they've joined Direct Energie in working on the front.

Team Sky are maintaining a strong grip on proceedings here. They've pulled Knees back from the break and the German is currently setting a decent pace on the front of the peloton, which is just 2:25 back from the front of the race. After all this, today's winner still could come from the yellow jersey group. 

As the climb bites, Matthews and Trentin lose ground in the lead group. 

Talanksy and Calmejane are the riders from Cannondale and Direct Energie respectively who have now launched their bids for the front of the race.

Talansky and Calmejane bypass Matthews, Trentin, and Burghardt on their way to the head of affairs. 

Talansky is 19th overall, 1:57 down. The American has finished top 10 at the Tour and was top-five in last year's Vuelta. 

52km remaining from 187km

Things just don't want to settle down for a single minute. We've had a regrouping at the head of the race, so make that 40-odd out front once again. 

50km remaining from 187km

Clarke, Calmejane, Gesink have settled into a chasing trio. We're under a kilometre from the top of the climb.

49km remaining from 187km

2:20 is the gap to the peloton at the top of the climb.

Now we have a descent - interrupted by a short kick up - to the bottom of the first-category climb, which is followed by that 12km drag to the finish line. 

Gesink, Calmejane, and Clarke, along with BMC's Nico Roche, are up with the lead group. 8 in there now.

Chris Froome overcooks a corner and veers off the road. A momentary lapse that could have been costly for the race leader. 

The pace in the peloton slows as Froome makes his way back up. Thomas is drifting back now, with just Nieve and Kwiatkowski flanking Froome now. 

A reminder that we have a special podcast for you today. Cyclingnews editor Daniel Benson travelled to the Netherlands to visit former Rabobank rider Thomas Dekker. From precocious talent to doping, destruction, and, finally, redemption, Dekker discusses his fascinating story. You can bookmark it for post-stage listening, perhaps, but here it is. 

Valgren has clipped off the front of the chase group in pursuit of the head of the race.

36km remaining from 187km

Here is how it looks. 

The pace has picked up in the peloton once again, and the gap is falling pretty quickly. It's down to 2 minutes. 

Kwiatkowski, arms folded over his bars, is turning it up here. This has been a chaotic day so far but Sky have managed things pretty well so far. 

Sky's upping of pace means they will soon be up with the remnants of that large initial breakaway group. 

Kwiatkowski has reduced the gap to the leading group of 8 to 1:40.

26km remaining from 187km

25km remaining from 187km

Landa and Henao, originally in the break, can now slot into the Sky train for this climb.

1:30 for the nine leaders as they prepare for the climb. Is that enough against a Sky-led peloton?

24km remaining from 187km

Bakelants is dropped as the gradients start to bite.

As is Van Avermaet. 

Thomas is back up in the Sky train as they continue their march, with Kwiatkowski pulling over. With the gap down to just 1:20, that's a job well done from the former world champion.

20km remaining from 187km

Simon Clarke has also lost contact so there are just six riders left out front. Pauwels jumps over to Roche, while Calmejane, Gesink, Valgren, and Barguiil give chase. 

Barguil is losing contact now. 

18km remaining from 187km

Calmejane attacks! The ever-impressive young Frenchman is away, opening up a small gap over the other three.

Roche skips over in pursuit of Calmejane. The Irishman looks strong today. We asked whether Van Avermaet would be afforded the freedom to hunt stage wins, but now we're seeing one of Porte's closest domestiques on the hunt for a stage win.

16km remaining from 187km

Gesink makes it over to Roche, who appears to be paying for his effort. Pauwels is still in tow.

15km remaining from 187km

It's all calm in the peloton as Sky continue to lead. The gap has grown to 1:35 to Calmejane. This is a category 1 ascent but it's not really hard enough - especially considering the flat 12km to the line, and the brutality of tomorrow's stage - to draw the GC favourites out for open hostilities. 

14km remaining from 187km

Calmejane is pulling away, with 1km to the top. He has 11 seconds on hand over Gesink. 

Calmejane could be on his way to a huge, huge victory. He crests the climb in the lead of this stage and Gesink has slipped to 25 seconds. 

12km remaining from 187km

Brice Feillu's attack on the climb comes to nought as the peloton sweep him up over the top. 

Calmejane quietly impressed throughout his neo-pro season last year, and then he claimed a breakthrough stage win at the Vuelta a Espana. This year he has continued his progress, with three overall stage race victories, at the Etoile des Besseges, Settimana Coppi e Bartali, and Circuit Sarthes. He is the real deal, and a victory here would announce him as a big star in his native France. 

7km remaining from 187km

5km remaining from 187km

And maybe there is a disaster... Calmejane is cramping up. He almost comes to a halt as he tries to loosen up his legs. Wow.

Calmejane is spinning the pedals again but Gesink has fresh hope. 

Calmejane is just spinning a low gear, trying to prevent that lactic acid from clogging up his legs. We're still waiting on an updated time check back to Gesink. 

3km remaining from 187km

Attacks in the peloton now, as Pierre Latour goes on the move. Sky are alive to it.

Calmejane, hailed by some as the new Voeckler, sticks out his tongue in the manner of the iconic French veteran. With 1.2km to go, he's got this in the bag now. 

Dan Martin is on the move in the GC group.

Martin is with Betancur and Gallopin.

Here comes Calmejane for his victory parade, with 500 metres to go.

Calmejane lets out a smile as he comes into the final 300 metres. He's beaming now, and he puts his hand in the air. He's going to enjoy this.

Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) wins stage 8 of the Tour de France

The jubilant Frenchman swings his arm in celebration. A huge win in the early stages of an extremely promising career. Gesink comes over for second place.

The peloton comes in now. Martin et al have been caught.

Calmejane embraces Direct Energie manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau. The same Bernaudeau who left Bryan Coquard at home in a controversial sequence of events. The Tour is already a huge success from his point of view. 

Wanty's Guillame Martin led the bunch over the line for third place. 

Top 10

General classification after stage 8

"I wanted to win but someone else was better," says Gesink.

Here's Pauwels

Dan Martin, who put in a brief dig at the end there, speaks to reporters.

A first finish line shot

And here's where the elation wears off and the pain starts to be felt. 

Geraint Thomas, who crashed on the corner where Froome went off road, speaks to reporters at the Sky bus. He didn't lose any time, and avoided injury. 

Calmejane pulls on the polka-dot jersey after leading the race over that final first-cat climb. "It's not necessarily an objective, but it could become one," he says. 

Demare is still out on the road, working to avoid the time cut. He's still a good way ahead of the broom wagon, and has teammates, so should be fine. 

Here's Chris Froome in his yellow jersey TV interview

Demare is in, to big cheers from the fans. The national champion lives to fight another day, though tomorrow will be an even greater struggle for him. 

Now we can hear from Lilian Calmejane

As always, we've rounded up all the snap post-stage reaction into one place. Here you go:

For plenty more photos like this, plus a full report and full results, head to our stage 8 report page.

Today was full gas but tomorrow will be something else. One of the most important days of this year's Tour. 

That was a mad stage. You can re-live it/try to get a handle on it with our highlights video. 

That's it from us today. We'll have stories from Station des Rousses on Calmejane, Froome, Quintana, Contador, and much more over the coming hours. We'll be back right here tomorrow morning for full live coverage of what is set to be one of the most spectacular stages of the 2017 Tour de France. Not to be missed! Thanks for joining us today, looking forward to doing it all again tomorrow. 

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