Tour de France: Tadej Pogacar crushes rivals on mountainous stage 8

Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) won stage 8 of the Tour de France but it will be remembered – for many years to come – by the exploits of Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).

On the first day in the mountains, the reigning champion asserted his dominance with an astonishing long-range solo that saw him put more than three minutes into his rivals for the overall title.

He wasn’t able to cap the display with the stage win, as Teuns survived from the breakaway – which only formed from a vastly reduced peloton after a frantic opening 70km – to win alone in Le Grand Bornand. He didn’t even take a spot on the podium, pipped at the line by further breakaway survivors in Ion Izaguirre (Astana-PremierTech) and Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation).

However, he did move into the yellow jersey, as previous race leader Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) fell away in the mountains and second-placed Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) was unable to take up the mantle despite a brave effort. As for the main pre-race contenders, they were all left to lick their wounds, most of them coming home just under three and a half minutes in arrears.

When Pogačar made his move on the Col de Romme, the second of three category-1 peaks that preceded the descent to the finish, it was easy to forget the drama that had unfolded before the race had even hit the proper mountains. Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) was dropped as the race exploded on an early uncategorized climb and saw his challenge come to an abrupt end, with Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) soon joining him in a gruppetto that finished more than half an hour down.

During a frenetic opening couple of hours on rolling roads, the Tour de France looked wide open, as no team exerted an iota of control and Pogačar took it upon himself to shut down attacks from an adventurous Van Aert. However, question marks over the Slovenian’s support network were answered when UAE Team Emirates took the reins on the Mont-Saxonnex and the lower slopes of the Romme, and became an irrelevance when Pogačar took flight with some 30km still to run.

Carapaz was the only rider who could respond but, after declining an offer of collaboration, he too was left for dead. What happened next was remarkable, as Pogačar pretty much wiped out what was a five-minute gap to the front of the race. He made elite climbers look like they were riding an entirely different race as he breezed through the fragmented breakaway, ticking them off one by one.

The charge continued up the Col de la Colombière, where he found yet more speed, casually using the big ring on a climb that boasts an average gradient of 8.5 per cent. He passed Izaguirre and Woods in sight of the summit but Teuns just about evaded his grasp.

The Belgian then proved superior on the descent to the finish in Le Grand Bornand. Even if it will be overshadowed, his ride was also remarkable, as he attacked from the remains of the break to close a one-minute gap to Woods on the Colombière. In the end, he finished 45 seconds clear of Izaguirre, Woods, and Pogačar to claim the second Tour stage win of his career and the second for his team in two days.

Breakaway riders padded out the top 10 but the main interest was Pogačar’s rivals, particularly Carapaz. In the end, the Ecuadorian, despite picking up teammate Jonathan Castroviejo from the break at the top of the Romme, faded on the Colombière and was mobbed by the main group of GC riders on the run-in to Le Grand Bornand. For the second time in two days, he has nothing to show for his aggression and Ineos will need to conjure a miracle from here.

That group finished 3:20 down on Pogačar and contained Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe), David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Rigoberto Urán (EF-Nippo), Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), Enric Mas (Movistar), Ben O’Connor, and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-PremierTech).

Van Aert followed just 90 seconds later after a brilliant, largely solo ride. It wasn’t enough for yellow but he is still second overall, trailing Pogačar by 1:48. There are three more minutes back to Lutsenko in third, with Urán the only other rider within five minutes.

How it unfolded

The breathless drama began in the rain on an uncategorized but nevertheless difficult six-kilometre climb. Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) was the first rider to go clear, joined by Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) before the British rider fell away.

The damage to the peloton started immediately. Firstly, the sprinters and heavier riders lost contact, but then bigger groups started forming off the back. First Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) then Thomas found himself scrambling nearer the top.

Behind Poels, a chase group formed, containing Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Sergio Henao (Qhubeka-NextHash), and Stefan De Bod (Astana-PremierTech), and Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation). Poels took a lead of 15 seconds onto the subsequent downhill, where he was joined by the chasers, apart from Woods, who misjudged a wet corner and rode off course.

Still, they were all soon caught as the peloton fragmented further on the wet downhill roads, with sixth-placed Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) caught behind. There was no real time for dust to settle but 65 riders emerged in the front peloton, with Latour in a 30-rider group at a minute and then the Thomas group at two minutes. The Thomas group soon swelled to a large gruppetto together with most of the sprinters.

Up front, there were constant attacks and no control. Things really intensified when Van Aert started attacking on another descent with 127km to go. He bridged to a four-man attack and forced a response from Pogačar’s teammate Rui Costa, who briefly sandbagged as the move went clear.

When Matej Mohoric accelerated on a false flat with 120km to to, Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), who lost time the previous day, fell away and joined the Latour group. Then there was further panic when Ineos started attacking up front with Michal Kwiatkowski and Richie Porte, the latter drawing a response from Pogačar. Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) was then briefly dropped when he had a mechanical on a downhill.

The attacks came and went until BikeExchange exerted a little control ahead of the intermediate sprint after 45km, where two riders led out Michael Matthews. Still, the Australian was beaten by Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious). The Latour group reached the sprint almost three minutes in arrears, with the Thomas gruppetto at six minutes.

A false flat then led towards the first couple of categorized climbs, and the front peloton split in two, with Van der Poel among those distanced. It did come back ahead of the category-3 Côte de Copponex but then Poels launched another solo attack and led by 40 seconds over the top.

The front peloton split again on the climb, with a small group going clear, and there was more drama when Van Aert attacked to try and bridge the gap. Crucially, Pogačar sprinted straight away to try and get on terms. However, the group did all come back together. At that point, Soren Kragh Andersen (DSM) attacked and set off in pursuit of Poels.

Finally, things started to settle down on the category-4 Côte de Menthonnex-en-Bornes - 2.7km at 4.9 per cent – after 70km of non-stop full-gas racing. 16 riders managed to clip off the front, and none of them were Van Aert, Van der Poel, Pogačar, Carapaz, or indeed anyone who could be considered a threat to the overall. Pogačar and his two remaining teammates, together with Ineos at the front of the bunch, started to grab clothes and food. 

Up the road, in pursuit of Poels, were: Soren Kragh Andersen, Tiesj Benoot (DSM), Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Simon Yates, Chris Juul-Jensen (Team BikeExchange), Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic), Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Sergio Henao (Qhubeka-NextHash), Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), Aurelien Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroen), Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ), Ion Izaguirre (Astana-PremierTech), Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious).

Woods and Nans Peters (AG2R) then launched a counter-attack to bridge across. Curiously, they were briefly followed by Pogačar’s teammate Brandon McNulty, who soon saw better sense in dropping back to his leader.

That chase group caught up with Poels with 58km to go, a few kilometres shy of the first of the three big category-1 climbs. However, they lost a rider when Valverde fell away due to the cold and wet conditions, shivering so much he was dropped from the first peloton and had to stop to wrap up.

was Rui Costa was leading the first peloton/main GC group at 3:30, the Latour group was at 7:30, and the Thomas gruppetto – which now contained Roglič – was at 12:30.

The real mountains

The real climbing began with the, Côte de Mont-Saxonnex, a short one at 5.7km but with a stiff average gradient of at 8.3 per cent. Juul-Jensen set pace in the break as a more familiar pattern emerged behind, where Costa led for UAE, just ahead of Carapaz’s three teammates, and a new Jumbo-Visma trio of Van Aert, Vingegaard, and Kruijswijk, who had Kuss up the road.

The first climb was calm until the top, where there was a battle for the mountains classification points. Poels surged decisively clear of everyone else, despite the likes of Kuss and Elissonde showing interest. Costa led the GC peloton over the top at 5:05, with Pogačar also having McNulty and Formolo for support. Van der Poel and Van Aert were both in there as the steady tempo saw no real reduction in numbers.

On the 10km descent, the breakaway split again. DSM went on the offensive through Andersen and soon it was a two-up as Benoot made his way across. Behind, there were problems for Astana as Izaguirre misjudged a corner and, back in the bunch, De Bod slid out and crashed along with Vingegaard.

The next climb, with 37km to go, was the Col de Romme – a sterner test at 8.8km and 8.9 per cent. Andersen and Benoot hit it together but not for long, as Benoot was unable to match his teammate’s pace. Behind, Woods attacked from the fragmented break and impressively made his way over to Andersen before instantly leaving him behind. A little further back, three riders – Quintana, Cattaneo, Poels – clipped off in chase and it became four when Yates bridged across. Further up, Martin, Izaguirre, and Teuns managed to join the chase but they were all losing ground to Woods.

Back in the front peloton, with the gap reaching six minutes, Ineos brushed UAE aside and started to set pace through Kwiatkowski, but only for a while as McNulty came to impose himself. 6km from the summit, he pulled aside and Formolo took over, lifting the pace markedly. Van der Poel soon drifted to the back and lost contact as the group quickly thinned out. Lopez was dropped, along with Fuglsang, and Van Aert couldn’t survive much longer. Before long, there were only around 15 riders left as Formolo – despite being briefly taken over by Ineos’ Porte – continued his charge.

Pogačar made his attack a little under 4km from the summit. He was quickly tracked by Carapaz but no one else could get on terms. Porte and Geoghegan Hart were quickly dropped, along with Alaphilippe. 3km from the top, after asking for collaboration from Carapaz, Pogačar kicked again and dropped his rival. The 22-year-old breezed past remnants of the breakaway as he left Carapaz for good and asserted his dominance.

At the top of the Col de Romme, with 28.5km to go, Woods was still solo, taking maximum mountains points as he crested 1:10 clear of the seven-man chase group, from which Poels sprinted for the next-best haul of points. Pogačar went over the top 3:15 down on Woods, 1:10 up on Carapaz, and a further minute up on the main group of GC contenders, which contained: Gaudu, Mas, Vingegaard, Kelderman, Uran, O’Connor, Lutsenko, Fraile.

On the short descent, Carapaz found an ally in Castroviejo, who’d been in the break, while Van Aert made up a little ground and clung on to a faint hope of yellow.

It was soon onto the final climb, the well-known Col de la Colombière – 7.5km at 8.5 per cent.

Woods started to fade and lose ground, as Teuns emerged as the strongest chaser and closed in, catching Woods just under 3km from the summit. By that point, Pogačar was still well on the charge, closing to within two minutes, as Carapaz – now alone – was distanced to the tune of 90 seconds. Behind the main cluster of GC contenders, Van Aert was gamely battling alone but yellow was already heading towards Pogačar.

On the upper slopes, Pogačar, went to another level, making Martin and Poels look like juniors as he swept past in the big ring. 2km from the top, he was just 50 seconds down on the front two and in with a shout of the stage win. Yates was next to be sailed past, as Carapaz suddenly found himself 2:40 in arrears.

In the last kilometre of the Colombière, Teuns rode away from Woods, who looked behind and saw Pogačar advancing, having ticked off Izaguirre from the breakaway list. Woods mustered a response but was unable to get on the wheel as Pogačar breezed to the top.

At the summit, Teuns crested alone out front, but with a lead of only around 15 seconds over Pogačar, with Woods and then Izaguirre a little further back. By the time a fading Carapaz hit the top, he was some three minutes down, and only just ahead of the main group of GC riders. Van Aert was another 90 seconds further down.

On the descent, Pogačar looked eager to continue his charge and hunt down Teuns for the stage win, but it wasn’t to be. The Belgian made no mistakes, while the Slovenian – unable to make it 100 per cent dominance – was forced to drop back to descend with Izaguirre and Woods as the gap widened.

Teuns raised his arms at the line, Pogačar made his statement of intent, and everyone else was left to wonder what they do from here.

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Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious 3:54:41
2Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 0:00:44
3Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation 0:00:47
4Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:49
5Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain Victorious 0:02:33
6Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange 0:02:43
7Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 0:03:03
8Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis
9Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:04:07
10Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma 0:04:09
11Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
12Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team
13Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
14Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education-Nippo
15David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
16Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious
17Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
18Ben O'Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team
19Sergio Henao Montoya (Col) Qhubeka-NextHash 0:04:13
20Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:04:18
21Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 0:05:45
22Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:08:34
23Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers
24Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Team BikeExchange 0:10:19
25Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
26Louis Meintjes (RSA) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:12:21
27Bruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:12:23
28Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 0:14:14
29Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana-Premier Tech 0:15:50
30Omar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
31Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Trek-Segafredo 0:16:01
32Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM 0:17:00
33Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team DSM
34Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 0:18:22
35Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:18:55
36Franck Bonnamour (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
37Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
38Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo
39Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers
40Quentin Pacher (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 0:21:15
41Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:21:47
42Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Movistar Team
43Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma
44Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
45Ide Schelling (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:22:19
46Mark Donovan (GBr) Team DSM 0:23:18
47Victor de la Parte (Spa) TotalEnergies
48Simon Geschke (Ger) Cofidis 0:25:30
49Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:27:56
50Fabien Doubey (Fra) TotalEnergies
51Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates 0:28:26
52Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:28:41
53Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep
54Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
55Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
56Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-up Nation
57Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
58Cristian Rodriguez Martin (Spa) TotalEnergies
59Georg Zimmermann (Ger) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
60Elie Gesbert (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
61Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic
62Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
63Hugo Houle (Can) Astana-Premier Tech
64Michael Valgren (Den) EF Education-Nippo
65Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain Victorious
66Maxime Chevalier (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
67Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
68Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange
69Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain Victorious
70Christopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Team BikeExchange
71Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis
72Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
73Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fra) Cofidis
74Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-Segafredo
75Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis
76Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers 0:29:52
77Anthony Turgis (Fra) TotalEnergies 0:30:21
78Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies
79Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
80Stefan De Bod (RSA) Astana-Premier Tech 0:31:25
81Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Cofidis 0:32:41
82Luke Durbridge (Aus) Team BikeExchange 0:34:04
83Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange 0:34:06
84Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
85Dries Devenyns (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:34:34
86Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates 0:34:46
87Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers 0:34:55
88Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education-Nippo
89Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Start-up Nation 0:35:01
90Luke Rowe (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
91Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
92Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar Team
93Jan Bakelants (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
94Carlos Barbero (Spa) Qhubeka-NextHash
95Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
96Harry Sweeny (Aus) Lotto Soudal
97Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
98Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
99Pierre Rolland (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
100Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix
101Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Movistar Team
102Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
103Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
104Marc Hirschi (Swi) UAE Team Emirates
105Rick Zabel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
106André Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
107Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
108Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team DSM
109Jonas Rutsch (Ger) EF Education-Nippo
110Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
111Petr Vakoc (Cze) Alpecin-Fenix
112Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
113Cyril Gautier (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
114Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
115Silvan Dillier (Swi) Alpecin-Fenix
116Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
117Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
118Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-Nippo
119Nils Eekhoff (Ned) Team DSM
120Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-Nippo
121Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
122Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
123Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
124Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
125Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
126Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal
127Miles Scotson (Aus) Groupama-FDJ
128Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
129Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
130Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
131Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
132Jorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar Team
133Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Israel Start-up Nation
134Jelle Wallays (Bel) Cofidis
135Daniel McLay (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic
136Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
137Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team BikeExchange
138Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroën Team
139Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
140Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
141Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
142Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ
143Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
144Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
145Marco Haller (Aut) Bahrain Victorious
146Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
147Jonas Koch (Ger) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
148Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team BikeExchange
149Tony Martin (Ger) Jumbo-Visma
150Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
151Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep
152Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
153Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) TotalEnergies
154Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Qhubeka-NextHash
155Boy van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
156Chris Froome (GBr) Israel Start-up Nation
157Omer Goldstein (Isr) Israel Start-up Nation
158Julien Simon (Fra) TotalEnergies
159Nicholas Dlamini (RSA) Qhubeka-NextHash
160Simon Clarke (Aus) Qhubeka-NextHash
161Mikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates
162Casper Pedersen (Den) Team DSM
163Sean Bennett (USA) Qhubeka-NextHash
164Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
165Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
166Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
167Rafal Majka (Pol) UAE Team Emirates
168Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM
169Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal
170Michael Gogl (Aut) Qhubeka-NextHash
171Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
172Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Qhubeka-NextHash