Wout van Aert won stage eight of the Tour de France as Tadej Pogacar extended his advantage in the yellow jersey.
After a steep climb away from Lake Geneva up to the finish, Van Aert beat Michael Matthews in a reduced sprint just ahead of Pogacar at the end of the 186km stage from Dole to the Olympic Stadium in Lausanne, Switzerland.
It was Van Aert’s second stage win of this Tour de France, while third place for Pogacar brought four bonus seconds to pad his lead in yellow to 39 seconds ahead of Jonas Vingegaard.
The stage into Switzerland looked ideal for a large breakaway to go down the road and contest for honours, but only three riders – Mattia Cattaneo, Frederik Frison and Britain’s Fred Wright – had gone clear before a crash split the peloton.
Pogacar, Geraint Thomas, David Gaudu and Romain Bardet were among those held up, with Pogacar taking a tumble, so the main group sat up to allow a regrouping, leaving three-strong break dangling up the road in a doomed mission.
Wright, the last man standing, was reeled in as gradients hit 12 per cent on the rise up towards the finish line, with Pogacar sitting in third wheel to ensure this was a day where the main favourites would need to be attentive.
Matthews tried to light up his sprint first but Van Aert, already so impressive in this opening week, once again had the power to edge in front and take the win.
Victory sees Van Aert extend his lead in the points classification, with the green jersey his goal after spending four days in yellow at the start of the week.
“Of course I’m super happy with the points for green up for grabs today,” the Belgian said.
“Today was a big chance to take a lot of points from my competitors and I’m really pleased my team put everything into chasing down the breakaway. Then you have to finish it off.”
Pogacar may have extended his lead in yellow, with Thomas now 74 seconds down in third place, but such is the 23-year-old’s appetite for success he sounded more disappointed he had not made it three stage wins in a row.
“It was not that far away but it was a fun game today,” he said. “It was a long day, getting more hot and there were a lot of dangerous points.
“The last climb I liked. For the sprint maybe I hesitated a bit and Van Aert passed me with super speed. For sure I’m a little bit disappointed but third place is still great.”
Asked about that early crash, Pogacar said: “I was in the middle of the crash. I hit the ground but not so much, it was one of the softest crashes I ever experienced. It was for me nothing bad.”
Van Aert tightens grip on green: As it happened…
Van Aert wins stage eight at the Tour de France!
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) times his move to perfection to win a second stage at this year’s Tour de France, a result that will see the Belgian extend his lead in the points classification.
Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco) takes second, while Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) picks up a 4sec time bonus which means the defending extends his overall lead.
“Of course I’m super happy with the points for green up for grabs today,” Van Aert said. “Today was a big chance to take a lot of points from my competitors and I’m really pleased my team put everything into chasing down the breakaway. Then you have to finish it off.”
Ineos Grenadiers’ quartet of Geraint Thomas, Adam Yates, Tom Pidcock and Daniel Martínez all finished in the leading group and so keep their top 10 spots in the general classification.
400 metres to go
The stage leaders crest the summit where the road flattens out, is this where the all-rounders like Wout van Aert or Michael Matthews can come to the fore, or is the defending champion Tadej Pogacar going to make it an incredible third successive stage wins?
750 metres to go
Riders are popping out of the back, but Tadej Pogacar is in pole position here. Can he make it three in a row?
1km to go
Rafael Majka takes over on the front: over to you UAE Team Emirates. But can Wout van Aert or Michael Matthews respond?
1.5km to go
Geraint Thomas is tucked in behind his general classification rivals. So assured and confident is Tadej Pogacar, the 23-year-old is able to look around and survey the field. He is, no doubt, working out who is suffering most while also watching to work out who may be planning to launch themselves or a team-mate towards the line.
2km to go
Wout van Aert rides behind team-mate Jonas Vingegaard at fifth wheel.
2.5km to go
Bora-Hansgrohe have a rider on the front, setting a fast pace, but Majka and Pogacar are more than a match for him.
3km to go
Jonas Vingegaard is at fourth wheel, marking Tadej Pogacar. Michael Matthews is a rider or two back, and a gap opens up.
3.5km to go
Fred Wright is holding on, but the big boys are coming. Rafael Majka is at second wheel, Tadej Pogacar perfectly positioned at third.
4.5km to go
Fred Wright hits the climb and his lead drops a little. A rider from Arkea-Samsic attacks – sorry, I can’t quite identify him, then Mikaël Cherel from Ag2r-Citroën goes, but Tadej Pogacar is placed at third wheel. Must say, Pogacar’s positioning throughout the race has been impeccable: no matter the terrain or whether he has team-mates guiding him, somehow he is always in exactly the right place.
5km to go
Fred Wright is still leading, but the chasing pack is flying along at around 60km/h.
6km to go
Mathieu van der Poel is riding on the front now, the big Dutchman working for his Alpecin-Deceuninck team-mates on the fast run-in to the final 4.9km climb.
7km to go
Fred Wright is burying himself and has, in fact, increased his lead: 31sec now.
9km to go
Teams are lined out in formation as they prepare for the tough finale. Mattia Cattaneo, meanwhile, pops leaving Fred Wright to press on on his lonesome. The boys and girls of Herne Hill Velodrome – where Wright learned his trade as a youth – will be getting very excited right now.
10km to go
World time trial champion Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers)n slouches over his bars, hunched down low as he punches a hole through the warm Swiss air. His team-mates follow in his not inconsiderable slipstream. Mattia Cattaneo and Fred Wright’s lead drops further still, to 35sec.
12km to go
EF Education-EasyPost, Ineos Grenadiers, Trek-Segafredo and Groupama-FDJ move up to the front of the speeding bunch, the leading duo, meanwhile, has seen its lead slashed to just 40sec. Michael Matthews, by the way, appears to be following the wheel of Wout van Aert.
14km to go
Victot Lafay (Cofidis), a stage winner at last year’s Giro d’Italia, has been dropped by the peloton, while Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), winner of the white jersey in 2018, has also lost contact after suffering a mechanical.
16km to go
Luke Durbridge has taken over on the front of the peloton on behalf of BikeExchange-Jayco. The time trial specialist has a huge engine and will be giving it his all now in an effort to reel back in the two-man breakaway. The man he is working for, Michael Matthews, has three Tour de France stage wins on his palmarès, the last of which came in 2017 in Romans-sur-Isère.
20km to go
Worth considering that although the final drag to the line is not a categorised climb, it is 4.9km long and has an average gradient of 4.5%. But do not be fooled, it pitches up to 12% around 1,400 metres from the line. Mattia Cattaneo and Fred Wright’s lead has dropped to 1min 3sec, surely – surely – they will be getting caught before the line?
23.5km to go
A few splits formed towards the front of the peloton, but it soon regroups before Christopher Juul-Jensen resumes his place at the head of the field. Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux appear intent on shuffling themselves up the pack, but BikeExchange-Jayco and Jumbo-Visma are in no mood to let them through, and why would they – those two teams have done almost all of the heavy lifting here today. The breakaway’s lead has dropped to 1min 13sec.
30km to go
Tadej Pogacar has his entire squad of remaining riders surrounding him. The UAE Team Emirates boys are tucked in behind the aforementioned Jumbo-Visma and BikeExchange-Jayco pacesetters, while Wout van Aert and the rest of his team are shepherding the all-rounder and, of course, Jonas Vingegaard and co-leader Primoz Roglic. Not too far behind are the Ineos Grenadiers team who started the day with four riders in the top 10 of the general classification.
32km to go
Jumbo-Visma and BikeExchange-Jayco, as they have been doing almost all of the day, are hammering it on the front of the peloton – travelling along at over 60km/h – and there is a suggestion of some crosswinds. As a result of the increased pace, the breakaway’s leads has dropped to 1min 30sec.
35km to go
Thibaut Pinot is working his way of through the cavalcade of team cars that trails the peloton. The Frenchman had Michael Morkov (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) for company, not too sure why the Danish lead-out specialist was off the back.
37.5km to go
Under clear blue skies and on sweeping wide roads, Mattia Cattaneo and Fred Wright continue to rotate as they press on in an attempt to hold off the galloping bunch. Their lead has dropped to 1min 40sec now, while Thibaut Pinot is another 30sec back, desperately chasing.
42.5km to go
Mattia Cattaneo ahead of Fred Wright are tanking it on the descent, but so is the chasing group who have gained almost 20sec on the two man breakaway.
Double trouble for poor old Pinot!
Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) hit the deck a few minutes ago.
Having remounted, the unlucky Frenchman took a whack in the face by a musette full of scran that, bizarrely, a Trek-Segafredo soigneur was attempting to hand to ne of his riders by leaning across Pinot. Ouch!
49.5km to go
Over the top of the Côte de Pétra Félix goes Mattia Cattaneo ahead of Fred Wright. There’s quite a long descent down towards the punchy-looking finale in Lausanne. They have managed to hold onto a lead of 2min 6sec.
How to win the stage? ‘Just sit on the Podge’
BikeExchange DS Matt White on what Matthews should have done in Longwy:
‘You’ve just gotta sit on the Podge*! Just sit on the Podge!’
Fully expect Matthews to ‘sit on the Podge’ on climb into Lausanne. Or try.
— Daniel Friebe (@friebos) July 9, 2022
55km to go
BikeExchange-Jayco has two riders – Amund Grondahl Jansen and Christopher Juul-Jensen – riding hard on the front of the peloton which is strung out in a long line now such is the speed they are travelling. Despite the pace of the chase, however, Mattia Cattaneo and Fred Wright have not only held onto their lead, but actually increased it a little, but only by a handful of seconds.
61.5km to go
Frederik Frison has popped, the Belgian was dropped on a slight incline while Mattia Cattaneo of Italy and London boy Fred Wright press on. The pair have a 2min 5sec lead over the peloton, but BikeExchange-Jayco appear determined to rein that pair back in, hoping to set up Michael Matthews for the gnarly looking finale. Matthews, though, is not the only rider who will fancy his chances today: Wout van Aert, Tadej Pogacar, Tom Pidcock, David Gaudu, Alexis Vuillermoz and a whole host of others may have a crack.
66.5km to go
Mattia Cattaneo, Frederik Frison and Fred Wright area around 15km from the third and final categorised climbs of the day, the category four Côte de Pétra Félix, and have increased the pace a little to pull out around 30sec on the peloton. Frison, however, appears to be struggling and the is Belgian desperately holding at the rear.
72.5km to go
Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) is forced to take a new wheel from a mechanic, but the young American does not look too flustered. Meanwhile, Mattia Cattaneo, Frederik Frison and Fred Wright have crossed the border and are into Switzerland. Incidentally, the race concludes in the home city of the International Olympic Committee today and there are six Olympic champions racing today: Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers, team pursuit Tokyo), Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers, mountain bike Tokyo), Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers, team pursuit London), Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma, time trial Tokyo), Owain Doull (EF Education-EasyPost, team pursuit Rio) and Michael Morkov (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl, Madison Tokyo).
79km to go
The breakaway has lost around a minute to the chasing peloton. Just a few kilometres from the Swiss border now, but I can assure readers this is not entering neutral territory, once the riders reach the below finale in Lausanne the gloves will be off.
85km to go
Mattia Cattaneo goes over the summit of the Côte des Rousses ahead of Frederik Frison, but there was not much of a battle for the two points up for grabs. Fred Wright, who won the intermediate sprint earlier, rolls through at the rear of the three-man breakaway – almost as if there is an agreement to share the spoils among themselves.
87km to go
The breakaway is 2km from the summit of the 6.8km-long Côte des Rousses which is not too steep, it has an average gradient of just 5%, and they lead by a smidge over two minutes now. But mark my words, they will be getting caught once the peloton decides to press down on their pedals a little harder.
87.5km to go
Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-EasyPost) is spotted dropping back to the medical vehicle, the Colombian receives some treatment to his left elbow following an earlier fall. He may have been involved in the crash at the start of the day, but I managed to miss that at the time.
92.5km to go
All, fairly routine stuff as the races edges towards the Swiss border. Jumbo-Visma and BikeExchange-Jayco continue to control the pace on the front of the peloton, while the breakaway’s lead has edged out to 1min 56sec, with the category three Côte des Rousses coming into view.
So, what is the breakfast of champions?
100km to go
The breakaway’s lead has dropped to below two minutes now, the peloton is keeping them on a short lead. Christopher Juul Jensen (BikeExchange-Jayco), the Dane with an Irish accent, has been sharing much of the workload with Nathan Van Hooydonck, while UAE Team Emirates are tucked in behind the Jumbo-Visma man.
Pogacar in the frame for third stage win in a row
110km to go
Frederik Frison crests the summit of the Côte du Maréchet to open his account in the mountains classification and add a few euros to his team’s prize pot which, let’s face it, is not looking too healthy at the moment. The peloton trails by a little over two minutes now.
113km to go
Frederik Frison has a few words with fellow breakaway rider Mattia Cattaneo as they head towards the first climb of the day, the category four Côte du Maréchet. Fairly certainly I heard one of them saying: “Five kilometres at full gas”. The climb, by the way, is just 2.1km long at an average gradient of 5.7%.
115km to go
Legs pumping away like pistons, Nathan Van Hooydonck is setting a fierce tempo on the front of the peloton. One of Jumbo-Visma’s three Belgian’s in the race is riding on the front, ahead of a group of BikeExchange-Jayco riders, the latter of whom will be hoping to set up Michael Matthews here today. The breakaway’s lead has now dipped below three minutes as it heads towards the Swiss border.
125km to go
The three-man breakaway’s advantage is holding at around the 3min mark. This will be great experience for Fred Wright, but I think the 23-year-old who did a brilliant ride at the Tour of Flanders in April where he finished seventh will know in his heart of hearts that they will probably be getting reined in by the peloton later this afternoon.
Gianni Moscon (Astana Qazaqstan) is the latest rider to abandon.
138km to go
South London’s Fred Wright added 20 points to his tally at the intermediate spring ahead of Frederik Frison, while Mattia Cattaneo was the third and final man from the breakaway over the line. A little over three minutes later, Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) came from behind in a four-man group to win the sprint for 13 points, pipping Wout van Aert, Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) and Fabio Jakobsen (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl).
Ben O’Connor (Ag2r-Citroën), the Australian who finished fourth last year and arrived at this year’s race in fine form having taken the final step on the podium at the recent Critérium du Dauphiné, has been spotted labouring towards the rear of the peloton. The 26-year-old has had a chastening Tour thus far and is already 13min 57sec down on race leader, his general classification ambitions already over, and there are murmurings that he may be considering packing.
147.5km to go
Following the early scare for a handful of general classification riders, things appear to have calmed down in the peloton. Tadej Pogacar is tucked in behind his team-mates who did a grand job yesterday of protecting the maillot jaune, but they are a man down today after Vegard Stake Laengen failed to make the start line having tested positive for Covid overnight. Likewise, Geoffrey Bouchard (Ag2r-Citroën) also tested positive and so joined the relatively short list of riders to have abandoned the race.
155km to go
Interesting to note that Jumbo-Visma appear to be monitoring the pace on the front of the peloton, but the three-man breakaway has increased its advantage out to 2min 51sec. Guessing the Dutch squad are thinking about making sure they are well positioned ahead of the intermediate sprint in Montrond in a little over 15km time. With three riders up the road, that means the first rider from the peloton can add 13 points to his tally in the race for the green jersey, which currently rests on the shoulders of their all-rounder Wout van Aert.
Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), the German climber who was in yesterday’s breakaway, was just spotted riding towards the rear of the peloton sporting a cut below his right eye.
Kevin Vermaerke (DSM), the young American who was the first man to go down in the pile-up that resulted in an unlucky 13 riders hitting the deck, has abandoned. The 21-year-old crashed a few times in the first few days of the race, but is sadly now leaving his maiden Tour de France in the back of a team car.
As it stands . . .
It has been yet another frenetic start to the stage and a three-man breakaway comprising Mattia Cattaneo (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl), Frederik Frison (Lotto-Soudal) and Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) lead by a slim margin of 45sec. There was a crash in the peloton that resulted in Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and race leader Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) hitting the deck. Romain Bardet (DSM) also went down and was spotted a couple of minutes ago receiving some attention from his team car. It looked like it was an issue with a shoe rather than any physical damage.
Full list of riders involved in that crash
Romain Bardet (DSM), David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies), Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), Albert Torres (Movistar), Martijn Tusveld (DSM), Kevin Vermaerke (DSM) and Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe).
And welcome to our live rolling blog from stage eight of the 109th edition of the Tour de France, the 186.3-kilometre run from Dole to Lausanne.
Before we have a very quick look at today’s stage, here’s a few lines from Tom Cary‘s race report from yesterday’s stage that should, hopefully, get you in the mood for the second week of the Tour:
This Tour is really hotting up, both literally and metaphorically. Britain’s Adam Yates finished Friday’s sitting in front of reporters in an inflatable ice bath outside the Ineos Grenadiers team bus – far from standard practice – after a brutal, hot, sweaty, dusty ascent of La Planche des Belles Filles.
What a race we have on our hands. On Thursday, after Tadej Pogacar’s imperious stage six victory, when the two-time winner snatched the yellow leader’s jersey for the first time this year, Sir Bradley Wiggins declared the 109th Tour “over”. He was not the only one thinking along those lines.
Many felt that Friday – the first summit finish of the race – was a foregone conclusion. Pogacar was simply too strong.
Well, the 23-year-old did eventually prevail. But, boy, was he pushed hard by Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard. Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), last year’s runner-up, attacked Pogacar on the final, gravelly section at the top of the climb – where the gradients are in well excess of 20 per cent – and it looked for a moment as if he had done enough. It took a superhuman effort from Pogacar to come around him right at the death.
Here are the highlights from another gripping day of racing. . . .
Today’s stage would appear perfect terrain for a breakaway, though the finale will suit a very particular type of rider: a puncheur, or if the group comes back together then it could be another stage for the general classification contenders. I’m thinking the breakaway may need to be quite a big one – at least 15 riders – composed of some strong baroudeurs in order to hold off the hungry chasing pack.
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