Thomas survives crash to finish in pack as De Gendt solos to superb stage win

Thomas de Gendt

Thomas de Gendt’s epic win was his second stage victory in the Tour

Defending champion Geraint Thomas lost time to Frenchmen Julian Alaphilippe and Thibaut Pinot after crashing 15km from the end of stage eight of the Tour de France.

Belgium’s Thomas de Gendt won after a stage-long breakaway, as France’s Alaphilippe reclaimed the yellow jersey with a late attack on the 230km route from Macon to Saint-Etienne.

He escaped alongside Pinot, who came second to climb to third overall. Briton Thomas, 33, is fifth overall, one minute 12 seconds behind.

Sunday’s stage is a 170.5km hilly ride from Saint-Etienne to Brioude.

‘It was a key moment in the race’

The Welshman had looked strong, occupying a spot near the front of the peloton for most of the day, but was unable to avoid trouble when Canada’s Michael Woods and Thomas’ Ineos team-mate Gianni Moscon collided in front of him.

Thomas, who was unhurt, became tangled up with Moscon’s bike, which snapped in two.

With the help of Wout Poels, Thomas was able to chase back to a much-reduced peloton, but he was unable to respond to Alaphilippe’s near-simultaneous attack.

“I’m fine but it was just frustrating,” Thomas told ITV4. “It was a key moment in the race. Woods crashed and took out Gianni and me and I just got tangled in Gianni’s bike.

“By the time I got up to the group I was gassed for a bit and obviously that’s when they started to sprint away. It’s annoying and frustrating but to come back like I did [is pleasing].

“If I hadn’t crashed I could have followed [Pinot and Alaplilippe] and it’s a totally different story then.

“Thibaut Pinot and Julian Alaphillipe have a good kick and punch – they are the guys to watch and beat.”

Thomas’ position in the general classification was unaffected, but he lost 39 seconds to Alaphillipe and 28 to Pinot, both of whom collected time bonuses on the final climb on the Cote de la Jaillere as well as at the finishing line.

Britain’s Adam Yates finished in the same group as Thomas, alongside all the other main contenders to move up to 12th overall, 1:47 behind Alaphillipe.

De Gendt’s solo ride to victory

De Gendt’s superb solo capped a day that began with him among a four-man breakaway on the longest stage of this year’s race.

The 32-year-old, whose only previous stage victory at the Tour came on Mont Ventoux in 2016, won all the classified climbs to move into second in the king of the mountains competition behind Lotto-Soudal team-mate Tim Wellens.

With the chase intensifying behind him, De Gendt then broke clear of CCC’s Alessandro de Marchi and held off Alaphilippe and Pinot’s late charge.

“The pack was closing and I had to go solo to try and stay ahead of them,” De Gendt told ITV4.

“I had amazing legs today. I had a really good feeling all day and with 70km to go I really started to believe in it. It hurts. It really hurts.”

Stage eight result

1. Thomas de Gendt (Bel/Lotto-Soudal) 5hrs 17minutes

2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/Groupama-FDJ) +6secs

3. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Deceuninck-Quick-Step) Same time

4. Michael Matthews (Aus/Team Sunweb) +26secs

5. Peter Sagan (Svk/BORA Hansgrohe) Same time

6. Matteo Trentin (Ita/Mitchelton-Scott)

7. Xandro Meurisse (Bel/Wanty-Gobert)

8. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel/CCC)

9. Egan Bernal (Col/Team Ineos)

10. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team INEOS)

General classification

1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 34hrs 17mins 59secs

2. Giulio Ciccone (Ita/Trek-Segafredo) +23secs

3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/Groupama-FDJ) +53secs

4. George Bennett (NZ/Team Jumbo-Visma) +1mins 10secs

5. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Ineos)+1mins 12secs

6. Egan Bernal (Col/Team Ineos) +1mins 16secs

7. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned/Team Jumbo-Visma) +1mins 27secs

8. Rigoberto Uran (Col/EF Education First) +1mins 38secs

9. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana Pro Team) +1mins 42secs

10. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger/BORA-Hansgrohe) +1mins 45secs

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/48976323

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