Stage 8: Belfort to Porrentruy – 157.5 km
Welcome to DP's coverage of stage 8 of the 2012 Tour de France.
Today is a relatively short stage, but it is bumpy with six distinct climbs including four at Cat 2, and the last a Cat 1. with a 10km descent to the finish.
The race is at the 67km mark, with 90km to go. It has been an active stage with Jens Voigt attacking with a few kilometres of the start. He was pursued and joined by some nine riders. These were brought back by the Sky driven peloton but then another larger group went away. Jeremy Roy has attacked that group and carved himself a lead of 32" over Vasili Kiryienka who in turn is being chased by 19 riders with the peloton at 1'11".
The big news is the loss of Olympic Champion Samuel Sanchez from the race a few minutes ago. It looked like one of his own teammates came down in strange circumstances, perhaps bumping into a spectator as he tried to squeeze down the left side. Sanchez and Alejandro Valverde cannoned into the back of him and flipped. While the others got up Sanchex lay there clutching his left shoulder. The attentions of the medical staff confirmed a serious injury as Sanchez winced and tensed up with each probe. He was eventually seen sobbing. That's his Tour and Olympics down for if the injury is confirmed as a break.
The top five results:
1. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) FDJ
2. Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC at 26"
3. Tony Gallopin (FRA) RNT at 26"
4. Bradley Wiggins (GBR) SKY at 26"
5. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) LIQ at 26"
It's a sprint for second and Evans takes it from Wiggins.
It's almost the finish - FDJ-BigMat's Thibaut Pinot crosses the line at last - Pinot winnnnsss!!
1km to go: Evans and Van den Broeck have attacked Wiggins. Pinot passes the giant Brontosaurus and the entrance to the time.
2.5km to go: Pinot and then the chasers get caught out on a roundabout. Now it is dead straight to the finish. Madiot continues to shout and scream.
3.8km to go: 42". It's going to be close - too close? Will he make it? With Madiot yelling at him he has an incentive to dig deep.
5km to go: The chasing favourites are working as a unit. Nobody is giving ground. The effect is the time advantage of Pinot is dropping - now its 47". Will they break his heart.
6km to go: Pinot still has over a minute advantage and the threat form Kessiakoff is fading. Marc Madiot is leaning out of the team car yelling his head off.
Less than 10km for Pinot. Kessiakoff is coming back, maybe a 100 metres behind. Behind them the yellow jersey group is at 1'15" - Wiggins, Froome, Nibali, Menchov, Evans and a few others.
11.3km to go: Wiggins is at the front of the chasing remnant of the peloton, but Nibali piles on the pressure. He hasn't a lot of time to do it before the road levels out. Froome almost loses it too, but corrects in time.
13.7km to go: Pinot is rocketing down the hill but still losing time. Kessiakoff is sitting on his cross bar to minimise his losses. Nibali is leading the charge now from the peloton. Evans almost loses it trying to keep up.
16km to go: The summit is reached - Col de la Croix - and Pinot crosses ahead of Kessaikoff. The peloton is closing fast - now at 1'44". The favourites are under pressure. Van den Broeck crosses the summit first, but Cadel Evans attacks immediately.
It's almost the summit and Thibaut Pinot has almost caught Kessiakoff. Now he has done so and passed the Swede.
It's Kessiakoff leading, Pinot at 30", a group of chasers, then the peloton at 2'30".
17.5km to go. Peter Sagan is off the back after riding for Vicenzo Nibali. Jurgen Van De Broeck's Lotto-Belisol boys are now pace-setting.
Kessiakoff still looks strong but Pinot is spinning faster which is deceptive. George Hincapie and Maxime Bouet are dropping off the back of the peloton. Yu can see why. The gap to Kessiakoff is dropping - now 2'44".
18.8km to go: Our former Mountain Biker Kessaikoff is finding out just how hard the Col de la Croix really is. No rest spots. This will hurt. Gallopin is already dropping back form Pinot. He can descend but will he lose too much time?
21km to go: Remember Tony Gallopin, whose uncle is the team Directeur Sportif, is just 3'13" down on Wiggins. There is a chance the top of the GC could get a knock. But the 3.7km to the summit of the next climb could wreak havoc.
24.9km left. Kessiakof is descending as fast as he can manage.He has a major advantage on his own, and he'll need every second for the next climb.
Kessiakoff is on the descent still with just under a minute in hand. Bauke Mollema is caught by the peloton.
26.4km to go. The leader is on the Cat 2. Côte de la Caquerelle close to the summit. 3'26" behind Liquigas' pressure is causing the peloton to shed riders, includign Boassen Hagen (Sky). Meanwhile Gallopin and Pinot have gone free of the chasers to catch Kessiakoff.
30.5km to go: Astana's Swedish rider Kessiakoff is not losing ground yet. He is 1'05" ahead, while the peloton has slipped back to 3'26".
The finish today is the first visit to Switzerland since 2009 when Alberto Contador won.
Liquigas has hit the front of the peloton pushing SKY of the pace-setting.
The race is passing through the middle of a pallet factory - like a giant set of children's play blocks.
The race is passing with 37.3km to go through the fabulous and spectacular Gorges des Pichoux. Lovely weather too. Kessaikoff has 1'17" on the chasers. Can he make the finish? Not alone probably. He has two more climbs - a 2nd cat Côte de la Caquerelle (834 m) and the 1st cat. Col de la Croix (789 m). The latter is a beast!
Full results of intermediate sprint:
1. Kessiakoff (AST) 20 pts2. Roy (FDJ) 17pts - at 1'05"3. Ten Dam (RAB) 15pts4. Pinot (FDJ) 13pts5. De Weert (OPQ) 11pts6. Gallopin (RNT) 10pts7. Moncoutie (COF) 9pts8. Kern (EUC) 8pts9. Kiserlovski (AST) 7pts10. Mollema (RAB) pts11. Soresnen (STB) 5pts12. Kruiswijk (RAB) 4pts13. Kadri (ALM) 3pts14. Hoogerland (VCD) 2pts15. Nerz (LIQ) 1pts
45km to go: The peloton have started to react and have clawed back the lead by 15". It now stands at 2'45".
52km to go: Kessiakoff is continuing to plow on. The time check form the Mavic chalkboard is 2'38" to the yellow jersey group. He is coming up to the intermediate sprint at 50km to go. The chasing group passes across the sprint line a minute behind.
Kessiakoff took the summit and is pushing on alone. He doesn't look as if he is riding outside of himself but nobody is trying to go with him. Sky is on the front of the peloton. Maybe they noticed that Gallopin is just 3'13" behind on GC.
Steven Kruiswijk and Kevin de Weert have made contact with Roy and Kessiakoff. This makes them a potential force with just 1km to the summit of the 928m Côte de Saulcy.
Kiryienka is making another attempt to get to Roy. He made one earlier that fizzled. None of the riders in front is a real threat to Wiggins on GC.
Chasing group now comprises: Moinard (BMC), Gallopin (RNT), Kern (EUC), Marzano (LAM), Nerz (LIQ), Peraud (ALM), Cherel (ALM), Kadri (ALM), Moncoutie (COF), Jeandesboz (SAU), Hoogerland (VCD), Valls Ferri (VCD), Caruso (KAT), Pinot (FDJ), Kruiswijk (RAB), Mollema (RAB), Ten Dam (RAB), Kiriyenka (MOV), Sorensen (STB), Kisierlovski (AST), De Weert (OPQ), Weening (OGE).
There will be a lot of riders just wanting to make the finish is one piece and not too exhausted.
The peloton hasn't committed itself to a chase which has given Roy and Kessiakoff a 3'05" lead. The chasing group which has swelled to 22 is the greater threat 1' behind.
Bradley Wiggins is back in the group looking impassive, 2'28" behind Roy.
78.3km to go: Roy and Kessiakoff have joined forces with a big group a minute behind: Moinard (BMC), Gallopin (RNT), Kern (EUC), Marzano (LAM), Nerz (LIQ), Peraud (ALM), Cherel (ALM), Kadri (ALM), Moncoutie (COF), Jeandesboz (SAU), Hoogerland (VCD), Valls Ferri (VCD), Caruso (KAT), Pinot (FDJ), Kruiswijk (RAB), Mollema (RAB), Ten Dam (RAB), Kiriyenka (MOV), Sorensen (STB), Kisierlovski (AST), De Weert (OPQ), Weening (OGE).
85km to go: Jeremy Roy is still looking strong. The peloton has been broken up by what has been from time to time a very fast pace, ahead of the schedule. Even Tommy Voeckler has suffered, but he has a bad knee.
Wiggins has had some sort of problem or query. He dropped back to his team car and is slowly making his way back in the company of Edvald Boassen Hagen.
Route of the 2012 Tour de France©Photo © Mark Sharon/Daily Peloton
Prologue, Sat 30 June : , Liège - Liège 6.1 km
Stage 1 flat, Sun 1 July: Liège - Seraing 198 km;
Stage 2 flat, Mon 2 July, Visé - Tournai 207 km;
Stage 3 medium mountains, Tues 3 July, Orchies - Boulogne-sur-Mer 197 km;
Stage 4 flat, Weds 4 July, Abbeville - Rouen 214 km;
Stage 5, flat Thurs 5 July, Rouen - Saint-Quentin 197 km;
Stage 6 flat, Fri 6 July, Épernay - Metz 210 km;
Stage 7 medium mountain, Sat 7 July, Tomblaine - La Planche des Belles Filles 199 km;s
Stage 8 medium mountains, Sun 8 July, Belfort - Porrentruy 154 km;
Stage 9 Individual Time Trial, Mon 9 July, Arc-et-Senans - Besançon 38 km;
Stage 10 high mountains, Weds 11 July, Mâcon - Bellegarde-sur-Valserine 194 km;
Stage 11 high mountains, Thurs 12 July, Albertville - La Toussuire – Les Sybelles 140 km;
Stage 12 medium mountains, Fri 13 July, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - Annonay 220 km;
Stage 13 flat, Sat 14 July, Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux - Le Cap d’Agde 215 km;
Stage 14 high mountains, Sun 15 July, Limoux - Foix 192 km;
Stage 15 flat, Mon 16 July, Samatan - Pau 160 km;
Stage 16 high mountains, Weds 18 July, Pau - Bagnères-de-Luchon 197 km;
Stage 17 high mountains, Thurs 19 July, Bagnères-de-Luchon - Peyragudes 144 km;
Stage 18 flat, Fri 20 July, Blagnac - Brive-la-Gaillarde 215 km;
Stage 19 Individual Time Trial, Time trial: Sat 21 July, Bonneval - Chartres 52 km;
Stage 20 flat, Sun 22 July, Rambouillet - Paris Champs-Élysées 130 km;
Link: Le Tour Official Website
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