TDF 2012: Stage 8: Youngest Rider Scores Stage

By Jen Benepe, July 8, 2012

Thibaut Pinot, the youngest rider in the Tour took his opportunity today and crossed the finish line in Porrentruy, Switzerland alone.

This 99th Tour de France is certainly becoming a race of the first of firsts, today with Pinot riding his first Tour, yesterday with Froome scoring a win –also his first ever.

“After the last hill, I couldn’t feel my legs but I was carried by the cheers of the fans, and it only happens like this at the Tour de France,” said Pinot after the stage.

And cheer they did, even though it was a Frenchman winning on Swiss soil. Seconds later there was a rush up of big star riders behind him, including Cadel Evans who sprinted for the line, Bradley Wiggins, and Allain Gallopain (RadioShack Nissan).

Pinot attributed a good part of his win to teammate Jérémy Roy, whom he said helped him through the climbs and won the most aggressive rider designation in the 2011 Tour.

It was a triumphant day for the Frenchman who worked in a 14-man chase group for half the stage, shed all 13 of them in the final 30 km, passed the lone lead rider, Fredrik Kessiakoff at the final of seven climbs, then raced downhill to the finish on his own–while still holding back some of the best riders in the world.

Cadel Evans sprinted at the finish, with Wiggins, Gallpain and Nibali close by

Kessiakoff who had been out in front of the stage winning two climbs, and coming in second on two others, won the Polka Dot jersey.

He told reporters he was chasing the points classification when  “I just found myself alone and I said to myself, ‘Okay, I’ll just keep on riding and see where it takes me’.

FDJ-BigMat’s Directeur Sportif could be seen in the team car behind Pinot as he approached the finish line: he was cheering and screaming, and hugged another team member in the car.

“Initially, I was meant to do the Vuelta a España but I insisted on doing the Tour and I made sure [Directeur Sportif] Marc Madiot knew what I wanted. Now I hope he’s convinced that I was right,” said Pinot.

In a chase group behind Pinot and Kessiakoff was a select group of riders that had survived a brutal pace up the last of seven mountains, among them Cadel Evans, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Horner, Haimar Zubeldia, Frank Shleck,  Jurgen van den Broeck, Vincenzo Nibali, and Alain Gallopin.

They were a little over one minute behind Pinot. But they were never able to catch him.

Wiggins still wears the Yellow Jersey, though Kesselkoff is now in White (for best young rider.)

In the final 3 km Cadel Evans made a last minute attempt to capture more time against Bradley Wiggins, but after being caught, sprinted for the line.

The Franco Swiss area has often proved to be a fertile terrain for a waged battle between teams and riders.

In 2009 in Verbier, Alberto Contador laid down the gauntlet and powered away from his rivals. But it is also where Wiggins came in fifth, whipping Cadel Evans up the final ascent.

The 157.5 km stage from Belfort to Porrentruy featured 7 climbs, beginning with a category 4 at the Cote de Bondeval , followed by the Cote du Passage de la Douleur, a 3 category climb, and a category 2 climb at the Cote de Maison Rouge, just before the riders would pass from France’s Belfort region to Switzerland.

As the race passed into the Canton of Jura, the first climb was at the cat-2, Cote de Saignelegier 73 km from the start.  At 97 km, the race climbed the Cote de Saulcy, another cat-2 climb, with an average 8.6 percent grade.

Traveling into the Canton de Berne, Switzerland, there was an intermediate sprint, followed by a 7.6 percent climb at Cote de la Caquerelle at 130.5 km, then at 141.5 km the most challenging mountain, the Col de la Croix, a 1 category climb with an average 9.2 percent grade, to a downhill finish into Porrentruy.

Nearly from the start of the stage there was an attack by 11 riders including Jens Voight (RNT), Phillipe Gilbert (BMC), Luis Leon Sanchez (EUS), Costa (MOV), Sylvain Chavanel (OPQ), and Dave Millar (GRD).  The pace in the peloton behind them caused some riders to lose contact, among them Robert Gesink (RAB) who was dropped at 30 k

Among the leaders, Voight attacked, and at the base of the third climb, he was joined by 6 other riders, Peraud, Vichot, and Kruiswijk.

Then came a move of 24 counter-attackers, among them Sandy Casar and Valverde, and they caught the leaders at 47 km. Meanwhile, the Sky Team was out in front of the peloton protecting their Yellow Jersey.

Directeur Sportif for FDJ cheering on Pinot as they neared the finish line

At 55 km, a group of 20 riders again broke from the peloton, this time Moinard, Allain Gallopain, Christophe Kern, Marzano, Merz, Peraud, Moncoutie, Mollema Hoogerland, Sorensen, De Weerrt, and Ten Dam. With them was the youngest Tour de France rider, Thibaud Pinot.

That break was chased down my Pinot’s teammate, Jeremy Roy (FDJ), who then at the 60 km mark went ahead of the break.

Sadly at 56 km there was a crash that involved Valverde and Sanchez. Luis Leon Sanchez, who finished sixth in last year’s Tour and was expected to compete in the 2012 Olympics this August had to leave the race, possibly with a broken collarbone.

On the descent of the Cote de Saignelegier, Kessiakoff and Roy sped ahead of the other break riders, and at the fifth cllimb, the Swedish Astana rider left Roy and began his solo break towards Porrentruy.

As they approached the intermediate sprint in Les Genevez, the main field was about 3 minutes 13 seconds behind the now 14-man chase group, that group some 55 seconds back from the sole rider Kessiakoff (AST).

Among the 14-man chase was Roy (FDJ), Ten Dam (RAB), Pinot (FDJ), De Weert (OPQ), Alain Gallopin (RNT),  Moncoutie (COF), Christophe Kern (EUC), Kiserlovski (AST), Mollema (RAB), Sorensen (STB), Kruiswijk (RAB), Kadri (ALM), Johnny Hoogerland (VCD) and Nerz (LIQ).

Swedish rider Kessiakoff took 20 points at the sprint 50 km from the finish, and behind him, no one contested for the line, the chase more important than wasting energy for points.

At 45 km from the finish, Sorensen and Kadri were leading the pursuit for Kessiakoff, now 1 minute a 5 seconds ahead. Behind them was the peloton with a gap of 2 minutes and 45 seconds.

That gap continued to grow between the peloton and the 14-man group as the riders approached the last two climbs, first at the Cote de la Caquerelle, then at Col de la Croix.

Kessiakoff’s lead was 1 minute 40 seconds at 30 km to go.  But as the chase group began to increase the pursuit pace led by the youngest rider in the Tour, Pinot (FDJ), first Mollema, then Roy and Kruiswijk were dropped.

Behind them Liquigas was at front of the peloton, though they had one rider, Nerz, in the chase group ahead. Knees (SKY), who had pushed the pace for his team, then Christophe Peraud, and Cherel (ALM), were dropped from the peloton.

With 20 km to go, the Col de la Croix, still lay ahead.  Pinot, Kern, Kiserlovski, Gallopin and Moncoutie were the only five riders left chasing him, and they were 1 minute and 35 seconds behind him.

As the climb started, the five-man chase, became a thrree-man chase, with Pinot eading the pace folowed by Gallopin and Moncoutie. Behind them Roy was caught by the peloton, still led by Liquigas.

As Kessiakoff neared the summit of the category 1,  Col de la Croix, behind him were two French riders now, Gallopin (RNT) and Pinot (FDJ).

In the peloton now 3 minutes 30 seconds behind the leader Kessiakoff, Boasson Hagen (SKY) was dropped. Swedish rider Kessiakoff topped Col de la Croix, and gained 5 climbing points there.

In the peloton Peter Sagan and three of his Lotto-Belisol teammates came to the front, with the idea that Sagan might win the stage, but the gradient of the Col de la Croix aat 15 to 24 percent continued to splinter the peloton.

Thibaut Pinot dropped Tony Gallopin in the early km of the final climb. Now it was Pinot chasing Kessiakoff.

Soon the 32-year-old Kessiakoff was being chased by 22-year-old Thibaut Pinot, who passed him before the summit.

Behind him with a gap of 2 minutes and 10 seconds, Lotto Belisol’s Jelle Venendert set a blistering pace, and they shed riders off the back of the peloton. Cadel Evans struggled to keep with them. Now they were over the top of the Col de la Croix, and there was 15 km to go.

It would require some skill for Pinot to stay ahead of the peloton on the 15 km descent into Porrentruy.

Porte and Rogers, two Team Sky riders were dropped as Vanendert and van den Broeck set the pace on behalf of Peter Segan. Then Rein Tarramae, who came in 5th yesterday was dropped, followed by Valverde.

Left in the chase group was van den Broeck, Evans, Nibali, Wiggins, Froome, Schleck, Kloden, Gallopin, Zubeldis, and Menchov.

Kessiakoff was soon swallowed up and the gap from the leaders was 41 seconds.

Inside the last 3 km, Pinot was 38 seconds ahead of peloton.

Behind him Evans was at the fron of the Yellow Jersey group. Pinot had a 37 second advantage ahead of the peloton.

Jurgen van den Broeck took a flyer inside the last 4 km, and was 35 seconds behind Pinot.

with one km to go, Cadel Evans bridged up to van den Broeck, in an attempt to steal the Yellow Jersey from Wiggins.

But the pack wouldn’t allow it, and he was back in the pack, and he sprinted to the line for second place with Wiggins on his wheel.

General Classification Standings at the End of Stage 8 (ASO)

rank rider rider No. team times gap
1. GBRWIGGINS Bradley 101 SKY PROCYCLING 38h 17′ 56”
2. AUSEVANS Cadel 1 BMC RACING TEAM 38h 18′ 06” + 00′ 10”
3. ITANIBALI Vincenzo 51 LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE 38h 18′ 12” + 00′ 16”
4. RUSMENCHOV Denis 131 KATUSHA TEAM 38h 18′ 50” + 00′ 54”
5. ESPZUBELDIA Haimar 19 RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 38h 18′ 55” + 00′ 59”
6. GBRFROOME Christopher 105 SKY PROCYCLING 38h 19′ 28” + 01′ 32”
7. BELMONFORT Maxime 16 RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 38h 20′ 04” + 02′ 08”
8. BELVAN DEN BROECK Jurgen 111 LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM 38h 20′ 07” + 02′ 11”
9. IRLROCHE Nicolas 79 AG2R LA MONDIALE 38h 20′ 17” + 02′ 21”
10. ESTTAARAMAE Rein 81 COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE 38h 20′ 23” + 02′ 27”
11. FRAGALLOPIN Tony 13 RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 38h 21′ 09” + 03′ 13”
12. PORCOSTA Rui Alberto 163 MOVISTAR TEAM 38h 21′ 20” + 03′ 24”
13. FRAPINOT Thibaut 146 FDJ-BIGMAT 38h 21′ 37” + 03′ 41”
14. USAHORNER Christopher 14 RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 38h 21′ 39” + 03′ 43”
15. LUXSCHLECK Frank 11 RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 38h 21′ 43” + 03′ 47”
16. SLOBRAJKOVIC Janez 181 ASTANA PRO TEAM 38h 21′ 59” + 04′ 03”
17. USAVAN GARDEREN Tejay 9 BMC RACING TEAM 38h 22′ 04” + 04′ 08”
18. ITABASSO Ivan 52 LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE 38h 22′ 08” + 04′ 12”
19. GERKLÖDEN Andréas 15 RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 38h 22′ 20” + 04′ 24”
20. FRAROLLAND Pierre 29 TEAM EUROPCAR 38h 22′ 22” + 04′ 26”
21. USALEIPHEIMER Levi 191 OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP 38h 22′ 42” + 04′ 46”
22. ITASCARPONI Michele 41 LAMPRE – ISD 38h 23′ 33” + 05′ 37”
23. FRACOPPEL Jérôme 91 SAUR-SOJASUN 38h 23′ 33” + 05′ 37”
24. BELVANENDERT Jelle 119 LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM 38h 23′ 43” + 05′ 47”
25. ESPIZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI Gorka 34 EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI 38h 24′ 01” + 06′ 05”
26. AUSROGERS Michael 108 SKY PROCYCLING 38h 24′ 08” + 06′ 12”
27. SVKVELITS Peter 199 OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP 38h 24′ 41” + 06′ 45”
28. ESPVALVERDE Alejandro 161 MOVISTAR TEAM 38h 24′ 41” + 06′ 45”
29. FRACHAVANEL Sylvain 192 OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP 38h 24′ 50” + 06′ 54”
30. RUSVORGANOV Eduard 139 KATUSHA TEAM 38h 25′ 47” + 07′ 51”

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