But the massive shake up that Tour de France watchers were looking for never materialized: even with the first major climbs of the tour, Yellow jersey winner Thor Hushovd–more a sprinter than a climber, managed to stay with the pack and retain his overall position in the race, and in the end, even surprised himself.
“I knew that the final was very hard but I’ve got incredible form right now and also the motivation to keep the lead, so I’m very happy with the result today,” said the Norwegian sprinter.
It was a great victory for the Movistar team which lost two of its riders this year before the tour, Xavier Tondo in May who died under a falling garage door, and the other Colombian Juan Mauricio Soler who suffered severe head injuries in a crash in the Tour of Switzerland in June (he is still recovering).
“We have gone through very difficult times in the team this year, so I’m happy to bring a little happiness with the win. I dedicate it to everyone who supported me, but especially to Xavier Tondo who died, and Mauricio Soler, who is currently in hospital,” said Costa.
But it was the ride of 22-year-old HTC Highroad rider Tejay van Garderen that was the ride of the day by a young 22-year-old who for his first Tour de France race demonstrated amazing form and cycling tactics by pulling at the front for most of the race in the lead break group. His only mistake was too pull too much, giving an advantage to his Movistar competitor Costo, who had the legs to pull ahead in the last 10 km to the win.
“It would have been nice to get the stage win but the group just wasn’t working so well together. So we split it up but then everyone saw that I was one of the stronger ones and that meant that every time there was an attack, I was the one others were looking at to close it down,” he said after the stage.
Costa described a different situation saying that he thought he and van Garderen would work together to the end, but with the addition of two French riders, Roblin and Gautier , he said the situation became more “risky.” “When I attacked 4.5km from the finish, I felt that was the right time, and I was the strongest,” he said.
Robert Gesink, the White Jersey wearer held onto the coveted best young rider desgination for another day even though he seemed to fade on the climbs because of injuries he sustained in a crash in stage 6.
It was also a small disappointment no doubt for Astana rider Alexandre Vinokorouv who took a fast flyer in front of the peloton and stayed ahead for the majority of the 25 km to the finish–over two difficult climbs. But in the end he was not able to narrow his 32 second deficit to Hushovd when he was overtaken by the pack before the finish.
Cadel Evans maintained his second place position with Frank Schleck third. Climber and fellow Team Leopard rider Andy Schleck moved up in the overall rankings to 6th position, and Andreas Kloden of RadioShack–we told you about him in the beginning–is still in fourth.
The tour’s eighth 189-km stage from Aigurande to Super Besse-Sancy featured a climb finish considered one of the toughest in the tour outside of the Alpes and the Pyrenees, a two category followed by a 3 category, something like a one-two punch that should have shedded less than the best climbers.
This was the type of course that had prognosticators saying that Cadel Evans, Frank Schleck and Alexander VInokorouv could do well.
It was at the Super Besse summit, a ski resort in the winter, in 2008 where Yellow Jersey wearer Stefan Schumacher crashed in the sprint, leaving Riccardo Ricco as the winner of the stage, Alejandro Valverde, and Cadel Evans. Italian rider Ricco was later ejected during the Tour for doping allegations, and was subsequently suspended.
With 30.6 km to go just before the category 2 climb at Col de la Croix de Saint Robert there were still nine riders out in front, among them the eventual winner Portuguese rider Rui Costa, and American Tejay van Garderen.
Alexandre Vinokorouv attacked on the Cat. 2 climb at 25 km from the finish at the Col de la Croix de Saint Robert. His Astana team had been putting pressure on the front of the peloton, hoping to add an advantage to their climber.
Vinokourov was only 31 seconds behind Thor Hushovd, so his intent was to win both the stage and the Yellow Jersey.
The Russian rider made quick progress and came up behind the lead group who was a little over a minute ahead of the peloton.
Behind the break was the peloton at 2 minutes and 12 seconds, with Andy and Frank Schleck of Team Leopard in front, registering no reaction to the move by Vinokorouv.
The following climb into Super-Besse was only a category 3, but the peloton continued to shed riders off the back by the time they reached the summit of Col de la Croix de Saint Robert.
At 17 km from the finish, Vinokorouv was 4 seconds ahead of the Yellow Jersey leader, and he would be the winner if he could finish with the same advantage.
BMC went out in front to keep their man Cadel Evans in the 2nd position overall, and Hushovd benefited.
Costa, Riblon, van Garderen, and Gautier were the four riders in the front 9,.9 km from the finish. Cristophe Roblin made an attack off the front of the break, and that group was ahead of Vinokorouv, and holding their advantage because of attacks against each other.
Three chasers including Vinokorouv, another Astana rider De Paulo Tiralongo, and a Sky rider Juan Atonio Flecher were coming up fast behind them.
Then Tejay van Garderen attacked again just over 9 km to go. The others, including Costa, struggled to meet his attack.
The peloton was behind them by about a minute and 14 seconds behind the leaders, with 10 km to go, with Team BMC in front, and the big question was, where was Garmin Cervelo to protect Hushovd’s Yellow Jersey?
At 5 km to the finish the Moviestar Rui Costa had dropped van Garderen but the latter was not giving up.
Meanwhile, at the Col de Super Besse, the peloton began to narrow the deficit with the leaders.
Alexandre Vinokorouv continued to push the pace, a rider who is used to tough weather, while White Jersey holder Robert Gesink who suffered injuries in a crash earlier in the Tour was losing time meanwhile after being dropped.
Vinokorouv meanwhile powered away from the Sky rider Flecher and was out on his own looking for the leaders, 19 seconds back from Rui Costa. He had been chasing for about 15 km..
Behind them the pack lifted the pace, while Chris Anka Sorenson a team mate of Alberto Contador took a flyer off the front. Was it a decoy for Contador? If so, it didn’t work.
Then Philiippe Gilbert pulled off, and Alberto Contador accelerated behind him, with Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans following. The Gilbert jumped clear of all the riders.
Contador attached again followed by Frank Schleck, then there was an attack from Damiano Cunego, but it was Gilbert who managed to come close to catching the Movistar rider as he passed the finish line in front of him.
Gilbert came in second, Evans third.
Tejay van Garderen won the Red Polka Dot Jersey and most aggressive rider of the day, at age 22. the Washingtonian was third in last year’s Dauphine, and fifth in this year’s Tour of California.
OVERALL STANDINGS AT THE END OF STAGE 8: Source: ASO
|1.||HUSHOVD Thor||51||TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO||33h 06′ 28″|
|2.||EVANS Cadel||141||BMC RACING TEAM||33h 06′ 29″||+ 00′ 01″|
|3.||SCHLECK Frank||18||TEAM LEOPARD-TREK||33h 06′ 32″||+ 00′ 04″|
|4.||KLÖDEN Andréas||74||TEAM RADIOSHACK||33h 06′ 38″||+ 00′ 10″|
|5.||FUGLSANG Jakob||13||TEAM LEOPARD-TREK||33h 06′ 40″||+ 00′ 12″|
|6.||SCHLECK Andy||11||TEAM LEOPARD-TREK||33h 06′ 40″||+ 00′ 12″|
|7.||MARTIN Tony||175||HTC – HIGHROAD||33h 06′ 41″||+ 00′ 13″|
|8.||VELITS Peter||179||HTC – HIGHROAD||33h 06′ 41″||+ 00′ 13″|
|9.||MILLAR David||56||TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO||33h 06′ 47″||+ 00′ 19″|
|10.||GILBERT Philippe||32||OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO||33h 06′ 58″||+ 00′ 30″|
|11.||VINOKOUROV Alexandre||61||PRO TEAM ASTANA||33h 07′ 00″||+ 00′ 32″|
|12.||VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen||31||OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO||33h 07′ 07″||+ 00′ 39″|
|13.||BASSO Ivan||91||LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE||33h 07′ 31″||+ 01′ 03″|
|14.||ROCHE Nicolas||101||AG2R LA MONDIALE||33h 07′ 40″||+ 01′ 12″|
|15.||CUNEGO Damiano||161||LAMPRE – ISD||33h 07′ 40″||+ 01′ 12″|
|16.||DE WEERT Kevin||124||QUICK STEP CYCLING TEAM||33h 07′ 50″||+ 01′ 22″|
|17.||GESINK Robert||41||RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM||33h 07′ 56″||+ 01′ 28″|
|18.||ROJAS Jose Joaquin||88||MOVISTAR TEAM||33h 07′ 57″||+ 01′ 29″|
|19.||VOECKLER Thomas||181||TEAM EUROPCAR||33h 07′ 57″||+ 01′ 29″|
|20.||CONTADOR Alberto||1||SAXO BANK SUNGARD||33h 08′ 10″||+ 01′ 42″|
|21.||DANIELSON Tom||52||TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO||33h 08′ 25″||+ 01′ 57″|
|22.||VANDE VELDE Christian||58||TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO||33h 08′ 25″||+ 01′ 57″|
|23.||KARPETS Vladimir||191||KATUSHA TEAM||33h 08′ 32″||+ 02′ 04″|
|24.||MONFORT Maxime||15||TEAM LEOPARD-TREK||33h 08′ 39″||+ 02′ 11″|
|25.||GERDEMANN Linus||14||TEAM LEOPARD-TREK||33h 08′ 42″||+ 02′ 14″|
|26.||BARREDO Carlos||42||RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM||33h 08′ 53″||+ 02′ 25″|
|27.||TAARAMAE Rein||151||COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE||33h 08′ 55″||+ 02′ 27″|
|28.||ZUBELDIA Haimar||79||TEAM RADIOSHACK||33h 09′ 03″||+ 02′ 35″|
|29.||SANCHEZ Samuel||21||EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI||33h 09′ 04″||+ 02′ 36″|
|30.||TROFIMOV Yury||199||KATUSHA TEAM||33h 09′ 11″||+ 02′ 43″|
|1.||COSTA Rui Alberto||83||MOVISTAR TEAM||4h 36′ 46″|
|2.||GILBERT Philippe||32||OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO||4h 36′ 58″||+ 00′ 12″|
|3.||EVANS Cadel||141||BMC RACING TEAM||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|4.||SANCHEZ Samuel||21||EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|5.||VELITS Peter||179||HTC – HIGHROAD||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|6.||DEVENYNS Dries||125||QUICK STEP CYCLING TEAM||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|7.||CUNEGO Damiano||161||LAMPRE – ISD||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|8.||CONTADOR Alberto||1||SAXO BANK SUNGARD||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|9.||SCHLECK Andy||11||TEAM LEOPARD-TREK||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|10.||SCHLECK Frank||18||TEAM LEOPARD-TREK||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|11.||URAN Rigoberto||118||SKY PROCYCLING||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|12.||VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen||31||OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|13.||KLÖDEN Andréas||74||TEAM RADIOSHACK||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|14.||BASSO Ivan||91||LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|15.||VANDE VELDE Christian||58||TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|16.||HUSHOVD Thor||51||TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|17.||DANIELSON Tom||52||TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|18.||FUGLSANG Jakob||13||TEAM LEOPARD-TREK||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|19.||ROCHE Nicolas||101||AG2R LA MONDIALE||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|20.||MARTIN Tony||175||HTC – HIGHROAD||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|21.||PERAUD Jean-Christophe||108||AG2R LA MONDIALE||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|22.||VINOKOUROV Alexandre||61||PRO TEAM ASTANA||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|23.||THOMAS Geraint||117||SKY PROCYCLING||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|24.||TROFIMOV Yury||199||KATUSHA TEAM||4h 37′ 01″||+ 00′ 15″|
|25.||ZUBELDIA Haimar||79||TEAM RADIOSHACK||4h 37′ 12″||+ 00′ 26″|
|26.||MILLAR David||56||TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO||4h 37′ 12″||+ 00′ 26″|
|27.||HAGEN Edvald Boasson||114||SKY PROCYCLING||4h 37′ 12″||+ 00′ 26″|
|28.||MONFORT Maxime||15||TEAM LEOPARD-TREK||4h 37′ 12″||+ 00′ 26″|
|29.||JEANNESSON Arnold||134||FDJ||4h 37′ 12″||+ 00′ 26″|
|30.||LEIPHEIMER Levi||75||TEAM RADIOSHACK||4h 37′ 15″||+ 00′ 29″|
|31.||TAARAMAE Rein||151||COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE||4h 37′ 15″||+ 00′ 29″|
|32.||ROJAS Jose Joaquin||88||MOVISTAR TEAM||4h 37′ 15″||+ 00′ 29″|
|33.||VOECKLER Thomas||181||TEAM EUROPCAR||4h 37′ 15″||+ 00′ 29″|