Words & Photo: A.S.O. / CYCLING NEWS
Blel Kadri of AG2R-La Mondiale was the only survivor of the breakaway. Therefore, he delivered the first French stage win of the 2014 Tour de France whereas the battle of the giants gave a little advantage to Alberto Contador who moved up to the top ten on GC. But the Spaniard only regained three seconds from Vincenzo Nibali who reached a new summit: the 200th day of an Italian in the lead of the Tour de France.
Five riders in the lead
After a few skirmishes, a breakaway was formed at km 42 with the reunion of Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Blel Kadri (AG2R-La Mondiale), Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling), Adrien Petit (Cofidis) and Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge). Chavanel had gone clear at km 23, firstly rejoined by his former Quick Step team-mate Terpstra at km 26, and later by the other three as Yates, the youngest rider in the Tour de France now, initiated the reaction. Quickly, it became clear that Peter Sagan wasn’t going to ask his team-mates to ride behind the escapees as he did on stage 7, even though the finale at La Mauselaine was worth a try from him. The Astana team of race leader Vincenzo Nibali also chose to set the pace of the peloton on a slow motion while the five escapees covered 51.2 kilometres in the first hour of racing!
Kadri for a one-man show
With 50km to go, Terpstra, Kadri, Chavanel, Petit and Yates reached their maximum advantage of 11 minutes over the peloton. Just a few kilometers further, the sudden pouring rain encouraged the riders to speed up in the bunch. Chavanel and Kadri rode away as they climbed to col de la Croix des Moinats with 25km to go. Kadri continued solo 22.5km before the finish at the ski resort of La Mauselaine. Tinkoff-Saxo set the pace of the peloton in the climbs, mostly for keeping Alberto Contador safe in a rain soaked finale with fog in the downhill of the col de Grosse-Pierre. Some important GC riders went into trouble: Michal Kwiatkowski (OPQS), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Laurens ten Dam (Belkin), Fränk Schleck (Trek)…
Contador prevails in the final climb
Kadri first secured the lead in the King of the Mountains competition. He was logically awarded the price of the most aggressive rider of the day. Moreover, he kept the momentum and increased his lead over Chavanel and claimed a brilliant solo victory atop La Mauselaine in rainy conditions that prevented spectators from viewing the lake of Gérardmer. Nevertheless, the fight for GC went on. Contador finished the job of his team-mates and won his duel against Nibali, repositioned himself in seventh place on GC and gave an indication that he’ll be highly competitive in the mountains albeit posting a benefit of only three seconds over his rival. Nibali is the 17th Italian to wear the yellow jersey. For the 200th time, an Italian leads the Tour de France and there’s more action to come from the duelists.