Thibault Pinot of FDJ-BigMat, at 22 years of age the youngest rider in this year's Tour de France, has won Stage 9 of the race in the Swiss town of Porrentruy. On a tough day in the Jura mountains, the youngster was followed home by a small group including defending champion Cadel Evans of BMC Racing, who finished second, with Team Sky's Bradly Wiggins just behind him. Wiggins stays in the maillot jaune having closed down a dangerous attack from Evans, 10 seconds behind him on the general classification this morning, inside the closing kilometres. Samuel Sanchez of Euskaltel-Euskadi, winner of the polka dot jersey last year, crashed out with a suspected broken collarbone and will almost certainly be unable to defend his Olympic road race title in London in three weeks' time.
Big crowds had cheered Pinot, whose win is the first in this year’s race by a French rider, during yesterday’s Stage 7 to La Planche des Belles Filles, which passed through his home town of Mélisey, where his father just happens to be mayor.
In the finale of today’s stage, as the group containing Evans, Wiggins and the third-placed man on GC, Liquigas-Cannondale’s Vincenzo Nibali, swept up lone chaser Fredrik Kessiakoff of Astana and slashed Pinot’s lead to half a minute with a little under 3 kilometres to ride, it was FDJ-BigMat team manager Marc Madiot, leaning out of the team car, who was screaming encouragement.
Pinot, designated the Benjamin du Tour by the French press as the youngest rider on the race, hardly needed it as he rode to victory, eclipsing Peter Sagan, winner of three stages last week, as the youngest victor of a stage in the race for nearly two decades.
Pinot had bridged across to a group of seven riders in pursuit of lone leader Kessiakoff with around 100 kilometres of the 157-kilometre stage from Belfort already raced.
Working with fellow Frenchman Tony Gallopin of RadioShack-Nissan, the pair set about reeling in the Swede, and on the day’s final climb, the Category 1 Col de la Croix, Pinot dropped his compatriot before catching and passing Kessiakoff and riding to victory.
Behind him, first Liquigas-Cannondale, working for Nibali, then Lotto-Belisol, on behalf of Jurgen Van Den Broeck, had forced the pace in the main GC group on that climb, and it was a select group that chased Kessiakoff and Pinot on the descent. Wiggins and Team Sky colleague Chris Froome, yesterday’s stage winner and today sporting the polka dot jersey, were there, as were Evans and Katusha’s Denis Menchov.
As that group headed towards the flamme rouge and into the final kilometre, Pinot was already preparing his victory celebration, but there was still an opportunity for Evans, following Van Den Broeck’s lead, to go on the attack and try and claw back some seconds on Wiggins ahead of tomorrow’s individual time trial, but the British rider managed to respond to the threat.
Today’s 157.5 kilometre stage from Belfort in France to Porrentuy in Switzerland was one of the shorter road stages of this year’s 99th edition of the race, but what it lacked in distance it made up for with climbing, with seven categorised ascents, more than in any other stages of this year’s Tour, featuring as the riders passed through the Jura mountains.
With the first of those ascents, the Category 4 Côte du Bonneval, coming just 20 kilometers into the stage, attacks came from the start, the first group to get away including big names such as Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Sylvain Chavanel, Philippe Gilbert of BMC Racing, and RadioShack-Nissan’s Jens Voigt.
The latter soon found himself alone at the head of the race, but on a day when the profile more or less demanded wave after wave of attacks from the main bunch, he was joined by other riders as a lead group of around 20 formed with 100 kilometres still to ride. FDJ-BigMat’s Jeremy Roy managed to get across to the front of the race and immediately attacked, and although he would be caught by a group including Kessiakoff, who himself went on a solo bid for glory, Roy would join in the jubilation of his team at the end of the stage.
At around the time Pinot was reaching the lead group, Samuel Sanchez was being attended to by medical staff, the rider in tears with not only his Tour de France but also his dreams of defending his Olympic title apparently over.
Subsequent reports suggested that the Spaniard had suffered a broken hand as well as collarbone in the incident, adding to a catalogue of injuries picked up in this race by riders picked to represent Spain in London, with Oscar Freire of Katusha suffering broken ribs and a punctured lung on Friday, and Movistar’s Jose Joaquin Rojas breaking his collarbone last Tuesday.
While Wiggins retained the maillot jaune, Team Sky have lost the yellow helmets they have worn throughout the race for topping the team classification, which is now led by RadioShack-Nissan.
Stage winner Thibault Pinot of FDJ-BigMat:
“I lived through the longest 10km of my life. When I saw the peloton had got to within 50 seconds with 10km to go, I began to panic. I owe much of this win to Jérémy Roy. When he was ahead in the stage, I did not have to ride, and then when I bridged the gap to him he helped me throughout the game that was being played out before the final climb. He gave everything.
"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 on the Tour de France. Initially, I was meant to do the Vuelta a España but I insisted on doing the Tour and I made sure Marc Madiot knew what I wanted. Now I hope he's convinced that I was right...
“Yesterday, I didn't dare disturb the GC leaders who were ahead of me, I kept in my place. But if I wanted a stage victory, it was now or never. We can see that every day, our team is striving to do something and there is a real group of friends here and I'm pleased to have earned a reward such as this.”
Cadel Evans of BMC Racing, defending champion, second today and second overall:
"People are isolated and a lot of the leaders are isolated, especially guys like Jurgen Van Den Broeck and Alejandro Valverde, who have already lost time and are willing to put it out there."
Chris Horner, who finished 11th today, of RadioShack Nissan which now leads team classification:
“We had a fantastic team today. Jens was a man on a mission to crush everyone’s legs and Tony was unbelievable. Such a good rider and good teammate. Then over the top it was Zubeldia, Fränk and myself and then later we caught Tony.
"We had four in the front group, trying to work for the stage win. I think it was a good show of the team working together and a spectacular stage. We had so many goals today – Tony could possibly go into the white jersey, there was the team classification and the possibility of a stage win, plus Zubeldia is there on GC.
"So many different reasons to be working in the break so we just had to put our heads down and drive it to the finish. I was hoping we could catch the last guy so maybe Tony could get a stage win.”
Sean Yates, Sports Director at Team Sky:
“It was a tough day but in the end it all worked out. Whichever way it panned out it was always going to be hard, not just for us but for everyone else. You can see that by the damage done and the time gaps between the groups it was not an easy day.
“The boys coped well with the attacks early on. We knew it was going to be full gas from the start. Christian was great today along with Eddy. Brad and Froomey were up there at the end when it kicked off. There were only five or six guys together over the top of the final climb.
“Tomorrow is the race of truth and the truth will be told.”
Maillot jaune Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky responds in today's press conference when asked about insinuations of doping made on Twitter:
“I say they’re just f*cking wankers. I cannot be doing with people like that. It justifies their own bone-idleness because they can’t ever imagine applying themselves to do anything in their lives.
"It’s easy for them to sit under a pseudonym on Twitter and write that sort of shit, rather than get off their arses in their own lives and apply themselves and work hard at something and achieve something. And that’s ultimately it. C*nts.”
Tweet of the Day:
"Critics need to wake up and realise that cycling has evolved. Dedication and sacrifice = results. End of story!" - Chris Froome, Team Sky
Tour de France Stage 8 result 1 PINOT Thibaut FDJ-BIGMAT 03h 56' 10'' 2 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 26'' 3 GALLOPIN Tony RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 4 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING 5 NIBALI Vincenzo LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE 6 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM 7 FROOME Christopher SKY PROCYCLING 8 MENCHOV Denis KATUSHA TEAM 9 ZUBELDIA Haimar RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 10 SCHLECK Frank RADIOSHACK-NISSAN + 00' 30'' 11 HORNER Christopher RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 12 KESSIAKOFF Fredrik ASTANA PRO TEAM + 00' 47'' 13 ROCHE Nicolas AG2R LA MONDIALE + 01' 25'' 14 SORENSEN Chris Anker TEAM SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK 15 MONFORT Maxime RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 16 ROLLAND Pierre TEAM EUROPCAR 17 SCARPONI Michele LAMPRE - ISD 18 VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC RACING TEAM 19 COSTA Rui Alberto MOVISTAR TEAM 20 LEIPHEIMER Levi OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP Stage 8 last man home 178 RUSGUSEV Vladimir KATUSHA TEAM + 23' 31'' General Classification after Stage 8 1 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING 38h 17' 56'' 2 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 10'' 3 NIBALI Vincenzo LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE + 00' 16'' 4 MENCHOV Denis KATUSHA TEAM + 00' 54'' 5 ZUBELDIA Haimar RADIOSHACK-NISSAN + 00' 59'' 6 FROOME Christopher SKY PROCYCLING + 01' 32'' 7 MONFORT Maxime RADIOSHACK-NISSAN + 02' 08'' 8 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM + 02' 11'' 9 ROCHE Nicolas AG2R LA MONDIALE + 02' 21'' 10 TAARAMAE Rein COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE + 02' 27'' Points Classification after Stage 8 1 SAGAN Peter LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE 217 pts 2 GOSS Matthew Harley ORICA GREENEDGE 185 pts 3 GREIPEL André LOTTO-BELISOL TEAM 172 pts 4 CAVENDISH Mark SKY PROCYCLING 129 pts 5 PETACCHI Alessandro LAMPRE - ISD 109 pts Mountains Classification after Stage 8 1 KESSIAKOFF Fredrik ASTANA PRO TEAM 21 pts 2 FROOME Christopher SKY PROCYCLING 20 pts 3 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM 18 pts 4 PINOT Thibaut FDJ-BIGMAT 16 pts 5 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING 12 pts Best Young Rider's Classification after Stage 8 1 TAARAMAE Rein COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE 38h 20' 23'' 2 GALLOPIN Tony RADIOSHACK-NISSAN + 00' 46'' 3 PINOT Thibaut FDJ-BIGMAT + 01' 14'' 4 VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC RACING TEAM + 01' 41'' 5 IZAGUIRRE Gorka EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI + 03' 38''
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.