Youngest rider in Tour gets first French stage win this year, Samuel Sanchez crashes out with suspected broken collarbone

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''
7  FROOME Christopher     SKY PROCYCLING
8  MENCHOV Denis          KATUSHA TEAM
10 SCHLECK Frank          RADIOSHACK-NISSAN                 + 00' 30''
12 KESSIAKOFF Fredrik     ASTANA PRO TEAM                   + 00' 47''
13 ROCHE Nicolas          AG2R LA MONDIALE                  + 01' 25''
17 SCARPONI Michele       LAMPRE - ISD
19 COSTA Rui Alberto      MOVISTAR TEAM

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.