Alaphilippe Retakes Tour de France Lead After Stage 8
- The yellow jersey changed hands again on Saturday as Julian Alaphilippe retook the Tour de France lead on Stage 8.
- Belgian Thomas De Gendt led the race in a solo break for most of the day and took the stage victory.
- Thibaut Pinot jumped to third place in the overall rankings after Geraint Thomas lost some time in a crash.
After leading the race in a solo break for most of the day, Thomas De Gendt cruised to victory on Stage 8 of the 2019 Tour de France on Saturday.
The Belgian breakaway specialist, who at some points extended his lead by more than 40 seconds, eventually won the 200K stage by six seconds over Frenchmen Thibaut Pinot and Julian Alaphilippe. The latter retook the overall lead after a hard pursuit, giving his home country something extra to celebrate ahead of Bastille Day on Sunday.
“I had a really good feeling all day, so I believed in the victory,” De Gendt told reporters after the stage.
With 15K to go, Alaphilippe and Pinot broke from the pack to form a two-man chase group, gaining time on De Gendt over the final climb and descent to the finish in Saint-Étienne (though they never caught him). The ride pushed Alaphilippe, who had been trailing Tour rookie Giulio Ciccone for two days on the General Classification, back to the top of the overall rankings.
The duo, hailing from rival teams (Alaphlippe from Deceuninck–Quick-Step and Pinot from Groupama–FDJ), appeared to work together on the closing section of the final climb.
“I went for it on the last climb, and then I saw Thibaut. We looked at each other and we just knew. We didn’t even have to speak,” Alaphilippe said. “He had his interests and I had mine, but it was a moment of great beauty.”
Once again in the yellow jersey, Alaphilippe now leads Ciccone by 23 seconds on the GC. Pinot, meanwhile, jumped to third place overall at 53 seconds behind. (The 24-year-old Ciccone continues to lead in the Best Young Rider competition.)
Geraint Thomas, the returning champion, lost time to Pinot in a crash with teammates on a turn with about 15K to go. Thomas quickly remounted, finishing with the peloton and retaining fifth place overall, but his Ineos teammate Gianni Moscon’s bike broke in half in the collision.
Vincenzo Nibali, who won the Tour in 2014 and placed second at the most recent Giro d’Italia in May, had a notably bad stage. The Italian was dropped on the final climb, losing more than four minutes by the time he reached the finish. Nibali entered the Tour saying he was unsure as to whether he would chase stage victories or aim for the overall win. After Saturday, he likely has his answer.
Dylan Teuns, the 27-year-old Belgian who along with Ciccone made a dominant climb up La Planche des Belles Filles to win Stage 6, fell out of the overall top 10.
Peter Sagan once again extended his advantage in the Points Classification. The Slovak sprinter now leads Michael Matthews by 60 points in his attempt for a record-breaking seventh green jersey.