Tour de France Stage 8 Preview: Potential Fight for Yellow?
Stage 8 of the 2019 Tour opens the weekend with a jagged, technical profile featuring seven categorized climbs and a tough finish in Saint-Étienne.
The stage should start fast, as the Intermediate Sprint comes just 33K in. BORA–hansgrohe and Team Sunweb might try to keep the race together so their sprinters, Peter Sagan and Michael Matthews, can score maximum points toward the green jersey. The first climb comes soon afterward, so if a breakaway hasn’t established itself already, we’ll see attacks as soon as the peloton crosses the sprint line.
After two hard days in the Vosges followed by the longest stage of the Tour, whoever escapes should be given a fairly sizable advantage. Expect 10-15 riders to get away initially, with the break composed of strong rouleurs, King of the Mountains contenders (Tim Wellens may look to extend his lead), and riders who perform well in April’s hilly Ardennes Classics. By the day’s end, 5-6 riders will likely survive to fight for the stage win.
Behind the breakaway, Trek–Segafredo will have its hands full defending Giulio Ciccone’s yellow jersey, especially with Julian Alaphilippe and Dylan Teuns nipping at the Italian’s heels on the General Classification. Trek won’t want to let either rider into a breakaway (unless Ciccone joins them), but Alaphilippe and Teuns could attack in the finale to try and overtake Ciccone’s lead—especially with time bonus available at the top of the Côte de la Jaillière, 12.5K from the finish.
Riders to Watch
If they’re not kept back in the bunch to ride for their GC captains, riders like Luis Leon Sanchez, Simon Clarke, Toms Skujins, and Rui Costa might get to go on the attack in the hopes of scoring a stage win, thus easing the pressure on their teams heading into the Tour’s second week. Max Schachmann is another rider to watch on a course like this one, as is Matej Mohoric.
And it’s Bastille Day weekend, so let’s not forget the French. Stage 8 is perfect for a rider like Lilian Calmejane, who’s been waiting patiently during the Tour’s first week, or Tony Gallopin, who might have an opportunity to ride for a stage win after Romain Bardet’s poor start to the Tour.