Although stage 8 of the Tour de France was classified as “flat” by the organizers, the day seemed anything but straightforward this Saturday between Semur-en-Auxois and Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises. More than 2000 metres of elevation gain had to be overcome on the 183 kilometres which made up the day’s route, and a lot of small hills, particularly at the start, could be used as launching pads by some riders. Quentin Pacher was one of them, and when Neilson Powless, Stefan Bissegger and Jonas Abrahamsen attacked from kilometre 0, the French puncher went chasing. However, he couldn’t close the few seconds of delay he had as the trio was going full gas. Also, due to a peloton in control behind him, the rider from Groupama-FDJ eventually let it go. Yet, after some twenty kilometres, the race opened up again in a series of hills, and this time Romain Grégoire was the one to set off in chase. The young man, however, experienced the same outcome as his teammate. Although he came back just one minute away from the leading men, the peloton ultimately closed all the attacks and brought everyone back.

From then on, a more usual scenario took place, and only Abrahamsen found himself ahead of the peloton for the rest of the day. “We wanted to be aggressive,” said Benoît Vaugrenard. “Unfortunately, there were both too many sprinters’ teams and too many GC teams. There were then not enough teams wishing to attack, and we expected this situation. Therefore, we were heading straight for a sprint.” At the end of a very stressful last hour of racing, a bunch finish did conclude the day. In a final, slightly uphill kilometre, Biniam Girmay claimed victory. Clément Russo took fifteenth place. “We told him to take his chance, he wanted to go for it as well, but his legs got empty in the last 150 metres,” explained Benoît. On Sunday, a great stage is looming around Troyes with fourteen sectors of “white roads” tallying 32 kilometres. “The goal is to take the victory,” said Benoît. “We have the team to achieve it. It will be a big day, both in terms of logistics and staff, and obviously for the riders. We will have to be aggressive. There will be two races in one. One for victory, the other for the general classification. We will do everything we can to win this stage.”

To read in this category…

No comment