Thomas De Gendt, who has made a career out of long-range breakaways, did it again to win stage eight of the Tour de France in Saint-Etienne today.
The Belgian, who was part of a four-man break that led for most of the day, held off Frenchmen Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) over the final kilometres in the 200km ride from Macon.
The breakaway initially also included Dutchman Niki Terpstra (Total-Direct Energie), American Ben King (Dimension Data) and Italian Alessandro De Marchi (CCC) but, with 14km to go, De Gendt was on his own and left to fend off the bunch over the final climb and on the descent into the finishing town.
The Lotto Soudal rider admitted he had good “feelings” all day and that he believed he had a chance of victory as far as 70km out.
“We only got [a maximum gap of] five minutes and it went down really quickly to three-and-a-half,” he said. “We didn’t go really easy but we didn’t push that hard on the climb where the feed zone was.”
He said the break then went “all in” when they heard those who were pulling at the front of the chasing group started to drop off as they felt it was the perfect opportunity to increase their lead.
“We then had four minutes and I really started to believe in it (stage victory) again. We almost crashed in a few corners because we were taking some risks.”
Alaphilippe took back the overall lead from Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo). He leads the Italian by 23 seconds and Pinot by 53.
More results can be viewed below.
Stage eight results
1. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 5:00:17
2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ +0:00:06
3. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-Quick-Step
4. Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb +0:00:26
5. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
6. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
7. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
8. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team
9. Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos
10. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos
96. Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott +0:19:43
145. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data +0:26:32
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-Quick-Step 34:17:59
2. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo +0:00:23
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ +0:00:53
4. George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma +0:01:10
5. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos +0:01:12
6. Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos +0:01:16
7. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma +0:01:27
8. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First +0:01:38
9. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team +0:01:42
10. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe +0:01:45
71. Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott +0:37:33
122. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data +1:11:46