87th Tour de France - Grand Tour

France, July 1 - 23, 2000

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Complete live report

Stage 8 - July 8: Limoges - Villeneuve-sur-lot, 203.5 km

Scheduled start time: 12:30 CET

12.30 CET - Welcome to stage 8 of the 87th Tour de France, from Limoges to Villeneuve-sur-lot in the Garonne area. Three minor climbs on the first half of the race will keep Mapei and Paolo Bettini busy in order to keep the dotted climbers jersey. Sprints are located at Lanouaille (49.5 km), Le Moustier (109.5) and VillÚreal (172 km). The struggle for the green jersey goes on with Marcel WŘst holding it today. Yesterday's race made it obvious that Telekom will not work too hard for a bunch sprint for Zabel. They are quite busy keeping the yellow jersey on Alberto Elli and saving some powers for helping Jan Ullrich over the Pyrenees in a couple of days and then over the Alps.

Yesterday brought sad news to all Danes. Veteran Jesper Skibby had to abandon his eleventh Tour de France. He has an injury in one of his thighs. He has suffered several years from an inflammation that comes and goes, and now it came at the worst possible moment. He will have to rest for two weeks.

The riders have started rolling through town off to the actual start.

12.50 CET - Erik Dekker (Rabobank) attacked in the first kilometre wanting to gain points in the combativity classification. He has been joined by 17 other riders and the gap is almost half a minute to the rest of the 174 riders starting today.

13.00 CET - Paolo Bettini (Mapei) in the polka dot climber's jersey is in the front group anxious to get points on the day's early climbs (we wouldn't call them mountains). Along is also white jersey Salvatore Commesso (Saeco). Left behind by the peloton in the back already are two sprinters: Jans Koerts (Farm Frites) and Jean-Patrick Nazon (FDJ).

13.15 CET - So it was the Postie's that took charge. The gap shrunk rapidly when they started driving the peloton and it seems as US Postal is the team that rules the peloton. It was obvious also yesterday. The attackers are caught but new attempts are made. First Thierry Marichal (Lotto) attacked accompanied by Cassani (Polti), Bo Larsen (MCJ) and H°j (FDJ). But they were also caught. Now it is Nico Mattan (Cofidis) trying.

13.25 CET - Lots of small attacks and a fast start of this stage. The average speed for the first 35 kilometres exceeded 50 kph. It's cooling down a bit now with the peloton united.

13.30 CET - Still more attacks coming. This time by Michael Blaudzun (MCJ), Pavel Padrnos (Saeco) and Anthony Morin (CA) followed by five others but they were all chased down. Then Jacky Durand (Lotto) tried but never really got off up there. We are now closing in for the first sprint at Lanouaille.

13.35 CET - Four riders attacked before the sprint and managed to pass the line in Lanouaille ahead of the peloton. The order: 1. Mauro Radaelli (Vini Caldirola) 2. Dario Pieri (Saeco) 3. Massimiliano Mori (Saeco) 4. Jan Boven (Rabobank)

13.45 CET - Ten riders started to chase the leaders after the sprint in Lanouaille. They were Dekker (Rabobank), Voskamp (Polti), Voigt (CA), Larsen (MCJ), Andreu (USP), Lino (Festina), Jan (FDJ), Garcia-Acosta (Banesto) and Rous (Bonjour). The two lead groups were merging when another huge group, some 15 riders, got a gap from the peloton.

13.55 CET - The second group was caught when US Postal went to the front in the peloton, but the 14 riders up front prevailed. The names: Andreu, Dekker, Guerini, Mori, Pieri, Lino, Jan, Voskamp, Garcia-Acosta, Boven, Bo Larsen, Voigt, Radaelli and Rous. This could hold for some time. Voigt is leading the combativity classification with Dekker as fourth. The two other top contenders, Durand and Agnulotto, missed the train this time, and Durand especially is eager to do well.

14.12 CET - Erik Dekker won the second climb of the day at the Cote de Hautefort (70km): 1. Erik Dekker (Rabobank) 5pts, 2. Bart Voskamp (Team Polti) 3pts, 3. Pascal Lino (Festina) 1pt.

The average speed for the first hour was an impressive 49.1 kph on a quite hilly parcours. It's getting flatter on the later part of the stage.

The leader's gap is1.20 after some 80 km raced. Meanwhile Fred Rodriguez (Mapei) has attacked in some sort of bridging attempt.

14.20 CET - Rodriguez gets some assistance now from Sandst°d (MCJ) and Maignan (Ag2R). If they can cross most teams have a rider up front. The trio is 1.20 behind the leading group and the peloton is 2.10 behind the leaders.

14.35 CET - The leaders passed the third climb, Cote de la Bachellerie , category 4 at 85km with Dekker once again ahead of Voskamp and Lino. The gap to Rodriguez' group is 1.40 while the peloton is at 3.10. In the leader's group Voigt is highest on the general classification, 6.58 behind leading Elli at 24th place.

14.45 CET - Voigt is now virtual leader. Approaching the 100 km mark the gap is more than eight minutes. ONCE, that lack representation in the front groups are trying to repair that by sending off Serrano on a lone ride.

15.00 CET - The road ahead is filled with lots of small climbs but there is only one category 4 GPM left, at 185 km. This is not a typical sprinter's stage, it rewards attackers. It might be too early to speculate in the outcome of the race. Telekom have to start working anyway in the peloton if they want to keep the yellow jersey on Elli. But right now it is Mercatone Uno that drives the peloton but they are now more than 10 minutes behind the leaders who are now 17 since Rodriguez, Sandst÷d and Maignan joined at 113 km. Rodriguez with his sprinting capacity is probably aiming at a stage win here.

15.15 CET - Serrano's effort is over. He is back in the peloton after having paid for ONCE's lack of attention when the breaks were done. Mercatone Uno has managed to lessen the gap a little bit but it is still 9.54 after 120 kms.

15.30 CET - The second sprint at Le Bugue (128km), went to Denmark by Nicolai Bo Larsen ahead of Radaelli and Voigt. The gap is shrinking, it 8.40 now still with Mercatone Uno doing the work in the peloton. In the team they have Massimo Podenzana who won a stage in Villeneuve sul Lot in 1996.

15.45 CET - Kelme has taken over some of the work in the peloton, they also lack riders in the front group. The gap keeps shrinking quite fast and with 53 km to race it is down to 6'15.

15.55 CET - Farm Frites is joining at the front of the peloton. Jens Voigt is no longer leader on the road. Telekom seem to be able to keep the leader's jersey on Elli without having to do the job for it. Question is if they will work for the other mission of the day: a bunch sprint for Erik Zabel. The lead was for a while under six minutes but the group have been able to regain some, it is now 6.10.

16.10 CET - It is still the climbers' teams Mercatone Uno and Kelme doing the job in the peloton. The gap stays around six minutes and there are less than 40 kms to go. But then Larsen attacks in the front group and takes Mori along. They get a 100 m gap at first but were then reeled in. Then Voskamp tried but gave up since no one wanted to follow. Due to these attacks five riders are dropped in the front group. Let's see if they can rejoin. The group's lead on the peloton is 5.15 when Farm Frites once again sends some riders to the front.

16.20 CET - Bart Voskamp attacks once again and passes the last sprint in VillÚreal with a narrow lead ahead of Rous and Pieri. He is caught afterwards when Dekker is attacking but most of the group seems to follow.

16.26 CET - The weather has improved since yesterday but it is not the same heat as in some other parts of Europe. At 25 km to go Dekker (Rabobank is alone with 27 seconds to the others in the group and 5.42 to the peloton. There are ten riders chasing Dekker so some riders have lost contact.

16.35 CET - The group chasing Dekker, at 37 seconds, is getting smaller. Right now we can identify Carcia Acosta, Jan, Rodriguez, Rous, Sandst÷d and Pieri (with some reservation), when the bobbing Didier Rous attacks alone to get Dekker.

16.43 CET - Dekker still leading, I think we can quit bothering about the peloton now, but let's take one more look at the group chasing Dekker. Right now it's Rous and Jan in a two man effort working well together. But Voskamp, Garcia Acosta, Rodriguez and Pieri are not far behind. There you have the six chasers.

16.47 CET - Five km to go for Dekker who will take the lead in the combativity classification whether he wins the stage or not. But it is a stage win of course that he wants. The six are joined again some half minute behind Dekker.

16.50 CET - Dekker, at 42 seconds, has two wins this year. The prologue and one of the stages in the Tour of Sweden. Rous has once again attacked but is caught. The chasers aren't chase anymore. Dekker in the city streets going for his 26th victory, his finest. And he is well worth it. He made his first attack in the first kilometre this morning.

16.55 CET - Jan takes second alone after a late attack. Garcia Acosta starts the sprint among the others and makes it to the line. Rodriguez, Pieri, Voskamp and Rous follow.

17.00 CET - The other breakaways follow suite: Radaelli with the two Danes Bo Larsen and Sandst÷d then Mori. In a little group then Voigt, Boven, Magnien, Guerini and Lino. The peloton came in at 5.44 with WŘst ahead of Zabel, there were still some points to gain.

Elli stays in yellow, WŘst in green and Dekker gets the dotted climber's jersey.

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