95th Tour de France - GT
France, July 5-27, 2008
Results & report
Stage 8 - Saturday, July 12: Figeac - Toulouse, 172.5km
Complete live report
Live commentary by Hedwig Kröner
Bienvenu de retour sur le Tour
de France! Welcome back to the Tour, today transiting from the Massif
Central down to the foot of the Pyrenees, where GC action is sure to unfold
in the coming days. Stage eight to Toulouse is the last chance for the sprinters'
teams to get a stage win - the next opportunity being stage 12 to Narbonne on
Thursday next week. Still, the first part of the day's course is pretty bumpy
with four categorized climbs to master: the Côte de Loupiac (Cat. 4, km 9),
the Côte de Macarou (Cat. 3, km 36.5), the Côte de la Guionie (Cat.4, km 52.5)
and the Côte du Port de la Besse (Cat. 3, km 70.5).
After that, the
run down to Toulouse is mostly flat, except for two small hills within the last
25 kilometres. If a breakaway forms in the early part of the stage, a motivated
bunch could reel it back in - depending on how fresh the sprinters feel at this
point. But the tiny bumps on the parcours' finale could also serve as a start
ramp for powerful finisseurs... We will know more in a few hours!
At the moment, the stage hasn't started
yet. The riders are currently rolling through the beautiful town of Figeac.
They will get the official start shot at 13.10pm to set out on their 172.5km-long
It is not very warm at the stage
start today, only 16° Celsius, with a mild 15 km/h breeze coming from the West.
The riders will therefore have light crosswind coming from the right hand side
as they'll ride down South.
And the start flag has been waved
out of the race director's car. The riders are off for the eighth day of tough
racing at the Tour de France! Chapeau to all of them who have made it
through so far. There are still 170 riders in the race.
There was an attack right away after
the start. Seven riders tried to get a gap: Will Frischkorn (Garmin), Cheula
(Barloworld), Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step), Christophe Riblon (AG2R), Niki
Terpstra (Milram), Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ) and Stéphane Augé (Cofidis). They
were caught at the four kilometre mark.
Yesterday's stage counted the most
losses as four riders did not see the finish due to health problems: Mauro Facci
(Quick Step), John Gadret (AG2R), Christophe Moreau (Agritubel) and Lilian Jégou
(FDJ). Moreover, Magnus Backstedt (Garmin-Chipotle) finished outside the time
Last but not least, Manuel Beltran (Liquigas) is also no
longer part of the race after failing a doping control for EPO in the first
stage this year. It is very annoying to hear this news about the former domestique
of Lance Armstrong. We thought that maybe we would be spared from having to
report any doping news this time at the Tour, but it seems not so.
David De La Fuente is continuing
his raid for his polka dot jersey. The Spanish Saunier Duval rider took all
the points at the first KOM, ahead of Simon Gerrans (Crédit Agricole) and Egoi
De La Fuente sat up after his effort, but Gerrans
and Martinez are currently still off the front.
13:31 CEST 14km/158.5km to go
But the pair didn't
get far. The pace is high at the moment and the two of them were quickly caught
We have another breakaway attempt
by some ten riders, but race radio hasn't given us the names of those involved
yet. We're trying to find out as quickly as possible.
13:38 CEST 18km/154.5km to go
the bunch reeled them in again. The pace is still incredibly high.
There have been a number of punctures
- including Julian Dean (Garmin) and Marcus Burghardt (Columbia). But the bunch
is still together and racing fast.
It slipped by a bit unnoticed for
many, but there are no
time bonuses this year in the Tour de France. Which made it necessary to
sometimes use the stage ranking to determine who will be ahead. That was similar
to how the polka dot jersey was awarded in stage one. Both Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues
Telecom) and Björn Schröder (Team Milram) had eight points, but the Frenchman
Voeckler took the lead by placing 126th. Schröder ended the day in 129th position...
The bunch is still all together.
It has covered 26 kilometres in the first 30 minutes of racing.
Another 12 riders have attacked.
Obviously without a Cofidis rider as the French team is in pursuit.
13:53 CEST 33km/139.5km to go
Riders are bridging
up to the escapists. It seems there are now 14 riders in the lead. We'll give
you their names once we have them!
13:56 CEST 34km/138.5km to go
The group now has
an advantage of 30 seconds over the bunch. One of the riders to bridge up to
them was Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner)! But he realized he was destroying
the break's chances by his presence and let go of the lead group. Now, 13 riders
are ahead of the peloton on the approach to the second climb of the stage, the
Côte de Macarou (Cat. 3, km 36.5).
But it was no use. The break was
caught... It will be a demanding stage for the bunch if it goes on like this.
14:05 CEST 39km/133.5km to go
goes on the climb. Laurent Lefevere (Bouygues) jumped away, while three others
including polka dot jersey de La Fuente are in pursuit. Lefèvre took the points
at the summit, with De La Fuente second. Two FDJ riders, Yoann Le Boulanger
and Sandy Casar were third and fourth at the summit.
Lefèvre continues his breakaway attempt
alone. He has some 30 seconds over the bunch.
Lefèvre is able to extend his lead.
But he is still all alone out there...
The poor Frenchman is given the okay
by the bunch. But does anybody care to join him so that he doesn't have to do
this by himself?
14:13 CEST 45km/127.5km to go
It looks like this
is it. Lefèvre has a 1'45 gap and the Columbia riders have taken their front
positions in the bunch, controlling the pace.
Ah! Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel) is
trying to bridge up to the Frenchman now. But the Spaniard is being marked by
one of Lefèvre’s team-mates, Jérôme Pineau. We wonder... wouldn't Lefèvre be
better of with some company? He doesn't have any mountain points on his counter
yet, either. Neither does Txurruka.
Christophe Riblon of AG2R countered
and has now caught Txurruka and Pineau. They are in pursuit of Lefèvre who had
a lead of 1'30 at the last check.
14:23 CEST 52km/120.5km to go
The three are working
together now to catch Lefèvre, who will be happy to have a team-mate up there
The average speed for the first hour
was 45.6km/h. Now, the pace eases up a bit, with Lefèvre already more than three
minutes in front of the bunch. The chase group of three is at 1'30 between them.
The riders crossed the third categorized
climb of today, the Côte de la Guionie (Cat. 4, km 52.5). Lefèvre of course
took all the points, followed by Txurruka and Riblon.
Columbia's Marcus Burghardt leads
the pack out. Fabian Cancellara (CSC) gets a rear wheel change as he flatted.
The weather has deteriorated with some rain coming down now. The riders all
have long sleeves and their rain jackets.
14:35 CEST 62.5km/110km to go
The double TT world
champ is chasing back within the director's car caravan now. No worries about
Lefèvre now leads the bunch by 5 minutes.
But the chasing trio is still 1'30
behind the lone leader. For some kilometres now, that gap has been unchanged.
Columbia is starting to put some
pressure again on the pedals. They don't want to give the break too much of
Riblon slipped on one of the white marks in the middle
of the road, but stayed upright. More adrenaline!
Lefèvre is on the last categorized
climb for today, the Côte du Port de la Besse (Cat. 3, km 70.5). He gets a bottle
of water from the neutral motorbike, the "moto fraicheur" - the "freshness moto".
It's stopped raining, but the road
is still wet.
Apparently, Lefèvre is not aware
that there's a team-mate bridging up to him. The Bouygues rider doesn't have
a radio connection with his team car. The car of the second directeur sportif
still needs to come up to his side and tell him.
The current race situation is:
- Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom)
- Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel), Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom), Christophe
Riblon (AG2R) at 1.30
- Peloton at 4.45
Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne)
just punctured, as well as Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and now George Hincapie (Columbia),
14:53 CEST 74.5km/98km to go
The gap between
the leader and the bunch has grown again to 5'17.
The Bouygues Telecom car is now at
Lefèvre's side, his DS talking to him. The Frenchman has an earpiece, but it
mustn't have worked.
The points at the summit of the climb
were taken by Lefèvre, followed at 1'40 minutes by Txurruka, Pineau and Riblon
in that order.
It's started raining again... Mark Cavendish (Columbia)
also punctured but is back inside the bunch now.
Cadel Evans had some predictions
for Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown this morning in Figeac. "It was an intense
stage [yesterday]. We have all the ingredients to have the same today. It will
be quite dangerous and nervous."
Evans' team-mate Yaroslav Popovych
recapped stage 7 for Gregor Brown. "Yesterday was quite hard from the start.
As you saw everybody was ahead, but when Cunego crashed, the race started to
[become] very hard. I don't agree if they knew that Cunego crashed when they
started to pull hard."
For the Silence-Lotto team, everything was
fine. "We are very calm. Evans was in the front group. I was just following
Lampre as they pulled the groups back together."
For today, the Ukrainian
had some advise for his rivals. "If Columbia is smart they will allow a break
to go. After yesterday, we are all very tired and we have a few hard days to
Well, this is what happened, but the first hour of racing
was tough, and now, the weather doesn't make this stage particularly enjoyable,
15:04 CEST 81.5km/91km to go
The chasing trio
is now within eyesight of Lefèvre, who eased up a bit. Only 30 seconds between
15:09 CEST 83.5km/89km to go
That's it, they
are four riders in front now. The bunch is just over five minutes behind.
AG2R's Riblon crossed the intermediate
sprint line in first position, bit there was no sprint contested. The four will
now get organised for the second part of the race, hoping to take their advantage
to the finish.
But Team Columbia will have its say with regards to
that one... the gap is already shrinking to 4'25 now.
By the way, Cyclingnews Tech
editor James Huang was airdropped into France yesterday, so expect some excellent
reviews of Tour de France bikes, parts and accessories soon to come!
Bah. It's wet out there. It's not
raining at the moment, but puddles are left on the road and the riders are definitely
better off leaving their rain coats on.
Still, the masses are out
there to cheer the riders on. Umbrella or not.
The four escapists
are passing through the feed zone in Blaye-Les-Mines and get some food.
15:21 CEST 91.5km/81km to go
The gap is stable
around 4'30 at the moment.
The bunch gets their food bags now.
They ride really slow to avoid any crashes on the slippery road. Munching away
now, musettes flying...
15:30 CEST 97.5km/75km to go
The gap increased
a little due to the lunch break. But we're sure it'll come down again soon,
as Columbia riders are still putting on the pace at the front of the bunch.
They will protect their yellow jersey today, as well as being interested in
a bunch sprint finish for Mark Cavendish.
Bjarne Riis also talked to Cyclingnews
at the start today. "It was an excellent first week for us. Everybody expected
a lot from Fabian [Cancellara] in the time trial. But it doesn't matter now.
We are here today!
"Yesterday was a good day, even if we missed three
guys in the front group. It was the moment to go to the front and ride and put
some pressure on the peloton."
Riis answered to the voiced criticism
by some about taking advantage of Cunego's crash. "The attack had nothing to
do with Cunego's crash. We did not go to the front because of that. That was
Columbia. We just followed them. Jens [Voigt] was in the break. When he was
caught, I looked at the situation."
Riis was relaxed about today.
"We expect a calm day, nothing crazy. Tomorrow and the next day will be hard."
15:39 CEST 103.5km/69km to go
After having passed
the green forest hills of the Aveyron département, the riders are now in the
region of the Tarn. Still, some villages throne on hilltops, but it should soon
get flatter on the way to Toulouse.
The break is working well together.
The gap is still up to 5'20.
Bernhard Eisel is taking a looong
turn at the front as they pass through the French countryside, wheat and sunflower
fields on each side. Unfortunately, the sky is grey!
Riblon has a problem with his back
wheel. He takes it off himself as his mechanic rushes up to him. He's back on
his bike now, while the mechanic just arranges his brakes out of the team car.
The bunch is sitting up as many riders
stop to water the flowers...
Riblon is back with his breakaway
companions. French TV reports that he had a tubular on his back wheel, with
which he felt uncomfortable on the slippery descents. He now changed for a clincher.
15:57 CEST 115.5km/57km to go
Team Columbia now
gets some assistance from Crédit Agricole in the chase. Three team-mates of
Thor Hushovd have started to bring down the gap again to under five minutes.
They'd better, if they don't want to miss out on their chances today!
Simon Gerrans takes a turn now in front of George Hincapie.
The Chateau de Mauriac is close by
the route. It was built in the 13th century and entirely restored. It peaks
over a vineyard...
The gap is coming down fast now as
the leaders pass through Gaillac. Only four minutes with 54 kms to go. Rabobank
joined the chase.
We also spot a Liquigas rider at
the front of the bunch now. Sure working towards a bunch sprint. Another chance
for Mark Cavendish? Or will Robbie McEwen have his say this time? What about
Oscar Freire and Erik Zabel? Thor Hushovd?
16:08 CEST 121.5km/51km to go
Crash in the back
of the bunch! Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval) went down, so did Jens Voigt (CSC)
and a Columbia rider, we believe it is Ciolek.
All are up and riding
again, though. Ricco complains of pain in his right hip and holds on to his
Ricco chases back to the peloton
now, getting out of the saddle. A team-mate waits for him. It's Bertogliati.
The leader's advantage has shrunk
to 2'20 with 47 kilometres to the finish. The bunch is strung out. Ricco grimaces
It seems the bunch will reel in the
break faster than expected!! Ricco chases at 1'16 behind the bunch, led out
by Crédit Agricole. Saunier Duval sends more team-mates to the "Cobra"'s rescue.
Ricco has three team-mates with him
now. They are 45 seconds back of the bunch, which is less than a minute behind
They're not waiting for Ricco... he's not very popular
within the peloton.
16:18 CEST 129.5km/43km to go
The Group around
Ricco is in the team car caravan now. They'll make it back. But Ricco is slightly
The pace eases up a bit now as the
bunch is within one minute of the leaders. They'll hold it there for a while
if they're wise, as there are two hills yet to come before Toulouse - one around
20 kilometres before the line, and another one about 12 clicks away from the
16:30 CEST 136.5km/36km to go
We're afraid we
have to announce that it's still pretty wet out there, with intermittent rain
showers coming down on the riders. The chances of the leaders to make it to
the finish look pretty slim now, as the bunch is set to make it a sprint today.
16:32 CEST 139.5km/33km to go
Ricco is beside
the race doctor's car as the first counter-attacks go off the front of the pack.
It's Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) and Freddy Bichot (Agritubel) who try to get away.
16:36 CEST 142.5km/30km to go
Terpstra is the
next to go, after Augé and Bichot have been caught.
16:40 CEST 146.5km/26km to go
They will soon
hit the first of the two small climbs left before the finish. The bunch is allowing
the break some more seconds, while Terpstra is struggling in between.
The wind seems to have picked up a bit, too.
Ricco seems to be in pain. He holds
on bravely, though. Liquigas controls the pace now. The leaders have 45 seconds,
with Terpstra 18 seconds back.
They ride on a long, straight road.
Terpstra sits up and gets swallowed by the bunch. Nice try.
Simon Gerrans (Crédit Agricole) is
back at the front of the pack, followed by a team-mate and five Liquigas riders.
The break hits the climb now.
Riders get out of the saddle as the
road rises. But the pace is still high enough to prevent any further counter-attacks.
If only it could be a little less wet!
The climb's definitely rolling, not
much of a difficulty at all. Two Milram riders now also come up to help Liquigas
and Columbia in the chase.
16:50 CEST 152.5km/20km to go
The Bouygues riders
in the front are still working away. the wind and light drizzle don't make this
any more enjoyable. 40 seconds left between the two groups.
Leonard Duque of Cofidis had a mechanical.
He got a new front wheel from a team-mate and now chases back.
Robbie McEwen complained about the
route to Cyclingnews' John Trevorrow before the stage. "This has been
the most sprinter-unfriendly Tour I've ridden. It's the 11th one and I've never
done a Tour where we've had so few sprints. We're already up into the middle
mountains and we've only had one stage the sprinters have been able to take
out. We can only hope that we sprinters get a couple more chances ... like today,
for instance. On paper it looks like it gets through the early hills and it
should be a sprint finish. But that's not likely to happen. If it's anything
like the Tour's been so far it'll be on from the get go and with the first 100km
being really hard.
"Actually, there'll be breakaways for sure and
as soon as one gets up the road, with the right mix if it doesn't include a
GC contender, then I reckon it'll stay away – unless teams like Gerolsteiner,
Quick Step and Crédit Agricole are prepared to pull them back. And even
then, there are a couple of climbs right near the end that are unclassified
but are actually quite hard."
The next climb looks a bit steeper
on paper. The gap is still 48 seconds, while Liquigas does the most of the work
in the peloton. It's getting strung out now!
16:58 CEST 158.5km/14km to go
Some riders fall
off the back of the bunch, as the chase is on... In the front, Txurruka and
Pineau try to jump away as they hit the last climb before the finish.
This hurts, after so many kilometres
in front under such uncomfortable weather conditions. But Pineau and Txurruka
manage to get away.
Columbia's Alan Peiper gave John
Trevorrow insight on the pre-race tactics. "For us it's going to be important
to keep the race under control. That doesn't mean to take control of the race.
We won't mind a group getting away as long as it's got the right mix and we'll
just keep it within reason. It's then going to be up to the sprinters' teams
to take control in the last part if they want to win a stage."
was not concerned so much about Columbia contesting the sprint. "Even though
we've got two in-house sprinters we've already won our stage and we've got yellow
so it's really up to the others. The most important thing for us is to keep
the yellow jersey."
17:03 CEST 162.5km/10km to go
Liquigas is still
trying hard to come back, but the gap has been stable around 43 seconds for
a while now. Will it really come down to a sprint? Riblon and Lefèvre are caught.
Columbia and Quick Step take over
for Liquigas. Maybe that'll help.
17:06 CEST 164.5km/8km to go
Pineau and Txurruka
are giving it their all. The wet roads make it a risky business here in Toulouse
today. Let's hope everybody makes it safe into the finish.
17:07 CEST 165.5km/7km to go
30 seconds left
for the leaders. Crédit Agricole gives it a dig, with Milram participating,
Things look tough, with riders trying
to get into position and taking a lot of risks. The road is still very wet with
17:09 CEST 167.5km/5km to go
Less than 15 seconds
with 5 kilometres to go. Big roundabouts divide the bunch.
The lead duo is almost caught. They
don't sit up, though!
17:11 CEST 168.5km/4km to go
That's it - the
break is over. Rain is pouring down. What a pace the bunch is putting on now!
Columbia leads out. Lövkvist works
Zabel sits in seventh position or
so. Other riders come up from the sides. McEwen!
Quick Step's Rosseler takes over
in front. Freire is on the left, in fifth position. They pass the flamme rouge.
Casper is in third, Freire in fourth
position. Steegmans leads, Freire in his wheel.
Cavendish comes up from the left
with a team-mate - Ciolek? And Cav takes it!!
Yes, it's Ciolek taking second. Freire
What a finish. Fortunately there
were no crashes. Columbia took another great victory, with McEwen losing out
again. It seems too fast for the Australian as the Columbia train performs really
Thanks for having joined us again
today, and we sure hope to have you back with us tomorrow, when the GC riders
will be center-stage. Until then, revoir et
Back to top