Like a piece of theatre, stages through the Pyrenees tend to follow a three-act structure. The first being the race for the breakaway, the second a subplot of attrition as our players come to the fore, and the third a climax and resolution of the day’s action. As the curtain fell on stage eight it was a Frenchman, who came away with the adulation of the home crowd.
Tour Report Stage 8
Cazères to Loudenvielle
This was also the tale of two races as a large early breakaway went up the road and quickly created a gap that would not be closed.
The second act was a war of attrition up the Port de Balès in both the breakaway and the peloton. Still carrying the legacy of his Nice crash, Groupama - FDJ’s leader Thibaut Pinot became the first GC victim when he was spat out the back of the peloton by Team Jumbo Visma’s relentless tempo.
But as one Frenchman floundered, another flourished. AG2R La Mondiale rider Nans Peters distanced the gingerly descending Ilnur Zakarin and held the gap all the way to the line in Loudenvielle.
The final act on the Col de Peyresourde saw a flurry of attacks from Slovenian Tadej Pogačar, keen to make up for the losses he incurred in the wind. The real drama occurred when Julian Alaphilippe half attacked and then was dropped thanks in part to his own effort. Adam Yates also fell away from the main group, but the yellow maillot rode a canny climb and soon bridged back.
Team Bahrain McLaren were more comfortable in the mountainous territory. Mikel Landa danced away from the favourites group with Richie Porte sending a message to his rivals that he has come with his best climbing legs. The race enters his native Basque Country tomorrow so he may well be inspired by the roadside support to flex his muscles once again.