After a few days of lull in the weather, the peloton returned to rain and slippery asphalt on Saturday July 3 during the eighth stage of the Tour de France between Oyonnax (Ain) and Le Grand-Bornand (Haute- Savoy). His first test in the mountains since leaving Brest on June 26 also almost came to an end:
Fortunately, the situation quickly returned to order, because the stakes for this Saturday were double: we knew that it would be difficult for the Dutchman Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) to keep the yellow jersey for an additional day, and that the race of the day would therefore not be reduced to a stage victory.
If the Belgian Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) won in the Aravis, we will especially remember from this eighth stage the new show of force of Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates), who recovers the lead of the general classification, relegating his runner-up, the Belgian Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), at 1 min 48 s.
The Slovenian, winner of the 2020 edition, taking advantage of the incredible work of his teammate Davide Formolo, launches an attack 5 km from the top of the Col de Romme (1re cat.), 32 kilometers from the finish. Only Richard Carapaz (Ineos-Grenadiers) manages to follow him… Before another acceleration of “Tamau Pogi”. During his passage at the top of Romme, the Ecuadorian accused a disbursement of 1 min 7 s. He will finish 13e, at 4 min 9 s.
“After yesterday’s stage [250 km entre Vierzon et Le Creusot], we saw that everyone was running against us. Today, I wanted to create gaps, so I took the opportunity to win: attack is the best defense ”, will then explain Tadej Pogacar in a press conference.
We feared that this solitary effort, in the mountains, more than 30 kilometers from the finish, would be hard to keep up. Nay! Tadej Poagacar gradually swallowed the runners who had escaped after the hill of Menthonnex-en-Bornes (4e cat.), with insolent ease, climbing the col de la Colombière (1re cat.) without even wincing. The Slovenian could have won the stage, but he finally eased off and finished fourth 48s behind Dylan Teuns. The group of pursuers is 2 min 33 s behind.
Among them, the Frenchman Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R-Citroën), 7e at 3 min 3 s, will summarize: “Eighty kilometers to get out [en échappée], yet there were clusters but always a team that came back (…). The Romme-Colombière sequence was really tough. When I see Pogacar who caught up with me quite early and the gaps there are, I think it’s a crazy step. “
The hopes of Roglic and Thomas buried
In a Grande Boucle where the twists and turns were almost as numerous as the crashes, however, caution was in order: no longer a question of underestimating a potential rival. Wout van Aert paid the price.
This first alpine stage also finished burying the hopes of two of the announced favorites. The Welshman Geraint Thomas (Ineos-Grenadiers), relegated from the first third of the race to more than 4 minutes from the leading group, will not win his second Tour de France. The Slovenian Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), he will not take his revenge on Tadej Pogacar. Losing contact with the peloton at kilometer 30, he was able to benefit from the support of several riders – including the Dutchman Dylan van Baarle (Ineos-Grenadiers) who verbally encouraged him. The dolphin of the 2020 edition will hold a time with them. Then will be left behind again …
Seeing him raise his arms in yellow on July 18 on the Champs-Elysées in Paris is now a pipe dream. On the other hand, the possibility that he will abandon the Big Loop to focus on the Tokyo Olympics, which start on July 23, seems very real. Geraint Thomas and Primoz Roglic will finally cross the finish line at Le Grand-Bornand 35 minutes late – less than three minutes from the deadline.
On the Sunday program: Act II of the Alps, with 145 kilometers between Cluses (Haute-Savoie) and the finish in Tignes (Savoie), at an altitude of over 2,000 m. The players in the peloton may repeat over and over again that the Grande-Boucle is only played once in Paris, it is hard to imagine, this Saturday, which could upset the insolent domination of Tadej Pogacar. Among the other contenders for the overall standings, the Colombian Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-Nippo) was at 4:46, Richard Carapaz (Ineos-Grenadiers) at 5:01 and Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 5:13.
“There is still a long way to go, anything can happen. I’m very confident but I certainly didn’t kill the Tour today, sorry… ”, promises Tadej Pogacar after his new coup on Saturday. Dylan Teuns, the winner of the day, is less categorical: “Paris is still a long way off and we know how hard it is to get there, but you can clearly see the state of form in which it is. Everyone will fight until the last day, but I think Tadej can defend his jersey until the end. ”
Our selection of articles on the 2021 Tour de France