Vuillermoz climbs to victory ahead of a counter-attacking Martin and a charging, Valverde-led pack in stage 8 of the Tour de France

MÛR-DE-BRETAGNE, France (AFP) — Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r-La Mondiale) won stage 8 of the Tour de France on Saturday to become the first French rider to take a victory in this year’s race.

At the end of a 180.5km stage from Rennes, the 27-year-old former mountain biker escaped a select group in the final 800 meters of a challenging 2-kilometer climb to the finish at Mûr-de-Bretagne.

Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) timed a counter-attack a shade too late and came home second, five seconds behind Vuillermoz, with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) pipping Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) in the sprint finish for third at 10 seconds back. Chris Froome finished eighth, in the same group, and retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey ahead of Peter Sagan, who sits 11 seconds behind on the general classification. Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) is third overall at 13 seconds.

Top 10, stage 8

 

Top 10, GC

Vuillermoz paid tribute to his late father after the stage. “After winning I thought about my dad who died three years ago. He was the one who got me interested in the Tour de France, he used to take my cousins and I to the side of the road to watch the Tour go past,” said Vuillermoz.

“I hope today he’s proud of me.”

Reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) gave up a few seconds as he was dropped by the lead pack on the final climb, with its average gradient of 6.9 percent. While the time gaps were minimal, Nibali will be concerned that he was dropped just three days away from the first mountain summit finish at La Pierre-Saint Martin with an hors categorie climb measuring 15.3km at an average gradient of 7.4 percent.

Froome admitted it was a shock to hear Nibali had struggled.

“I was very surprised to hear that actually, especially given that up the final climb it was predominately into a headwind up there, which made it relatively easy to stay on the wheels,” he said.

“So I’m really surprised to hear that, especially with a relatively big group up front.”

Fellow GC contenders Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) stayed with the lead group, finishing 14th and 17th respectively, with the former 36 seconds down on Froome in the overall standings, and the latter at 1:56 back.

The Tour de France continues Sunday with a 28km team time trial from Vannes to Plumelec.

Stage 8 results

 

General classification

 

Stage 8 points

 

Points classification

 

Mountains classification

 

Best young rider

 

Teams classification