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Tour de France

Tour de France stage 8 preview: Another one for the puncheurs

The day's battle will be between a breakaway and the climbing sprinters in the bunch.

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RONCHAMP, France (VN) — The 2022 Tour de France dips into Switzerland on Saturday for a stage ideal for any puncheurs fuming after Tadej Pogačar pipped them at the line Thursday.

The 186.3km eighth stage from Dole to a third-category climb finishing above the Olympic stadium in Lausanne should see another tug-of-war between attacking riders in breakaway attempts and the fast men in the bunch who can climb.

The stages swings around the edges of the Jura Mountains and takes in two fourth-category climbs and two third-category climbs.

Who will win? The day’s battle will be between a breakaway and the sprinters in the bunch. Last chance saloon for Mathieu van der Poel? Perhaps.

Green, climber’s jerseys could be a factor

Wout van Aert rides in over seven minutes down after stage 6 of the Tour de France
Wout van Aert rides in over seven minutes down after stage 6 of the Tour de France (Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images)

The stage’s mid-race points sprint comes at 46km, so riders challenging Wout van Aert for the green jersey might try to keep a lid on the action until having a clear shot at maximum points.

Van Aert already leads Fabio Jakobsen by 63 points, so Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl might try to deliver Jakobson to the mid-stage sprint to challenge the Belgian.

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The sprint already comes after rising unrated climb, so the peloton will likely fracture before that.

After there, there are a string of climbs that could see Lennard Kämna go on the march to challenge Magnus Cort for the polka-dot climber’s jersey.

Kämna suffered a heartbreak Friday at Belles Filles, but moved up in the mountain jersey competition.

Last chance for Van der Poel?

Van der Poel might not be long for the Tour. (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

Dutch superstar Van der Poel has been suffering in this Tour, but Saturday’s stage could be his best and last chance for a win. The short but explosive uphill finale is ideal for his style of racing.

But even he admits he’s not the same rider he was at the Giro, where he won the pink jersey in a similar finale as Saturday’s.

Plenty of teams will be trying to slot riders into a break in what would be the Tour’s first successful breakaway if the one-off cobblestone stage is not counted.

With another first-category climb looming Sunday in the French Alps, it’s highly unlikely the GC teams will mount any fuss if non-threatening riders go up the road. So that means it will be up to the likes of Alpecin-Deceuninck and BikeExchange-Jayco to mount the chase.

Unless, of course, they have their key riders up the road.

Tadej Pogacar celebrates after crossing the line Friday. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images))

Warm weather on the return

After nearly a week of relatively cool racing conditions, summer will make its return on Saturday. Temperatures are expected to climb into the low 80s by the afternoon, and there will be gusting winds from the northeast of up to 15kph.

Forecasts are calling a tailwind up 5-10kph, so it should be a fast finale.

What’s the history

Famous for its cheese and sausage, Dole hosts its fourth Tour stage. The city is the birth city of Louis Pasteur, and it was here that Pascal Lino saw his 10-day run in yellow wind down during the 1992 Tour. Miguel Indurain overtook him in the next day’s stage to Sestriere.

The site of the International Olympic Committee since 1915, Lausanne plays host to its sixth Tour stage.

What’s next: First big touch with the Alps

The 2022 Tour de France continues Sunday with the 192.2km ninth stage in what is the first major, multi-climb stage this year.

The stage starts in Aigle, the site of the UCI headquarters, and tackles three major climbs before dropping down to the valley. The route returns to France, and ends over the first-category Pas de Morgins before a fast descent to the line.

The peloton will enjoy its second of three rest days on Monday, and then reload for a return to the high French Alps for three consecutive summit finales capped by Alpe d’Huez on July 14, Bastille Day.