Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) won the first Tour de France stage of his career today, after claiming a mountainous stage 8 in Station des Rousses.
The French rider attacked from a large breakaway during the last 7 kilometers to seize a solo victory more than half a minute ahead of his closest rival Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), who gave chase but could not manage to close the gap.
Meanwhile, Guillaume Martin (Wanty Groupe-Gobert) led the peloton home almost a minute behind Calmejane.
The day began in relentless style, with constant attacking and counterattacking and 48 kilometers covered in the first hour. Countless riders tried to get away, but they all failed, before a huge and power-packed 46-man breakaway forged ahead.
That large group became a 16-rider selection, which then reduced to eight: Nicolas Roche and Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) were there with Jan Bakelants (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Michael Valgren (Astana Pro Team), Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb), Serge Pauwels (Team Dimension Data), Gesink and Calmejane.
Pauwels and Roche went off the front, while back down the road there was a scare for race leader Froome as he went off-road after misjudging a corner.
Calmejane bridged across to the two leaders and then made his move – and despite that late scare with cramp, he claimed a superb stage victory for Direct Energie.
Meanwhile, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas remain atop the standings, separated by 12 seconds, with Fabio Aru (Astana) in third at 14 seconds back.
Top 10 – Stage 8
1. Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct Energie 4h30’29”
2. Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo +37″
3. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty – Groupe Gobert +50″
4. Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team
5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) ORICA-SCOTT
6. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team
7. Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Astana Pro Team
8. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Nathan Brown (USA) Cannondale-Drapac
10. Romain Hardy (Fra) Team Fortuneo – Oscaro
Top 10 GC after Stage 8
1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 33h19’10”
2. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky +12″
3. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team +14″
4. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors +25″
5. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team +39″
6. Simon Yates (GBr) ORICA-SCOTT +43″
7. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale +47″
8. Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo +52″
9. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team +54″
10. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe +1:01″
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