Thibaut Pinot won the eighth stage of cycling’s Tour de France after taking the lead on yesterday’s final climb. Bradley Wiggins retained the race leader’s yellow jersey.
The 22-year-old Pinot, the youngest rider in the Tour, finished the 157.5-kilometer (97.9-mile) route from Belfort to Porrentruy 26 seconds ahead of a group including Britain’s Wiggins and defending champion Cadel Evans.
It was the first victory by a Frenchman in this year’s Tour, the 99th edition of the race. The FDJ-BigMat rider moved into the lead from Astana’s Fredrik Kessiakoff on the category one Col de la Croix about 16 kilometers from the finish.
Team Sky’s Wiggins, the bookmakers’ race favorite, took the yellow jersey from Fabian Cancellara of the RadioShack Team two days ago.
Wiggins finished as part of a small group of riders yesterday, maintaining a 10-second overall lead from Evans of BMC Racing, with Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas-Cannondale a further six seconds back. Team Sky’s Christopher Froome, stage winner on July 7, was also in the group and climbs to sixth overall.
Nibali attacked on the descent of the Col de la Croix but Wiggins responded and didn’t lose any time to the Italian. He also saw off a challenge from Evans.
“I’m not surprised at anything in this Tour, you can’t underestimate or try to predict anything,” Wiggins told reporters. “It was enjoyable, just like being in a junior race with everybody attacking. Cadel is Cadel, and again he was always going to attack. That’s what he does, but I felt good and was able to respond.”
Spain’s Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez of the Euskaltel team broke a collarbone in a crash, which may prevent him from defending the title later this month.
Today’s stage is an individual time trial, a 41.5-kilometer ride from Arc-et-Senans to Besancon.