Vuillermoz shines on Tour stage eight, Froome leads

Sat Jul 11, 2015 12:44pm EDT
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By Julien Pretot

MUR DE BRETAGNE, France (Reuters) - Alexis Vuillermoz earned the French their first victory on this year's Tour de France, his final kick proving too hot to handle for the big guns in the eighth stage on Saturday.

The AG2r-La Mondiale rider attacked twice in the final climb, a brutal two-kilometer ascent at an average gradient of 6.9 percent, and countered overall leader Chris Froome less than one-km from the line.

The 27-year-old Vuillermoz beat Ireland's Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) by five seconds while Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was 10 seconds behind in third place after a 181.5-km ride from Rennes.

"I really wanted to go for the stage win today, it was all or nothing," Vuillermoz, a former mountain biker, told reporters.

Team Sky's Froome, the 2013 champion, still leads Slovakian Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) by 11 seconds and American Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) by 13 in the general classification.

"That was a tough climb, but my team mates did a great job in bringing me to the front, I was in the best position," said Briton Froome, who once he realized Vuillermoz was gone focused on keeping pace with his rivals.

Defending champion Vincenzo Nibali of Astana lost 10 seconds to the other members of the Big Four (Froome, Spain's Alberto Contador and Colombian Nairo Quintana).

"I was very surprised to hear that, especially with the cross headwind that made it easier to stay in the wheels," Froome told a news conference.   Continued...

AG2R La Mondiale rider Alexis Vuillermoz of France sprints to win the 181.5-km (112.7 miles) 8th stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Rennes to Mur-de-Bretagne, France, July 11, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard