Tour de France 2017: Lilian Calmejane solos to stage eight win

Young Frenchman claims victory as Chris Froome survives first mountain test in yellow jersey

Young Frenchman Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) soloed to victory on stage eight of the 2017 Tour de France as Chris Froome (Team Sky) came through his first mountain test as race leader unscathed.

Calmejane, a Vuelta a Espana stage winner last year, added a Tour de France stage win to his palmares after attacking from what remained of the breakaway on the Montee de la Combe de Laisia les Molunes.

He fought off cramp with 5km still to ride, to hold off the chase of Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) behind and claim his seventh victory of the season.

After a frantic pace early in the day, meanwhile, Froome – a brief off-road excursion on a descent aside – retained his 12-second lead over team-mate Geraint Thomas with his rivals unable to make serious inroads.

Lilian Calmejane soloed to victory on stage eight of the 2017 Tour de France (pic: Sirotti)

Attacks were plentiful from the flag but no breakaway had managed to go clear by the intermediate sprint at 45.5km, paving the way for Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) to beat Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) and Marcel Kittel (QuickStep Floors) to the maximum 20 points.

Of the leading green jersey contenders, Arnaud Demare (FDJ) was not involved, however, dropped already and in for a long, long day in the saddle due to illness.

After the sprint, the stage opened up a bit though another breakaway failed to gain traction until a 46-strong group – with all teams represented – charged clear, with a three-minute lead at 80km.

Emanuel Buchman was the best-placed overall of all the riders in the group, the white jersey contender becoming virtual leader as a splinter group of 13 – and then 16 – took charge at the front.

Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) and Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) were clear on the Col de la Joux, but riders bridged across again to make an eight-man leading group, with all the GC contenders together in the peloton.

Barguil was first across the Cote de Viry, while in the peloton Chris Froome (Team Sky) had to fight to stay upright as he and Geraint Thomas overshot on a descent – the Welshman crashing, and the yellow jersey having to go off-road.

On the Montee de la Combe de Laisia les Molunes – the day’s final climb – Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing), Pauwels, Gesink and Calmejane led the way on the lower slopes.

The peloton was at 1’20”, with Team Sky in charge and the GC contenders together, before Calmejane accelerated in a bid to rid himself of his three companions.

The young Frenchman crested the summit of the climb with a 25-second lead over Gesink, while the Sky-led peloton remained 90 seconds back.

His charge for victory briefly threatened to be derailed as he rode under the 5km-to-go kit, fighting off cramp as the French fans urged him on.

Chris Froome retained his overall lead, with no change to the GC top 10 (pic: Sirotti)

But he recovered well to keep Gesink at bay, whipping up the crowds as he soloed down the finishing straight towards his second Grand Tour stage win.

In the peloton, a brief flurry of action on the run-in to the finish failed to make any inroads, with all the GC men finishing together.

It means Froome keeps yellow, but stage nine will prove a much more testing stage with three hors categorie climbs to negotiate.

Tour de France 2017: stage eight – result

1) Lilian Calmejane (FRA) – Direct Energie – 4.30.29hrs
2) Robert Gesink (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo +37″
3) Guillaume Martin (FRA) – Wanty-Groupe Gobert +50″
4) Nicolas Roche (IRL) – BMC Racing – ST
5) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) – Orica-Scott
6) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana
7) Michael Vagren (DEN) – Astana
8) Rafal Majka (POL) – Bora-hansgrohe
9) Nate Brown (USA) – Cannondale-Drapac
10) Romain Hardy (FRA) – Fortuneo-Oscaro

General classification

1) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky – 33.19.10hrs
2) Geraint Thomas (GBR) – Team Sky +12″
3) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +14″
4) Daniel Martin (IRL) – QuickStep Floors +25″
5) Richie Porte (AUS) – BMC Racing +39″
6) Simon Yates (GBR) – Orica-Scott +43″
7) Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +47″
8) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Trek-Segafredo +52″
9) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +54″
10) Rafal Majka (POL) – Bora-hansgrohe +1.01

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