Photo gallery: 2017 Tour de France, Stage 8
In his first Tour de France, 24-year-old Frenchman Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) took an impressive solo victory on Stage 8, distancing Dutchman Robert Gesink (Lotto NL-Jumbo) on the final 12 kilometer climb to Station des Rousses.
Despite a quadricep cramp with four kilometers to go, Calmejane crossed the line 37 seconds ahead of second place Gesink. Guillaume Martin of Wanty Groupe-Gobert took third, narrowly holding off the Sky-led peloton charging behind.
Saturday’s course from Dole to the ski resort of Station des Rousses featured three categorized climbs, the category 3 Col de la Joux at kilometer 102, the category 2 Côte de Viry at kilometer 139, and at the conclusion of the stage, the category 1 Côte de la Combe de Laisia-Les Molunes.
After the intermediate sprint in Montrond, the main selection was made. A group of 46 riders rolled clear and built their margin on the flats prior to the first categorized climb of the day – the Col de la Joux. Sixteen riders went clear from the group of 46 on the first climb. Over the summit, Warren Barguil (Sunweb) and Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) rolled clear from the breakaway of 16 with Barguil taking the full KOM points. But, despite their efforts to escape, the lead group of 46 reconvened and began to reshuffle on the descent off the Col de la Joux and into the second climb of the day, the Côte de Viry.
Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Jan Bakelants (AG2R) Pauwels, and Barguil finally rolled clear and instigated the final move on the descent off the Côte de Viry. They were joined by Nicholas Roche (BMC), Robert Gesink (Lotto NL-Jumbo), Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac), and Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) on the lead in to the category one Côte de la Combe de Laisia- Les Molunes – the final ascent of the day.
With six kilometers to the summit, there were four riders remaining. Calmejane sensed an ease in the pace, rose out of the saddle, and accelerated. With a grimace, he immediately distanced himself from the remaining three. Gesink, in true form, slowly pulled away from Pauwels and Roche, and the chase was on. Calmejane, taking KOM points over the summit of the Côte de la Combe de Laisia- Les Molunes, still had 12 kilometers of rolling terrain to the finish at Station des Rousses. Thirty seconds was his margin over Gesink, and he looked strong and steady until he faltered with a quadricep cramp at six kilometers out.
Calmejane was able to overcome the pain, however, and continued on ahead of Gesink for the win. Thrilled despite the physical suffering, he took his first Tour de France stage by 37 seconds as he fell off his bike upon crossing the line, legs disabled with cramps.