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Nans Peters won stage 8 of the Tour de France out of the breakaway on a challenging day in the Pyrenees that saw more than one yellow jersey hopeful drop out of GC contention altogether, and several other significant changes to the overall standings.
Thibaut Pinot, Julian Alaphilippe, and Tom Dumoulin were among the many stars tumbling down the overall standings on the day, with Pinot losing touch on the penultimate climb and Alaphilippe and Dumoulin dropped on the Col de Peyresourde. Tadej Pogacar, meanwhile, surged back up the GC standings with a late move, reclaiming much of the time he had lost on stage 7.
Peters claimed his second career Grand Tour stage victory 47 seconds ahead of runner-up Toms Skujins and third-placed Carlos Verona. Other survivors from the break trickled across the line after them until Pogacar was the first of the major yellow jersey hopefuls to arrive, six minutes behind Peters.
Romain Bardet finished 38 seconds later with a select group of Miguel Ángel López, Adam Yates, Egan Bernal, Mikel Landa, Guillaume Martin, Primoz Roglic, Nairo Quintana, Rigoberto Urán, and Richie Porte finishing just behind.
Yates remains in the overall race lead.
Peters, Skujins, Verona, and the rest of a breakaway totaling 13 riders jumped clear almost immediately after the start, with the peloton deciding quickly to let the yawn out to several minutes. It would grow out to around 13 minutes before stabilizing there or thereabouts for much of the stage.
The break made it up and over the Col de Mente with its advantage mostly intact, while the first-category climb proved to be the end of Giacomo Nizzolo’s Tour, as the European champ climbed into the team car midway up the ascent. The climb also saw Romain Bardet crash, but he was able to remount quickly and resume his day.
The breakaway kept most of its advantage intact on the run-in to the Port de Balès, where the action really started to heat up.
With Ilnur Zakarin pushing hard at the front, the break began to splinter. Before long it was just Zakarin and Peters alone out front as the rest of the escapees tried to keep the gap manageable. Meanwhile, back in a Jumbo-Visma-led peloton, Pinot suddenly cracked. Several teammates dropped back to help him, but the Frenchman rapidly lost time and within minutes it was clear that his Tour GC bid was over.
On the descent, Peters opened a gap over Zakarin that the Russian would not be able to fully close down going up and over the final climb, and there was no catching Peters from there, while Skujins and Verona would ultimately pass Zakarin.
Back in the yellow jersey group, the final climb saw plenty of drama as riders attacked and counter-attacked each other, with big names like Alaphilippe, Dumoulin, and Richard Carapaz losing touch with the leaders. Pogacar pulled away with a big dig partway up the climb, and despite the firepower in the group of GC riders chasing behind, he opened a sizable gap as he continued up the climb. He would ultimately gain 40 seconds back on the yellow jersey.
Carapaz would limit his losses to 38 seconds on the yellow jersey group. Dumoulin fared worse, shipping over two minutes to the Yates group, while Alaphilippe tumbled out of the GC picture altogether, losing over 12 minutes to yellow.
The GC riders will have another battle on their hands with another stage in the Pyrenees to come on Sunday before the first rest day on Monday.
Top 10, stage 8
1 PETERS Nans (AG2R La Mondiale) 4:02:12
2 SKUJINS Toms (Trek – Segafredo) 0:47
3 VERONA Carlos (Movistar Team)
4 ZAKARIN Ilnur (CCC Team) 1:09
5 POWLESS Neilson (EF Pro Cycling) 1:41
6 HERMANS Ben (Israel Start-Up Nation) 3:42
7 PACHER Quentin (B&B Hotels – Vital Concept p/b KTM)
8 KRAGH ANDERSEN Soren (Team Sunweb) 4:04
9 POGACAR Tadej (UAE-Team Emirates) 6:00
10 BARDET Romain (AG2R La Mondiale) 6:38
Top 10, GC
1 YATES Adam (Mitchelton-Scott) 34:44:52
2 ROGLIC Primoz (Team Jumbo-Visma) 0:03
3 MARTIN Guillaume (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits) 0:09
4 BARDET Romain (AG2R La Mondiale) 0:11
5 BERNAL Egan (INEOS Grenadiers) 0:13
6 QUINTANA Nairo (Team Arkéa Samsic)
7 LÓPEZ Miguel Ángel (Astana Pro Team)
8 URÁN Rigoberto (EF Pro Cycling)
9 POGACAR Tadej (UAE-Team Emirates) 0:48
10 MAS Enric (Movistar Team) 1:00