106th Tour de France 2019 - Stage 8
106th Tour de France 2019 - Stage 8

‘It hurt so much’: Tdf crash rocks champion

The defending champion crashed, a bike snapped in half and a Frenchman will be in yellow on Bastille Day after the most explosive day of this Tour de France.

Thomas De Gendt's masterful breakaway victory was the full stop on a memorably chaotic afternoon on the rollercoaster roads to Saint-Etienne that blew the peloton to smithereens.

 

 

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On a 200km stage that featured seven categorised ascents and nearly 4000m of climbing, riders finished in dribs and drabs behind a 35-man peloton - some still coming home nearly half an hour later.

Aussie Richie Porte, who finished safely alongside the main contenders, said it was harder than the daunting Stage 6 summit finish on La Planche des Belles Filles.

Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe snatched back the yellow jersey when his acceleration on the final climb saw only Thibaut Pinot able to follow - the pair finishing six seconds behind De Gendt.

 

Thomas De Gendt celebrates his incredible stage win. Picture: Getty
Thomas De Gendt celebrates his incredible stage win. Picture: Getty

 

De Gendt's incredible victory came after he was part of the original breakaway group of four before outlasting his fellow escapees, a charging peloton and then Alaphilippe and Pinot in the frantic closing stages.

"I had a really good feeling all day so I believed in it all day, but we only got five minutes (lead) and it went down really quick to three and a half," De Gendt said.

"We almost crashed in a few corners because we were taking some risks. From 70km to go I started believing in a possible victory. But still it hurts - it hurt so much."

The long day's simmering tension erupted with 15km to go when Canadian Michael Woods (EF Education First) lost control on a tight right hand corner and took out a batch of Team Ineos riders hot on his wheel.

Defending champ Geraint Thomas was among those to hit the deck, while his teammate Gianni Moscon had his bike break in half and, bizarrely, Michal Kwiatkoski saw his taken by a policeman.

"Gianni hit the deck first with G (Geraint Thomas). G's bike was fine and I just put the chain back on and let him ride," Kwiatkowski explained.

Gianni Moscon’s bike snapped in two. Picture: Getty
Gianni Moscon’s bike snapped in two. Picture: Getty

"I was trying to catch my bike because one policeman took my bike away so it was very difficult to get back on the bike. I was trying to catch the group again in case there was another mechanical or a fall.

"My bike was looking like it was destroyed, but it was fine. It wasn't easy to get out of it."

Uninjured, Thomas remounted and with the help of several teammates, was able to bridge across to the peloton and eventually finish 10th.

"I'm fine, but it's just frustrating - obviously it was a key moment in the race," Thomas said.

"It's annoying, but at the same time, to come back like I did shows I had good legs. You just don't want to give any unnecessary time away.

 

Gianni Moscon’s broken bike. Picture: Getty
Gianni Moscon’s broken bike. Picture: Getty

 

"The worst thing was that Pinot got time."

Behind De Gendt, Pinot and Alaphilippe, Michael Matthews won the best-of-the-rest sprint for more validation he is doing a lot right.

"My sprint is there. I know it's there. It's just unfortunate I can't get into free wind in the bunch sprints," Matthews said.

"It is difficult, but I love it. When that stage (win) does come it will be so much more appreciated."

There's no let up on Sunday - France's national day - with Stage 9 presenting an equally relentless 170.5km of rolling terrain.

News Corp Australia


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