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Roche slips to 9th as Tour contenders take flight

Posted 08 July 2012

Nicolas Roche shed over one minute on stage eight of the Tour de France but managed to hold onto a place in the top ten overall despite being unable to go with a decisive move by the race favourites over the top of the final climb of the day.
The short 157 kilometre stage from Belfort to Porrentruy was action packed from beginning to end with seven categorised climbs provinding a succession of attacks and counter-attacks.
It took more than 95 kilometres for a break to stick and the stage was still wide open as the race reached the final first category climb of the Col de la Croix with just over 18 kilometres to the finish.
Swiss rider Fredrick Kessiakoff (Astana) started the short 3.7 kilometre long but brutally steep ascent with 55 seconds over chasers Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), the youngest rider in the race, and Tony Gallopin (Radioshack-Nissan) while the peloton containing Roche languished at 3’15”.
All had changed by the summit with Pinot dropping Gallopin to overhaul Kessiakoff while Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) set a pace which brought a select group of race favourites including race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky) to within 1’59’ of the young Frenchman.
Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) battled to stay within 17 seconds at the summit as the Wiggins group ripped into the descent with those on board including Van den Broeck, Cadel Evans (BMC), Chris Froome (Sky), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale),  Denis Menchov (Katusha) and the Radioshack-Nissan quartet of Frank Schleck, Chris Horner, Haimar Zubeldia and Tony Gallopin.
Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) meanwhile was struggling further back on the mountain having lost contact with the peloton early in the climb.
The high speed descent was a thrilling affair with Nibali making continuous use of his superior descending skills to open gaps only to find Wiggins and Evans fully capable of responding.
Pinot meanwhile, was riding the race of his life with an exuberent team manager Marc Madiot providing all manner of encouragement for the team car as his young charge buried himself to maintain a slender lead of 40 seconds through the closing kilometres.
Van den Broeck and Evans attacked the chase group inside the final 2.5 kilometres where Wiggins showed remarkable composure, taking it upon himself to bridge the gap each time.
By the finish Pinot succeeed in celebrating victory by just 26 seconds as Evans took second ahead of Gallopin.
Roche’s deficit drifted to 1’25” by the time he led home a chase group of twelve riders although that performance was sufficient to hold ninth in the general classification despite his losses mounting to 2’21” overall.
Martin was 7’25” down by the time he reached the finish after another disappointing day in the mountains. He lies 69th overall over 27’17” behind Wiggins whose confidence grows with each passing stage.
Tour de France
Stage 8: Belfort - Porrentruy, 157.5 kilometers
1.  Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 3:56:10
2.  Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:26
3.  Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack-Nissan
4.  Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling
5.  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
6.  Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
7.  Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
8.  Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team
9.  Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan
10. Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:30
13. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 1 minutes, 25 seconds
64. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 7 minutes, 25 seconds
General classification after stage 7:
1.  Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 38:17:56
2.  Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:10
3.  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:16
4.  Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:00:54
5.  Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:59
6.  Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:01:32
7.  Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan 0:02:08
8.  Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:02:11
9.  Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:21
10.  Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:02:27
64. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 27 minutes, 17 seconds

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