CyclingRevealed's First Impressions '08
Stage 8 - (Saturday) July 12th, Figeac to Toulouse, 172.5 km Flat Stage
Travelling from the Massif Central region towards tomorrow's appointment with the Pyrenees Mountains today is generally regarded as a transition stage. The stage is listed as a “Flat Stage”, however passing over the Lot, Aveyron, Viaur, Ceret and Tarn valleys during the first 120 km this is by no means an easy route. Two Category 4 and two Category 3 climbs punctuate the journey through the valleys.
A solid break could steal the day as the GC contenders harbor their resources for the serious stuff coming tomorrow.
Spirited Early Racing
Numerous early breakaway attempts were controlled through the first half of the stage. At the 89 km marks of the stage four riders managed to escape the clutches of the race leader and the sprinter's teams. Laurent Lefèvre and Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom), Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel), Christophe Riblon (AG2R) opened a 5'20” lead before Crédit Agricole started the hard chase for the Green Jersey contender Thor Hushovd. At 49 km to go the lead was falling quickly and stood at 2'40”.
The sprinters would not be denied their final chance for a stage win before the brutal Pyrenees Mountains. Bravely the four rider breakaway held off the charging peloton until 15 km to go. The capture of the breakaway set-up the anticipation of another wild sprint. The teams that wanted a stage win began fighting for position on the front.
Supreme Lead-out Train
The wet roads made the lead-out process more dangerous. Not for the faint of heart, a narrow right-hand turn just before the “ Flamme Rouge ” will be critical. Staying at the front was very important given the technical turns on the final run-in to Toulouse .
Team Columbia, a major force in this year's Tour, took control at the 5 km banner. Mark Cavendish and the Yellow Jersey of Kim Kirchen held perfect spots in the single line of riders. Behind the top sprinters jockeyed for position.
From 5th position in Team Columbia's Cavendish turned on the rockets and blew past everyone to claim his second stage win. Team-mate and final lead-out man Gerald Ciolek didn't waste the supreme work done by the lead-out train and finished second.
Stage winner Mark Cavendish [ Image ©: www.gazzetta.it/AFP ]
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