Tour de France 2019: Thomas De Gendt in impressive stage eight victory as collision hampers Geraint Thomas' performance

Thomas de Gendt: Belgian cyclist celebrates his stage eight victory at the 2019 Tour de France
Thomas de Gendt: Belgian cyclist celebrates his stage eight victory at the 2019 Tour de France

Thomas De Gendt soloed to victory on stage eight of the Tour de France in Saint Etienne as Julian Alaphilippe regained the yellow jersey and Geraint Thomas survived a dramatic crash which snapped a team-mate's bike in half.

Lotto-Soudal's Thomas De Gendt was the last survivor of a four-man breakaway on the 230km stage from Macon, and had the power to hold off a late attack from Deceuninck-Quick Step's Alaphilippe and Thibaut Pinot of Groupama-FDJ.

Late in the stage the Team Ineos train was derailed in frightening fashion on a downhill bend, though Thomas was quickly back on his way and caught the peloton on the last of the day's seven categorised climbs.

Though Alaphilippe and Pinot could not catch De Gendt, crossing the line some six seconds later, third place on the day was enough for Alaphilippe to take yellow back from Trek-Segafredo's Giulio Ciccone.

Pinot, meanwhile picked up 28 seconds on his general classification rivals to become the best placed of the main contenders.

Alaphilippe now leads by 23 seconds from Ciccone with Pinot third, 53 seconds down.

Jumbo-Visma's George Bennett retains fourth place, 70 seconds off the pace, with Thomas' deficit in fifth now 72 seconds.

De Gendt, a noted breakaway specialist, delivered his second career Tour stage win in some style.

The Belgian got away early along with Total Direct Energie's Niki Terpstra, Dimension Data's Ben King and CCC's Alessandro De Marchi early on.

He moved clear with De Marchi on the Croix de Part, and then went solo alone with 14km.

Alaphilippe and Pinot launched their move on the final climb but could not reel him in.

Ineos were felled when EF Education First's Michael Woods fell in front of them.

Despite the dramatic pictures, Thomas said he was unscathed.

"I was fine, straight back up and into the group," said the Welshman, who was paced back to the group by Wout Poels as the rest of the Ineos team dusted themselves off.

"It was hard for sure," Thomas said of the effort. It was OK getting to the group but then we had to move up and guys were getting dropped over the top.

"You have to close that gap so for sure it was a big effort. But it's one encouraging sign I guess that I was able to do that."


Tour de France: Stage-by-stage guide

July 14, Stage 9: St Etienne to Briourde (170.5km)

A stage that finishes in Romain Bardet's home town is not really difficult enough for the great French hope to take victory, but how the locals would love to see the 28-year-old end Bastille Day in yellow with his family watching on. As for the stage, expect a big breakaway, full of Frenchmen, attack each other on the final climb which peaks 13 kilometres from the line.

July 15, Stage 10: Saint-Flour to Albi (217.5km)

The peloton must wait until Tuesday for their first rest day but as they climb on their bikes one more time, riders will be grateful most of the second half of this stage is essentially downhill. The sprint teams will hope for a straightforward day.

July 17, Stage 11: Albi to Toulouse (167km)

The last time a Tour stage finished in Toulouse, back in 2008, a young debutant by the name of Mark Cavendish took victory. After two tough years of illness, injury and misfortune the Manxman could certainly use a repeat 11 years on. With the mountains looming, it will be the sprinters' last chance for a while.

July 18, Stage 12: Toulouse to Bagneres-de-Bigorre (209.5km)

And so to the Pyrenees, though stage 12 is just a warm-up. Two category one climbs, the Peyresourde and the Hourquette d'Ancizan, provide the focus before a long descent into Bagneres-de-Bigorre where Ireland's Dan Martin took his first stage win in 2013.

July 19, Stage 13: Pau to Pau (27.2 time trial)

The only individual time trial of this year's Tour will be a test of strength over a rolling course, but also a test of the head. Go too deep and riders will surely be burned on the mountain tests to come over the weekend. The eventual winner of the Tour has finished in the top four of every long time trial since 2011 but this time they may prefer to save their legs.

July 20, Stage 14: Tarbes to Tourmalet Bareges (117.5km)

The first of the five HC climbs comes on stage 14 - a short, sharp 117.5km race to the summit of the storied Tourmalet. The highest surfaced climb in the Pyrenees has featured in the Tour 87 times but this will be only the second stage finish at the summit.

July 21, Stage 15: Limoux to Foix Prat d'Albis (185.5km)

The second summit finish in a row comes on a more traditional Pyrenean stage, which rolls over several testing climbs, sapping the legs and the minds. However, there is no tradition to the finish with the Prat d'Albis making its Tour debut.

July 23, Stage 16: Nimes to Nimes (177km)

After the second rest day comes a pretty flat stage, though with constant changes of direction on a loop starting and finishing in Nimes, the sprinters' plans could be disrupted if the Mistral wind blows.

July 24, Stage 17: Pont du Gard to Gap (200km)

And so towards the Alps, though stage 17 features none of the big passes on a day of gradual climbing up to Gap. This is the stage in the race where breaks are often allowed to stay clear as the battle for yellow rages behind, but this day has been made to be utterly unpredictable. A punchy final climb of the Col de la Sentinelle could be a springboard, while it's not inconceivable some of the sprinters survive in the main group.

July 25, Stage 18: Embrue to Valloire (208km)

There may only be five HC climbs in the entire Tour, but two of them come in a single day as the riders tackle the Izoard and the Galibier before dropping down to the finish in Valloire. The stage winner should come from whichever group first crests the Galibier - appearing for the 60th time as the Tour's most regular Alpine venue - and this could be a decisive day overall.

July 26, Stage 19: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Tignes (126.5km)

Stage 19 is a leg-sapping day designed to test the resolve of anyone planning a late move in the general classification. The Iseran - at 2,770m the high point of the Tour - comes in the middle of the stage and casts a long shadow before the shorter climb to Tignes offers an opportunity for attacks.

July 27, Stage 20: Albertville to Val Thorens (130km)

The last chance saloon for GC hopefuls does not look an inviting one. The final climb of the Tour is the 33.4km HC slog up to Val Thorens. If ever there was a Tour designed for a true climber, one with only a handful of time trial kilometres and four HC climbs in the last three days could be it.

July 28, Stage 21: Rambouillet to Paris Champs-Elysees (128km)

There are two big questions on the final day. Will the yellow jersey winner choose a few glasses of champagne or, as Geraint Thomas did last year, prefer a beer or two as they celebrate along the roads of the Parisian suburbs? And which sprinters will have survived the mountains in order to battle it out on the Champs-Elysees?

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