SAN DIEGO, July 11, 2015 – In the home of the world’s greatest cycling race and one of the world’s most important sporting events, a stage win at the Tour de France means more in France than for any other nation.
Thanks to a strong final climb up the top of Mûr de Bretagne to the finish, Alexis Vuillermoz of French team AG2R-La Mondiale delivered the first French stage victory of the 2015 Tour. It came exactly one year after countryman and teammate Biel Kadri won on Stage 8 in 2014. Vuillermoz, a former mountain biker, claimed his first stage victory at the Tour at age 27.
Vuillermoz caught Tour leader Chris Froome of Team Sky and others in the final lead group by surprise with his attack. Dan Martin of Cannondale-Garmin tried to catch Vuillermoz but couldn’t do it. Twenty-five riders from the leading group crossed together in third, including Froome, American Tejay Van Garderen, Alberto Contador, Rigoberto Uran and Peter Sagan of Tinkoff-Saxo, Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde of Movistar, and Tony Gallopin of Lotto-Soudal.
Vincenzo Nibali lost time when he was unable to keep up at the end of the stage. It was only ten seconds. The loss is more psychological. Was it simply a bad day for the 2014 Tour champion, or is he struggling overall?
Local Breton team Bretagne-Séché Environnement attacked from the start of Stage 8 in their home region, eventually turning into a four-man breakaway including three French riders, Sylvain Chavanel of IAM Cycling, Romain Sicard of Europcar, and Pierre-Luc Périchon of Bretagne-Séché Environnement along with Bartosz Huzarski of Bora-Argon 18. At one point they lead by 3:55, but as with most breakways they were pulled back in the last stretch. The group received an enthusiastic response along the route from huge crowds waving Breton flags.
Froome’s strong ride kept him in the yellow jersey. Peter Sagan wears the green jersey as the best sprinter and keeps the white jersey as the best young rider thanks to a very strong performance Saturday. Daniel Teklehaimanot of MTN-Qhubeka keeps the King of the Mountains jersey.
Stage 9 is the last stage before a rest day. It is the team time trial, a 17.4 mile stage with several rolling hills that will put all riders to the test. In the time trial, five of the team’s nine cyclists must cross the line together. This is more difficult for teams who have lost riders to injury or abandoned the race. Orica-Greenedge is down to six riders, which makes the team time trial all the more challenging.
Expect BMC Racing and Sky Racing to go mano a mano on Sunday as they try to gain time for their overall contenders Tejay Van Garderen and Chris Froome. BMC Racing has four world champions on their squad and should be in the driver’s seat for Sunday’s time trial. Astana will be in hot pursuit and Tinkoff-Saxo needs to ride strong to stay in the mix. No reason not to give it all, as a welcome rest day is coming on Monday.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Follow the Tour de France daily in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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