There was a strong reaction from the Peloton even as the trio continued to push. In the chase, 2nd in Green Jersey Classification, French champion Arnaud Démare(Equipe Cycliste FDJ) and Tim Wellens(Lotto Soudal Cycling Team Fanpage) were dropped. Soon there were 4 including Luke Rowe(Team Sky) and “Prince Harry” Mark Renshaw(Dimension Data).
Chavanel was in full attack mode attacking the non categorized climb to the belvédère du Fer à Cheval, in Serge Pauwels’(Dimension Data) company. They were soon joined by Kristjian Durasek (UAE Team Emirates).
The Peloton rode with purpose today, covering 40 kms in the 1st 50 minutes.
At 45.5k, at the intermediate sprint it was André Greipel(Lotto Soudal) who crossed the line 1st, followed by Michael Matthews(Team Sunweb) and Marcel Kittel (Quickstep-Floors).
At 50k, Mathias Frank (AG2R-La Mondiale), Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar Team), Marcus Burghardt (BORA-hansgrohe) and Cyril Lemoine (Team Cofidis) attacked.
With the Peloton not attacking, Lilian Calmejane(Direct Energie), the young Frenchman one of the favourites to win the stage, followed the front 4.
There were a lot of counterattacks with the peloton completely disintegrated. Diego Ulissi(UAE) moved to the front.
Very soon, there were 50 riders at the front even as the Demare-Rowe group fell back over 5 minutes.
With 100k to 13 out of the 50 moved to front. These riders were: Jan Bakelants and Mathias Frank (AG2R-La Mondiale), Koen de Kort (Trek-Segafredo), Michael Schär and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Michael Valgren (Astana), Jens Keukeleire (ORICA-SCOTT), Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Laurens Ten Dam(Sunweb), Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) and Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale-Drapac). Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors) and Warren Barguil (Sunweb) rejoined the escapees to make it a leading group of 16 riders with 98km to go. Yellow jersey peloton was at -3.40.
At this point, I stepped out to wash my bike staring at the TV Screen!
Buchman was just 1.29 adrift of Chris Froome(Team Sky) and so he was virtually in the yellow jersey.
Demare was sick but didn’t drop off. However he fell 15 kms behind the Peloton and ran the risk of missing the time cut-off. He was joined by his FDJ teammates, Mickaël Delage and Ignatas Konovalovas.
With 87km to go, about 40 riders were reunited in the 2nd group, one minute behind Barguil and Pauwels.
Pierre LaTour tried to attack and join the 1st group.
Warren Barguil was the 1st up the col de la Joux followed by Pauwels.
With 70k to go Jan Bakelants (AG2R-La Mondiale), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Warren Barguil and Michael Matthews (Sunweb) formed the 1st group.
Christian Knees(Team Sky) took command of the peloton reducing gap to 2:40 and 2.10 with 58k to go.
In the 2nd category Côte de Viry, Lilian Calmejane attacked with Andrew Talansky(Cannondale Drapac).
Barguil took the 2nd mountain of the day with Bakelants 2nd.
Jan Bakelants (AG2R-La Mondiale), Nicolas Roche and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), Warren Barguil (Sunweb), Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac), Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) formed the leading group with 45km to go.
While after returning from an Ad break, it showed in replays Chris Froome had gone off road in a downhill with Geraint Thomas. Thomas crashed but Froomey was safe. No damages happened as everyone was back safe in the pack.
The riders started to climb to la Combe de Laisia les Molunes. The last climb of the day was 12-km long first category climb!
Van Avermaet was the first of the nine leaders who started going in reverse gear. Simon Clarke was the second one and Jan Bakelants third. Six riders remained in the lead.
Lilian Calmejane went solo with 18km to go. Nicolas Roche tried to follow him.
But today, I watched with the hair standing on the back of my neck, Lilian Calmejane completely destroying the 8% climb at 20 kmph. The Peloton moved to 1:30 behind Calmejane. Robert Gesink was 39 seconds behind.
Calmejane went downhill dangerously, sweeping the corners, *just* staying on the road.
The Peloton pushed hard behind him.
At with 5k to go , the worst thing in life that can happen to you at the end of 187.5k stage happened to Calmejane.
In his thigh. Gesink smelled blood, Calmejane grimaced as he went up the 6% climb.
Was it the end?
Calmejane tried to shake it off, spinning it off and then, fortune favouring the brave, the 24 year old was back.
And then it happened.
Riding for a Wildcard UCI Continental Tour team, Lilian Calmejane won Stage 8 of the Tour De France on his Tour De France debut.
If it is possible for you guys, just go and watch the highlights of this incredible young rider climbing today.
PS: Jean-René Bernaudeau, the manager of Calmejane's team Direct Energie, celebrates his 61st birthday today. What a gift given by Calmejane.
Jersey Wearers at the end of Stage 8:
Calmejane takes the Polka Dot jersey making it 15 years in a row that a Frenchman has worn the jersey atleast once.
Stage 9 and part 2 of the Jura Mountains continues tomorrow.