SAINT-ETIENNE, France (AP) — Thomas De Gendt won the eighth stage of the Tour de France after a long breakaway in the Massif Central as Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe claimed back the race leader’s yellow jersey with a well-timed move near the finish.
Defending champion Geraint Thomas was caught in a crash 15 kilometers from the end but escaped unscathed and crossed the finish line 20 seconds behind Alaphilippe.
Thomas took consolation from the fact that he was able to catch up with the speeding pack, but he was disappointed Pinot and Alaphilippe got away.
“The good thing is I had good legs to be able to (catch up),” he said. “It’s just frustrating that those two got time.”
The Frenchman finished the stage in third place in Saint-Etienne behind Thibaut Pinot.
Alaphilippe, who had lost his yellow jersey two days ago at the Planche des Belles Filles, made the most of the last of the seven climbs on the day’s program to attack alongside Pinot.
He went over the top in second position behind De Gendt and claimed five precious bonus seconds before keeping the pressure in the final kilometers leading to Saint-Etienne’s Geoffroy Guichard soccer stadium.
Thomas was slowed down by the pile-up involving Ineos teammates and did not move when Alaphilippe and Pinot went away. He finished the race safely in the pack with other Tour contenders.
It was unclear whether Thomas actually hit the ground. He had already been involved in a crash during the opening stage last week in Belgium.
De Gendt rode the whole day at the front after he moved away from the pack outside Macon, soon after the start of the 200-kilometer trek which took riders across seven short but leg-punishing climbs.
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