The Break Should Stay Away on Stage 8 of the Tour de France

·3 min read
Photo credit: Alex Broadway - Getty Images
Photo credit: Alex Broadway - Getty Images

Stage 8 - Dole to Lausanne - 186.3km - Saturday, July 9

The Alps and Pyrenees get all the love in the Tour de France, but don’t sleep on the nation’s other mountain ranges like the Vosges—site of yesterday’s dramatic first summit finish—and the Massif Central, which the race will visit in about a week. But Stage 8 is all about crossing the Jura, the small limestone range that runs between France and Switzerland. (If you want to know more, the Geology of the Tour de France site has fantastic info.)

This 186.3-kilometer stage is ripe for the breakaway that (barely) didn’t succeed on Stage 7. All the ingredients are there: medium length, lumpy-but-not-crazy profile, favorable weather, and an uphill finish in an urban environment that gives the advantage to a small group and will create tense, tactical racing. Oh, and a peloton that’s tired from a week of hard racing and looking at another summit finish on Sunday.

From the start in Dole, the race heads generally southeast to the Jura and the first of four climbs. None are huge, but the route profile is up and down much of the day. An early breakaway is a near-certainty, although it’ll likely be a fight to establish who’s in it. From the top of the third climb, the modest, fourth-category Col de Pétra Félix, it’s a long, mostly gentle descent to the outskirts of Lausanne.

After skirting Lac Léman, the course takes a hard left into downtown with 5km to go. But instead of a city-center finish, the race heads toward the Stade Olympique, which sits on a hill. About two kilometers of medium climbing (5.5 percent) is followed by a brief, slightly downhill section before the final jump to the finish, which includes sections up to 12 percent before easing back a few hundred meters from the line. The combination of racing on urban streets with tight corners, roundabouts, and various other bits of “road furniture,” and the tricky climb will make for an exciting finish. The forecast is partly cloudy with highs near 80 and no real chance of rain. Winds will be generally light and from the riders’ backs much of the stage.

Riders to Watch

We expect a day-long breakaway. There will likely be two exciting points to watch: right around the start, and the finish. As an almost sure bet for the break to stay away to the finish, it’ll be a popular group, with all the finest people trying to get a ticket in. That fight will make for some fast, exciting racing in the first hour. Once the move is established, it should settle down until the final 15 or so kilometers. Race start is at 7:20 a.m. ET, so 7:30-8:30 a.m. ET should be fun. Be sure to be in front of a screen around 11 a.m. ET for the finish fireworks.

When to Watch

After coming oh-so-close to a stage win yesterday, Bora-Hansgrohe will be motivated to try again, especially after team leader Aleksandr Vlasov’s GC hopes took a hit on the Belles Filles climb; Felix Großschartner is one to watch. Ag2r Citroën, whose leader Ben O’Connor had just an awful day, is likely to switch to stage hunting, and Benoit Cosnefroy is a good pick for joining the break. They’ll be joined, likely, by riders from Lotto-Soudal, Israel-Premier Tech, BikeExchange (the finish is perfect for Michael Matthews), and Intermarché-Wanty. Another possibility is that some sprinters may jump in the break. That’s unusual for a lumpy stage with an uphill finish, but the intermediate sprint, which carries 20 points to the first rider over the line, comes in the first third of the stage before all the major climbing, so green jersey tactics could play a role. Don’t be surprised to see Quick-Step’s Fabio Jakobsen or Jumbo-Visma’s Wout van Aert in the mix early.

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