Stage eight played out exactly how we thought it would. It was the most aggressive stage of the Tour de France we’ve seen so far. We had three guys looking for an opportunity to get into a break, and while I said yesterday that we were hoping it was Simon Gerrans, we would have been equally happy to send Pieter or Michael up the road.
Gerro, Alba and Pieter all made various breaks, and finally Pieter was in the move that stayed away. He was part of a 22 rider lead group that attacked each other repeatedly in an attempt to create a more elite selection. In the end, Pieter blew up and rejoined the field.
Stuey was our top finisher today in 45th place. He came in with a group that included Gerro about five minutes down on the stage winner. Daryl, Brett and Gossy came in together in a larger group easily within the time limit. The rest of our guys filtered in between those two groups.
It was an awesome ride by Thibaut Pinot (FDJ – BigMat) to take the stage win. We continue to see that Cadel Evans (BMC) and Bradley Wiggins (Sky) are fairly evenly matched in the big battle developing between them. I suspect the time trial tomorrow is going to be one of the most crucial days of the Tour. Before the Tour started, I said I thought this race would be won by the two longer time trials, and it certainly seems to be shaping up that way.
While tomorrow is a big day for the overall contenders and those who specialize in the discipline, none of our riders will be racing full gas tomorrow. We don’t have any world-class time trialists interested in targeting the stage, and without a focus on the overall, it’s doesn’t make sense for us to spend our energy on the effort. We’re looking forward to a pretty low key Monday for the team ahead of our first rest day on Tuesday.