Yellow Jersey Changes Hands in the Pyrénées

Sat 6 Jul 2013

As predicted, the Tour’s yellow jersey changed hands today in the high mountains of the Pyrénées. Runner-up to teammate Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) at the Tour last year, Chris Froome (Team Sky) won stage eight to jump to the top of the leader’s board. Australian Richie Porte (Team Sky) finished second on the stage and now sits second overall. Daryl Impey put up a valiant fight before he came unglued from the reduced bunch on the hors categorie Col de Pailhères. The South African ultimately finished in 35th place on the stage, 7’50 behind the new maillot jaune.

“Daryl hung on as long as possible,” said Sport Director Matt White. “He knew he’d lose yellow today, but he went down fighting.”

Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) was the first to go on the attack. Jean-Marc Marino (Sojasun) soon provided Hoogerland with company. Shortly after, Christophe Riblon (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Rudy Molard (Cofidis) managed to bridge across. The quartet gained nine minutes on the peloton over the flat roads that preceded the big mountains at the stage finish.

“There was an early attack straightaway,” noted White. “Four leaders went away, and we let them get a sizeable margin. We were defending the yellow jersey but we weren’t – because we always knew we would lose it. Out of respect to the race lead, we put some guys on the front to keep the move at a good distance.”

“Eventually Sky and the other general classification teams came up and chipped in,” White added. “Those teams were after the stage win and the yellow jersey. Their efforts chipped away at the lead as the climb approached.”

Team Sky wasted no time trimming the fat on the first ascent. The breakaway started up the Pailhères with 1’06 advantage over the Team-Sky led bunch. By the time the peloton had reached the summit, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) had a 27” gap over Riblon, the lone survivor from the escape and 55” over a group of less than 30 riders. 

Quintana faltered on the descent and managed only a slim advantage as he began the final climb to Ax 3 Domaines. By the time he was overtaken by the chase, only five riders – Froome, Porte, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) - were left. Contador, Kreuziger and Valverde were the next three to fall off pace.

Froome attacked as his competition faltered. Porte followed suit. The Kenyan born Brit won, solo, 51” ahead of Porte. The duo now occupy the first two spots on the overall classification with Valverde in third place, 1’25 behind on Froome.

“We had a lot of success in the first week of the Tour de France, but the race is anything but over for us,” said White. “There are still several stages that we’re targeting. While everyone is thrilled with what we’ve already done, we still have guys with big goals. We’re very happy to let them have a crack at it over the next two weeks.”