The leader is Alaphilippe

The Frenchman recovered the yellow, De Gendt won heroically, Pinot put time to the roosters, Thomas stuck a heater and Nibali floundered.

The stage left Mâcon, the birthplace of Antoine Griezmann, just a day after the announcement of his signing for Barça, in full turbulence with Atleti. For those coincidences ... However, at the start there was no sign of support for the world champion with the Bleus, because on the roadside of the Tour, in July, the most talked about in France is Julian Alaphilippe, the cyclist who has starred in the biggest feat in what we race, the yellow jersey for three days ... And the aspirant, too, to this eighth stage of half mountain with seven ports that led to Saint Etienne.

Alaphilippe met the expectation, not He is a cyclist who avoids challenges. As he already did in his show on Monday, he started on the last climb, La Jaillère, which also hid an extra bonus. This time he did not win the stage, because ahead Thomas De Gendt had stood out, which was exhibited in the break of the day. Heroic. And this time he did not leave alone either, because Thibaut Pinot accepted the stake and left with his compatriot. France wants the Tour 34 years later. Who would remember Griezmann on such a day? Alaphilippe did reconquer the jersey, the robe that Giulio Ciccone had snatched from him two days before for only six seconds. This Sunday, on National Day, will shine yellow.

"How could we not come here before!", Said yesterday Thierry Gouvenou at L'Équipe, the technical director of a round that complies with 106 editions. Until the mythical Tour can discover new territories. Or, rather, it should be said that the Tour has more obligation than anyone to search and find, not to fall asleep in habits that often lead to drowsiness. The Strava social network, where many cyclists of the world, professionals or not, show their routes and where more than half of the participants in the Grande Boucle are registered, is one of the sources of inspiration. The technology at the service of tradition.

This was a very hard route that saved 3,750 meters of accumulated altitude. To give us an idea, the mountainous stage of La Planche des Belles Filles added 3,950. Such an imposing scenario demanded adventurers to his height. Because also among the habitual escapes there are castes. There are the spirited ones like Yoann Offredo, who has escaped three times, but always in almost flat layouts in which the script marks a resolution to the sprint, except for confusions. This Saturday was left off the hooks to the first hostilities. And then there are the lethal hunters, people like De Gendt, De Marchi, King or Terpstra, who were the ones who integrated the gallop of this Saturday.

A the moment of truth, only De Gendt, who topped all the ports of the day, and De Marchi kept their chance, a pulse with a platoon from which he first threw the Sunweb, then the Astana, and later the Education First. There was a desire to try something A tour like that deserved it. It is not easy to neutralize these greyhounds. De Gendt attacked in the last climb and left alone, as he likes to shoot. The Belgian enjoys every kilometer of getaway, which often ends successfully: has stages in the Big Three and even a podium in the Giro.

Behind played another thing. To win the Tour. Geraint Thomas used a heat to bond with the capos after suffering a fall; Vicenzo Nibali was despoiling and losing his options to the general, if he ever had them; and Pinot reconfirmed that this year has legs to assault Paris. He is already third, 53 "from his compatriot, and the first of the real aspirants, although I still can not rule out Alaphilippe. At the moment, he is the leader.

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