Frenchman Thibaut Pinot wins eighth Tour stage

Thibaut Pinot broke free from the pack during a steep, final climb and held off rivals over the final six miles to become the first French rider to win a stage in this Tour.

PORRENTRUY, Switzerland — Thibaut Pinot gave France its first stage victory in the Tour de France on Sunday while Bradley Wiggins, of Britain, kept the overall lead as the race entered Switzerland.


Pinot broke away from the pack during a steep, final climb and captured the 98-mile, eighth stage from Belfort to the Swiss town of Porrentruy. The 22-year-old Frenchman, the youngest rider in the main pack, held on during a frenzied chase in the last six miles, a mostly flat stretch.

This was by far Pinot’s biggest achievement.

His previous top performance was at the 2010 the Tour of Romandie, where he was honored as the best climber.

“I will remember this day my entire life,” Pinot said as teammates embraced him. “I can’t yet get my mind around it.”

Overall, Wiggins leads defending champion Cadel Evans by 10 seconds. The Australian mounted a late but unsuccessful attack on the Briton. Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali was third, 16 seconds off the pace

Defending Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez withdrew after a crash 35 miles into the stage.

He broke his right hand and injured his left shoulder, and could miss the London Games.

Sanchez fell on his side before two other riders landed on him. He sat on the ground in tears, clutching his left shoulder and arm as medical teams tended to him. He could not get back on a bike and was put on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital in Montbeliard.

Crashes have marred the first week of the Tour. Sanchez became the 20th rider to drop out of the three-week race. The Spaniard entered the day in 12th place.


STAGE: The 97.9-mile middle mountain trek featuring seven categorized climbs that took riders to Switzerland. The stage included the Col de la Croix, a 2.3-mile climb with gradients as steep as 17 percent 10 miles before the finish.

WINNER: Thibaut Pinot, of France

YELLOW JERSEY: Bradley Wiggins, of Britain

STAT OF THE DAY: 22, Pinot’s age. The Frenchman is the youngest rider in the Tour peloton this year.

TODAY’S NINTH STAGE: A 25.7-mile time trial between Arc-et-Senans and Besancon. The route is mainly flat and looks tailor-made for Wiggins, who is expected to extend his lead over Evans after thrashing the Australian rival in the race against the clock at the Criterium du Dauphine in June.

– Associated Press



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