Wout van Aert times the Tour de France to perfection to win stage eight

Ovan Aert won the eighth stage of the Tour de France as Tadej Pogacar extended his advantage in the yellow jersey.

After a steep climb away from Lake Geneva to the finish, Van Aert beat Michael Matthews in a reduced sprint just past Pogacar at the end of the 186km stage from Dole to the Olympic Stadium in Lausanne, Switzerland.

It was Van Aert’s second stage victory in this Tour de France, while Pogacar’s third-place finish brought four bonus seconds to increase his lead in yellow to 39 seconds ahead of Jonas Vingegaard.

The stage in Switzerland seemed ideal for a big breakaway to descend the road and fight for the honours, but only three riders – Mattia Cattaneo, Frederik Frison and Briton Fred Wright – had cleared before a fall divided the peloton.

Pogacar, Geraint Thomas, David Gaudu and Romain Bardet were among those retained, with Pogacar taking a crash, so the main group sat down to allow a regroup, leaving three breaks hanging on the road in a doomed mission.

Wright, the last man standing, was rocked as the inclines hit 12 per cent on the climb to the finish line, with Pogacar sitting in third wheel to ensure it was a day the main favorites should be attentive.

Matthews initially tried to lighten his sprint but Van Aert, already so impressive in this opening week, again had the power to take the lead and take the victory.

Victory sees Van Aert extend his lead in the points standings, with the green jersey his target after spending four days in yellow earlier in the week.

“Of course I’m super happy with the points for the green to win today,” said the Belgian.

“Today was a great chance to take a lot of points from my competitors and I’m really pleased that my team did everything they could to continue the breakaway. Then you have to finish it.”

Pogacar may have extended his lead in yellow, with Thomas now 74 seconds from third place, but such is the 23-year-old’s appetite for success that he looks more disappointed not to have won three stages in a row.

“It wasn’t that far but it was a fun game today,” he said. “It was a long day, it was getting hotter and hotter and there were a lot of dangerous spots.

“The last climb I liked. For the sprint, I maybe hesitated a bit and Van Aert overtook me with super speed. Of course, I’m a little disappointed but third place is still excellent. “

Asked about this first accident, Pogacar said: “I was in the middle of the accident. I touched the ground but not so much, it was one of the softest accidents I have ever had. This was nothing wrong with me.”

Van Aert tightens his grip on the green: As it happened…

About Walter J. Leslie

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