As will Froome and his Sky team, who have held the yellow jersey since Saturday’s opening stage time-trial won by Geraint Thomas. That makes for a “fresher” Froome.
Once over the climb, the race undulates before dropping away for a pancake-flat final 50 kilometres into Nuits-Saint-Georges, where the last five kilometres go slightly up and down, before a straight ahead drag to the line.
“I’m certainly grateful that I have seen the climb”. The time difference is three 10000th of a second.
Tour de France leader Chris Froome has warned that Sunday’s ninth stage, a punishing trek in the Jura mountains will be “very decisive” for the general classification. Michael Schär and Stefan Küng pulled for most of the stage.
Although Fabio Aru (Astana) wore the polka dot jersey comfortably, Bouet still put up a good fight for the sole point on offer. “This year I’m not approaching it any differently”. The show of force raised eyebrows. “I was so close”, he said. “It was ideal [they worked]”.
“Our plan [in future sprints] will be to be in front of them and not have to take any of these risks and actually do my own sprint, instead of getting involved in that craziness behind”. It should be a big weekend of racing.
While Kittel celebrated there was despair for Boasson Hagan, the Norwegian stepping up in Mark Cavendish’s absence and coming agonizingly close to his first Tour success since winning two stages in 2011. He almost won the Critérium du Dauphiné, only failing on the last day when he and his team folded under attacks from multiple rivals.
Fabio Aru made a statement of intent on Wednesday and showed he is the heir apparent to 2014 Tour de France victor and Italian compatriot Vincenzo Nibali.
Past year s runner up, Romain Bardet came home fifth at 24sec behind Aru, to now sit seventh overall at 47sec. “It’s a huge shame for Eddy, but Marcel Kittel has got a lot of class and to lose to him is not bad”.
“It’s going to be a much tougher stage than the Dauphine given the climbs that come before it”. In the big mountains, Froomey has the jersey now, they will have the pressure.
“I think maybe if I started my sprint a bit earlier, second would have been possible but Kittel is another level”.