Hello and welcome to Cycling Weekly's live coverage from stage eight of the Tour de France 2021.
Stage start time: 13.10 (12.10 UK time)
Stage finish time: 17.06 to 17.32 (16.06 to 16.32 UK time)
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Hello and welcome to live coverage of stage eight of the 2021 Tour de France, the first proper mountain stage of this year's race.
Racing gets underway at 13.10 local time, 12.10 in the UK
What is in store for the peloton and for the viewers today? A day of excitement. The first mountain stage of this year's race, it's a 150.8km route that tackles four classified mountains, the final three all category one ascents. There's no summit finish, but the last climb - the Col de la Colombière - tops out 14km from the finish line in Le Grand-Bornand
The first foray into the Alps presents an intriguing tactical challenge for the peloton. We witnessed in last year's Tour how Tadej Pogačar, the leader-in-waiting, is not afraid to attack before a summit and then build an advantage on a descent.
The question, though, is not if the Slovenian will do that, but who of his GC rivals will also be minded to try such a thing.
There are such big gaps on GC that it's almost incomprehensible that we haven't reached the mountains yet.
As a reminder, Mathieu van der Poel leads the race by 30 seconds from Wout van Aert, with Tadej Pogačar in fifth, 3:43 down from the yellow. It is widely expected that Van der Poel will cede race leadership today, and the overall GC picture could be dramatically different by the end of the day.
The closest outright GC rider to Pogačar after a valiant, gutsy effort yesterday is Vincenzo Nibali, 29 seconds adrift of the Slovenian. Then, Julian Alaphilippe sits 40 seconds down, with Rigoberto Urán 1:21 back, Richard Carapaz at 1:36 and Geraint Thomas at 1:46.
Is Primož Roglič really out of the picture, 9:11 back from Mathieu van der Poel and almost six minutes from Tadej Pogačar? His team think so.
Will Van der Poel's highly enjoyable stint in yellow definitely come to an end today? Pundits, and even he given his recent comments, seem to think so, drawing on the assumption that his stocky build isn't conducive to long Alpine climbs, but the Dutchman's immense power - and the simple fact that he is a generational talent who appears capable of winning every time he starts a bike race - means it shouldn't be a foregone conclusion that he will be back racing in the standard colours of his Alpecin-Fenix team tomorrow.
This is the profile of stage eight. It's the classic shark-teeth depiction in the latter stages on the race's first day in the Alps.
Who could win today? It all depends on the general classification battle. Stage seven's thrilling drama revealed in broad daylight that no team is prepared to assist UAE-Team Emirates (except Movistar if Richard Carapaz attacks, of course) and you'd expect many of the GC men to try their fortune today. If a breakaway is permitted, or if a late attack by a rider not considered a threat to the yellow jersey is allowed to go, we could see Simon Yates winning his third stage in the race.
The Briton, who finished third in May's Giro d'Italia, is targeting stage success now that the race is in elevated terrain.
There will be dozens of riders fancying their chances today, and one is Dan Martin. The Irishman is treating the Tour as a 10-day race, as opposed to the 21 it actually is, and he's confident of stage success.
The Col de la Colombière, the final mountain of today's race, has featured 22 times in the Tour before, the last time being in 2018 when Julian Alaphilippe was victorious.
It's worth reading our report from that day just to reacquaint yourself with the fabulous Quick-Step Floors jersey that we definitely had forgotten was so stylish and elegant. It's like a football jersey in Lycra.
Look at it! Style points through the proverbial roof.
But back to the modern day and July 3, 2021. Where are we in the King of the Mountains race?
Courtesy of his stage win yesterday, Matej Mohorič is now the wearer of the polka dot jersey. Here is the top-5.
1. Matej Mohorič (Slo) Bahrain Victorious, 11pts
2. Ide Schelling (Ned) Bora-hansgrohe), 5pts
3. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix, 4pts
4. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, 4pts
5. Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis, 3pts
With five classified climbs, three of them being category one ascents, the King of the Mountains classification will look a lot different tonight. A rider who gets in an early breaks and stays away until the end could earn a maximum of 33 points. The first rider to the summit of a first category climb claims 10 points.
Today will be a day of surviving for Mark Cavendish, but we have some news - or, rather, speculation from his manager - on his future.
The race begins in just over 15 minutes at 13:10 CET. It's set to be an explosive day with Tadej Pogačar aiming to move into the yellow jersey, and his GC rivals preparing to claw back some much-needed time.
By the way, it's not just the Tour de France today. Over in Italy, the women's peloton are racing stage two of the Giro Donne and their parcours is harder than what the men's peloton in neighbouring France are challenged with. There's a massive summit finish to crown the day's winner. We'll bring you a full race report after the stage,
What are your thoughts?
Who do you think will be in yellow at the end of the first day in the Alps? #TDF2021July 3, 2021
Before the climbs come, there is an intermediate sprint after 44.8km of racing. That may affect the opening hour of the race if Mark Cavendish and his green jersey rivals want to sprint for maximum points. Let's see how it unfolds.
As the riders get underway for what promises to be a dramatic chapter in this edition's story, the rain is falling in Oyonnax. A tough day just got that bit harder.
A fist bump from Thomas de Gendt and Matej Mohorič at the race start. What have Mr Breakaway and yesterday's stage winner got up their sleeves, then?
There's quite a few riders trying to break clear in these first kilometres, De Gendt the notable rider. The climbing, by the way, has begun in earnest. This opening stretch looks quite taxing, as the sprinter Tim Merlier falls out the back of the peloton almost instantly.
This is an interesting move. Wout Poels, now of Bahrain-Victorious, has a small lead with his former teammate, Ineos Grenadiers' Tao Geoghegan Hart. The peloton, so far, look fairly happy to see them go away.
Geoghegan Hart has dropped back to a chasing group of five that includes Sepp Kuss of Jumbo-Visma as Poels continues at the front solo, 20 seconds ahead. Chris Froome, by the way, is clinging onto the peloton.
Poels is 10:45 adrift on GC to current race leader Mathieu van der Poel, so he isn't viewed as a threat to the yellow jersey. But if he is make his move stick, he'd prefer some assistance. There are seven riders not so far behind him, but they're focusing on building a decent gap to the peloton that is just a few dozen metres back down the road.
These early kilometres are being ridden at a frantic pace, and Geraint Thomas is clearly feeling it, dropped from the leading group of favourites already. That is not a good sign for the Welshman.
We were promised an explosive day, and it's shaping up to be one even after just 10km of racing. Wout Poels has a tiny gap to a chasing group of five, and 30 seconds back is the peloton that is already split into smaller groups. Oh, and riders are slipping on the wet roads. Settle in for the afternoon.
Poels has accepted that he can't go it alone, and now we are back as one, with Sepp Kuss second in line and looking around to see who he can trust to get into a breakaway that will stick. The descent that they are currently on can be described with one single word: sketchy.
Geraint Thomas has already lost a great amount of time today. He is 1:30 adrift of the peloton, in the same gruppetto as Mark Cavendish. No prizes for guessing that Richard Carapaz is Ineos Grenadier's leader, then.
Here were the riders at the start, the calm before the storm. There are 127km to race and the peloton remains at the front, with the group of sprinters at 2:02 in arrears. The fast men are joined by 2018 winner Geraint Thomas.
Wout van Aert fancies yellow! The Belgian is 30 seconds adrift of Mathieu van der Poel and he has just bridged the gap to a group of three who had gotten away, the trio including former British champion Connor Swift.
The peloton aren't in any mood to let Van Aert get away that easily, but the Jumbo-Visma man - who yesterday denied that he would try and stay in the hunt for yellow - isn't giving up easily. He now leads a peloton that is back as one, but he's attentive and prepared to jump clear again.
While we wait for a breakaway to form, TV cameras have just picked up Primoż Roglič drifting out of the back of the peloton. The Vuelta a España champion lost four minutes yesterday, and the Slovenian is clearly feeling the effects from his crash on stage three.
Italian champion Sonny Colbrelli is riding at the head of the race right now with a small gap. He is alone and no doubt eyeing 20 points at the intermediate sprint that comes with 105km to go. He is 102 points short of Mark Cavendish's leading tally in the race for the green jersey. 117km to go.
It's been a breathless opening hour on stage eight. With 115km to go, we still don't have a breakaway, but Primoż Roglič and Geraint Thomas are officially saying goodbye to their chances of winning yellow, the pair dropped early on and already substantially adrift.
Ineos Grenadiers, however, are now at the front of the peloton with Richie Porte driving the pace. Richard Carapaz showed yesterday that he isn't afraid of attacking: is he planning something special today?
There's been a lot of this so far today: attacks. But none have stuck.
No breakaway is good news for the sprinters who remain in the leading peloton with the intermediate sprint offering them an opportunity to reduce the deficit they have to Mark Cavendish in the points classification.
Crossing the line first was Sonny Colbrelli who takes 20 points, with Michael Matthews in second and taking 17 points. Will a break be permitted now?
Not even 24 hours have passed since Matej Mohorič won stage seven of this year's Tour and the Bahrain-Victorious rider is off again, attacking the peloton in a quest to form a breakaway. He's been very active so far today.
Tadej Pogačar, the defending champion and leader-in-waiting, is in the break. That's it. Let that sink in and try make sense of it.
Still we wait for an actual real breakaway to be built, with Pogačar surely not going to be allowed to be at the head of proceedings. Meanwhile, chaos on the day's final climb already.
There is a truck stuck on the final climb:Our osteopath Joe reported a problem on the Col de la Colombière. A truck got stuck and no one is able to pass.#TdF2021 pic.twitter.com/S3dhXUUXXaJuly 3, 2021
The day's first categorised climb, the Cat 3 Côte de Copponex, is approaching, and the situation out on the roads is complicated. Wout Poels keeps going clear and holding leads of around 20 seconds, but he can't stretch it any further than that. In his wheels is a group that includes Tadej Pogačar, with Richard Carapaz and Mathieu van der Poel seconds behind them. Much, much, much further back is Primoż Roglič and Geraint Thomas who were dropped early on in the stage,
Wout Poels has about a 40 second advantage with 84km until the finish. Behind, there's a fragmented group chasing and it seems like every rider is taking it in turns to gesticulate and express their frustration that a break can't form. This has been a crazy opening two hours.
Geraint Thomas looked relax at today's start. Right now, however, he is 10 minutes behind the peloton. Another pre-race favourite Primoż Roglič is a minute better off, riding alone and no doubt cursing the crashes on stage three, just like Thomas.
Meanwhile, relief. The truck that was stuck on the mountain road on the day's final climb is no longer unable to budge. It's clear, it's free, and the peloton have a clear passage to the finish.
Ça y est, le camion a passé le sommet pic.twitter.com/f1trm8fSQpJuly 3, 2021
Ok, whisper it, but the peloton might just have settled for a little bit. Wout Poels remains at the front without any companions, and 40 seconds behind him there is a group of around 20, including Sepp Kuss, Simon Yates and Alejandro Valverde. The peloton are two minutes in arrears to Poels.
You have to give kudos to Poels, he's remained committed from the start, intent on maximising his chances of winning the stage. The race has been electric since the flag dropped, and just as relentless is the rain.
The big group of chasers are 50 seconds behind Poels, and the peloton is now 3:30 adrift. 67km to go.
Wout Poels has sat up and is waiting for group two to join him, a sensible decision with the first categorised climb on the horizon. The brief lull in the race is about to end, one thinks.
Thanks to Chris Marshall-Bell for taking the main bulk of coverage today. He's just arrived in Rome for the big match tonight, so I'm now taking over for a bit. Tim Bonville-Ginn here for the next 20km before Richard Windsor steps in for the finish.
Back with the racing and Alejandro Valverde has dropped out of the breakaway apparently suffering from the cold. It isn't particularly cold in air temperature but the rain and the descents can still get to you.
Rui Costa has been left to work for UAE Team Emirates with Brandon McNulty and Rafał Majka sat with Tadej Pogačar.
50km to go and Chris Juul-Jensen (BikeExchange) is working hard in the break for his team-mate, Simon Yates. 4-18 back to the peloton from the break.
Our days break is:
Sepp Kuss (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma
Jonathan Castroviejo (Esp) Ineos Grenadiers
Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation
Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Trek-Segafredo
Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
Bruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis
Aurélien Paret-Peintre (Fra) Ag2r-Citroën Team
Nans Peters (Fra) Ag2r-Citroën Team
Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkéa-Samsic
Sergio Henao (Col) Team Qhubeka-NextHash
Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange
Chris Juul-Jensen (Den) Team BikeExchange
Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain Victorious
Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious
Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team DSM
Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM
Ion Izagirre (Esp) Astana-Premier Tech
We've gone by the point where that lorry was stuck. Thankfully it was moved in time for the race to come through.
I imagine it was a bit of a panic from the organisers and the police sorting this out. 48km to go with 4-48 to the peloton as the break has 2km until the top of the Côte de Mont-Saxonnex.
On the previous climb we saw Quintana have a dig for points. He clearly didn't know about only one point being on offer and Poels had already taken it. Quintana has moved close to the front now with 1km to the top.
Armirail and Peters both struggling to hold on with Peters just losing a bit of contact now.
Elissonde attacks first with Kuss on his wheel. This could be the first signs of new team tactics after various changes for their leaders. Poels has also joined them.
Poels counters them and distances them. He is looking superb today and takes maximum points. Woods dragging the other riders back with Quintana taking second I believe.
The conditions are really testing here. Kragh Andersen and Benoot have gone clear on the descent in a DSM double move.
Meanwhile, Izagirre was dropped with Peters and Armirail but the Basque climber went straight on onto someone's driveway instead of going around the corner. He did get back to the two Frenchmen quite quickly though.
UAE Team Emirates then took proper control of the peloton with Costa, McNulty and Davide Formolo as well as Pogačar being well placed. No sign of Majka interestingly.
40km to go with a gap of 5-13 to the leaders. Kragh Andersen now looking like a possible threat to the yellow jersey. Mathieu van der Poel is still in the peloton.
Oh another Astana-Premier Tech rider has got a corner wrong on the descent. Stefan De Bod was down looking very hurt, he is thankfully back to his feet now but he surely can't carry on. He is though, which I think is a poor decision.
Meanwhile, at the front of the race, Kragh Andersen is inside a minute to yellow as he has dropped his team-mate, Benoot as they hit the Col du Romme.
The chasing break is now in bits too as Woods has kicked on with Paret-Peintre and Quintana with 36km to go.
Woods has dropped everyone as well as catching Benoot who is going backwards. He is looking very strong and I'll just put it out there, I did pick him for today.
The Canadian is just 12 seconds behind Kragh Andersen who is just seven seconds off the virtual lead.
Moody images coming out from Getty Images photographers at the race.
Woods has now caught and passed Kragh Andersen who is trying to not get completely distanced.
Back in the peloton the pace has gone up with Ineos Grenadiers taking it up with Michał Kwiatkowski and Tao Geoghegan Hart as well as Richie Porte sitting in with Richard Carapaz likely being set up for an attack.
Van der Poel and Van Aert are still looking strong near the front of the peloton though.
Simon Yates is on the move in the break too as he is trying to bridge to Poels, Cattaneo and Quintana who have all passed Kragh Andersen.
Just under 6km to the top of the Col du Romme, 34km to go with the gap to the peloton at 5-52.
But that's that from me. I'll now hand over to Richard Windsor who will guide you up and down these climbs to the finish in Grand-Bornand.
Woods riding well but doesn't have it in the bag yet!
That looks like the end of his stint in yellow for Mathieu van der Poel - the Dutchman is finally distanced on the penultimate climb with UAE setting a hard pace
Wout van Aert is also in trouble now and his hopes of taking yellow look to be over.
Rigoberto Uran was also dropped with Van Aert but has managed to find something to try and bridge back to the main peloton.
It's still miserable conditions out there and we're only midway up the penultimate climb. Davide Formolo is pacing Pogacar with Ineos' Richie Porte and Tao Geoghegan Hart riding just behind them
It looks like Pogacar could launch an attack soon...
Richard Carapaz is now sitting in the wheels of last year's winner in anticipation
Michael Woods is persisting out front on his own with a four-man group of Cattaneo, Poels, Quintana and Yates at 23 seconds. There's then a gap of 5-17 to the white jersey group, and then 1-40 to Van der Poel.
Richie Porte comes through to take up the pacing on the front of the white jersey group
Pogacar attacks with Carapaz in the wheel
The break have 30km to go to the finish with Pogacar and Carapaz 4-49 down the road
Pogacar is attacking Carapaz 3km from the summit of this category one climb and has just about dropped him
We've still got the Col de la Colombiere after this, and if Pogacar continues like this he could be stamping his authority on the GC of the Tour in the first week
Pogacar is starting to hoover up the riders who'd been in the break, and he's in the big ring!
Back down the road a spectator's umbrella almost collides with Van der Poel as it gets caught in the wind. Luckily he was able to avoid it, but he won't be holding on to yellow today
Our lone leader Michael Woods has crossed the summit with 1-13 over the chasing group and 3-48 on Pogacar, who looks like he might close in on the Canadian on the next climb
Wout Poels has made a move to take mountains points over the summit of this category one climb, but the group he's in has now grown a lot
Carapaz is fighting on alone behind Pogacar but he's not making any inroads
First proper time check for Pogacar to Carapaz is around 1-20
Jonathan Castroviejo has waited from the breakaway for his Ineos team-mate Carapaz. Can the Spaniard make any ground on Pogacar?
Woods is 1-20 ahead of the chasing group with 21.8km to go as he hits the Colombiere (7.5km at 8.5%) - it looks good for the stage win with Pogačar still at three minutes behind
So the current race situation
G1 - Michael Woods 20km to go
G2 - Chasers from breakaway (Including Quintana, Yates, Poels) at 59s
G3 - Tadej Pogacar at 3-00
G4 - Carapaz and Castroviejo at 4-06
G5- Van Aert group at 5-18
Pogacar is now on the Colombiere but it will be difficult to close on Woods before the top of the climb and the long descent into town
Wout van Aert is currently in the lead in the virtual standings by around 53 seconds. He'll need to go full to try and maintain the gap to Pogacar, which is currently about 2-30
Carapaz is back on his own after Castroviejo's efforts, but gap is still over 1-20 to Pogacar
Meanwhile Woods is losing ground to Dylan Teuns who has attacked from the breakaway group - the Belgian is now at about 26s with 4km to the top of the climb
Teuns can now see Woods and the Canadian looks back as he's tiring up this climb. It looks like we'll have two leaders shortly
Pogacar has caught and passed Cattaneo and Quintana from the break and is now just 1-39 behind the leading pair who are 3.3km from the summit
Van Aert is on his own now giving his all with just 25 seconds in hand over Pogacar in the virtual standings
It's unbelievable how quickly Pogacar is motoring up this climb, the gradients are double digits for large parts and he's still riding in the big ring. He's now caught Wout Poels and he's just 58 seconds behind Teuns and Woods
In the virtual classification, Pogacar is now ahead of Van Aert, so the Belgian champion's chances of taking yellow are almost certainly gone
Woods and Teuns are 1.3km from the top with Pogacar closing in on them at 40 seconds now
Carapaz is losing time quite quickly now, with Pogacar 2-40 ahead
Teuns has dropped Woods up front with 700m to the top of the climb
Teuns has just 25 seconds on Pogacar as he reaches the final 450m of the climb
Pogacar has now caught Woods, so there's just the lone leader to reach before he's leading the race on the road
Teuns crosses the summit solo with 16 seconds in hand on Pogacar who will surely catch him on the descent
Wout van Aert has just crossed 1km to go to the top of the climb. It's a brave effort to try and take yellow but it's not to be today
Teuns is doing a good job on the descent to hold off Pogacar, with a 20 second gap holding on the opening few kilometres of the downhill
Carapaz has just crossed the summit of the Colombiere, 3-10 behind
Carapaz is looking like he might be caught by the other GC contenders behind after all his effort
Pogacar took the five second bonus at the top of the final climb by the way... not that he seems to need it
Wout van Aert has just crossed the summit
Teuns has grown his gap to Pogacar on the descent to 30 seconds with 8km to go, so it might not be a stage victory for the Slovenian
Pogacar has been caught by Izagirre and Woods on the descent. The white jersey didn't seem to want to take the risk to catch the lone leader who looks like he might hold on for the win
Teuns goes wide on a corner and just about holds it. He's really pushing down the narrow descent at 75kmh
The gap to the trio chasing has grown to 40 seconds, it looks like Teuns has this one
Just 3.5km to go now and it's out to 45 seconds with Woods and Izagirre leaning on Pogacar to do the work
If you were wondering about the yellow jersey Mathieu van der Poel, he's now down at almost 18 minutes, so his stint at the top of the GC is over for this year
Teuns is inside the last kilometre and is going to take the win here, the second in a row for Bahrain Victorious
Dylan Teuns wins stage eight of the 2021 Tour de France
Ion Izagirre comes in to take second place 44 seconds down with Woods in third and Pogacar in fourth.
Pogacar will take control of the general classification with a handsome margin after everyone has finished
Here's the stage top-10:
1. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious, in 3-54-41
2. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Astana-Premier Tech, at 44 seconds
3. Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 47s
4. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, at 49s
5. Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain Victorious, at 2-33
6. Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange, at 2-43
7. Aurélien Paret-Peintre (Fra) Ag2r Citroën Team, at 3-03
8. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis, at same time
9. Matteo Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 4-07
10.Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, at 4-09
The Carapaz group finished at 4-09 today, while Van Aert finished at 5-45
What a performance by Tadej Pogacar today though, we'll be talking about that one for a very long time.
It's also a sensational two days for Bahrain Victorious, who take their second stage win through Teuns, keep the polka-dot jersey with Poels inheriting it from Mohoric, and won the combativity award with Poels
Here's the new GC:
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, in 29-38-25
2. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-48
3. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech, at 4-38
4. Rigoberto Urán (Col) EF Education-Nippo, 4-46
5. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, at 5-00
6. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, at 5-01
7. Wilco Kelderman (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, 5-13
8. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar Team, at 5-15
9. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 5-52
10. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain Victorious, at 6-41
Full report from today's epic stage:
Here's the key analysis from today's stage:
FYI, Geraint Thomas and Primoz Roglic rolled in together on that stage, fourth and third to last at 35-01.
They both out of the GC fight now of course, Thomas at 36-03 and Roglic at 39-45