Many had expected the GC battle of the 2020 Tour de France to start unfolding earlier than usual as two mountain stages had been placed within the first six days. This failed to materialise, though, as time gaps remained small and riders didn't want to risk blowing up with a big attack early on.
"Everyone's also a little bit cautious maybe a bit defensive in the first week," said race leader Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott). "Why do you want to put yourself out in the line and use up your energies to then lose time in the second third week?"
But now, as the Tour enters the Pyrenees on stage eight, the contenders expect fireworks, with the peloton facing the Col de Menté, Port de Balès and the Col de Peyresourde.
"Today it’ll be a GC day for sure," said defending champion Egan Bernal (Ineos). "We’ll have to be very focused, try and not lose any time, take the opportunity if there’s any, and if not, stay quiet."
Groupama-FDJ's Thibaut Pinot, who showed his credentials for yellow on the big mountain stages before quitting the race through injury, says the Port de Balès could provide the platform for a devastating move.
"There'll be a big fight for the breakaway and a lot of movement on this stage. The best place to attack will be the Col de Peyresourde but the hardest will be the Port de Balès."
While Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) lost the yellow jersey due to a time penalty, the Frenchman seems to be relishing the freedom of not having the race lead, as he looks to target the stage win on stage eight.
"Not really no, I’m more focused on the stage," Alaphilippe said of whether he will try to wrestle the yellow jersey back from Yates. "Yesterday I felt really, really good. Today is a hard stage. We will see what happens on the climbs and see what I can do in the final.
"It's not going to be easy today. We'll see how the legs are. It will all depend on how hard the col is, the Port de Balès and we'll see about the descent."
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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