Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) powered past Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange–Jayco) to win the uphill sprint-finish of stage eight of the Tour de France.
The final ramp in Lausanne proved too difficult for the sprinters and the group that arrived at the finish were made up predominantly of GC men.
However, Wout van Aert is no ordinary sprinter, and despite being boxed in, the Belgian fought to stay near the front and timed his sprint to perfection extending his lead in the points classification.
Fred Wright (Bahrain-Victorious) and Mattia Cattaneo (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) were in the break most of the day but couldn't hold off a marauding peloton.
Elsewhere, there were no major changes on GC and the peloton will now focus their efforts on tomorrow's Alpine stage.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Stage eight looked like a day for the breakaway as the riders faced a lumpy route across the Jura Mountains on their way to the finish in Switzerland's Lausanne.
The 186km stage finished with a nasty kick in the form of the Côte du Stade Olympique with gradients ramping up to 15%. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) took a 35 second lead into stage eight after his heroic win atop Le Super Planche des Belles Filles yesterday.
Clearly many riders had been given clearance to get in the break and the first 10km saw Magnus Cort (EF Education–EasyPost), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin–Fenix) all try and force a gap, among others.
In the end only Fred Wright (Bahrain-Victorious), Frederik Frison (Lotto Soudal) and Mattia Cattaneo (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) escaped the peloton. The trio began to build a lead over the peloton which grew after a touch of wheels brought down several riders in the bunch.
Kevin Vermaerke (Team DSM) hit the ground first and was forced to abandon with what looked like a shoulder injury.
Among the GC contenders, David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Rigoburto Urán (EF Education–EasyPost) and Nairo Quintana (Arkéa–Samsic) all fell, the latter heavily. Pogačar was held up, as was Geraint Thomas and Dani Martinez (Ineos Grenadiers) leaving their road captain Luke Rowe to neutralise the front of the peloton.
Then Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates decided enough was enough and sat across the front of the peloton to let the break go and calm proceedings in the bunch. David Gaudu and the other GC men were paced back to the group by their teams.
With 150km to go the three riders out front had a lead of just over three minutes which the peloton were content to hold. Meanwhile, Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën Team) looked in pain at the back of the group.
Fred Wright took maximum points at an uncontested intermediate sprint. On the other side of Lake Geneva, the summit of Mont Blanc appeared on the horizon hinting at stages to come.
In the peloton, Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin–Fenix) beat Wout van Aert and Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) to the line earning him 13 sprint points.
For the next hour Team BikeExchange–Jayco, Team UAE Emirates and Jumbo-Visma led the peloton through the stunning Jura Mountains, holding the gap at three minutes. However, on the day's first categorised climb, the Côte du Maréchet, the break lost 45 seconds and with 100km to go their lead had fallen to 1:40.
Over the top of the Côte des Rousses the trio's advantage was down to 1:20, falling below a minute as the race entered Switzerland with 70km remaining.
Sensing capture, Cattaneo accelerated and doubled the gap to 2 minutes while the peloton had a nature break. Frison was dropped leaving just Cattaneo and Wright out front.
Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) then suffered a double blow of bad luck, firstly crashing and then being smacked in the face by a Trek-Segafredo feed back as a soigneur reached across the road with it, smashing his glasses.
The gap remained at two minutes over the penultimate climb, the Col de Pétra Félix, before the riders hurtled down a long descent to Lake Geneva.
With 20 kilometres to go Wright and Cattaneo had a minute. Ineos Grenadiers and EF Education Easy-Post hit the front to position their leaders for the final kick as the peloton began to shed riders.
Cattaneo cracked leaving Wright to go it alone with 8km left. At the bottom of the final climb, the 4.5km Côte du Stade Olympique, Wright was roared on by a huge crowd but had just 20 seconds over a marauding peloton.
The peloton surged past Wright 3.5km from the finish with Pogacar all over the front of the race and van Aert looking ominous.
A select group of riders went under the flame rouge led by Rafał Majka (UAE Team Emirates).
But it was Wout van Aert who timed his sprint to perfection to come around Tadej Pogačar and Michael Matthews to win the stage.
TOUR DE FRANCE 2022 STAGE EIGHT: DOLE TO LAUSANNE (186.3KM) RESULTS
1. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma, in 04-13-06
2. Michael Matthews (Aus) BikeExchange–Jayco, all same time
3. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
4. Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto-Soudal
5. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education Easy-Post
6. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Cofidis
8. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma
9. Bob Jungels (Lux) AG2R Citroën Team
10. Tom Pidcock (Gbr) Ineos Grenadiers
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE EIGHT
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, in 28-56-16
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, +39s
3. Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Ineos Grenadiers, +1.14
4. Adam Yates (Gbr) Ineos Grenadiers, +1.22
5. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, +1.35
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM, +1.36
7. Tom Pidcock (Gbr) Ineos Grenadiers, +1.39
8. Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education Easy-Post, +1.41
9. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar, +1.47
10. Daniel Martínez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, +1.59
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