Frenchman beats heat in stage win
IT WAS supposed to be the entree to Sunday’s mountainous main course, but Stage 8 was more like a well- done roast.
Frenchman Lilian Calmejane fought through late cramps to claim his first Tour de France stage win at ski village Station des Rousses - emerging solo from a large breakaway on the final climb.
But for all the talk of Team Sky giving up the yellow jersey to a non- threatening rider to ease pressure, Chris Froome’s teammates kept the pace high to discourage rival attacks.
It meant that on another scorching day where sections of bitumen melted in the sun, the pace was just as hot.
A 50- rider lead group that formed about halfway through the stage averaged a painful 47kmh over the first 140km. Calmejane needed to average 41.59kmh to win.
With the foot on the gas, Froome ran off the road on a descent and Team Sky teammate Geraint Thomas crashed on the same corner, but both were unhurt.
Aussie Richie Porte, who remained fifth, 39 seconds behind Froome, predicted fatigue would be a major factor.
“That was a pretty wild, old stage. Tomorrow we’ll feel that one in the legs for sure,” Porte said.