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Frenchman Anthony Turgis wins tough Tour de France stage on gravel roads, Pogacar keeps the lead

France’s Anthony Turgis, left, celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win ahead of Britain’s Thomas Pidcock, center, and Canada’s Derek Gee, right, during the ninth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 199 kilometers with start and finish in Troyes, France, on July 7, 2024.
| Photo Credit: AP

Frenchman Anthony Turgis emerged victorious from a long breakaway through the dust of gravel roads to claim the eighth stage of the Tour de France after an hectic day of racing on Sunday.

Behind the breakaway, race leader Tadej Pogacar was constantly on the attack but could not gain time on his main rivals for the yellow jersey.

Turgis posted the biggest win of his career in a sprint, edging Tom Pidcock and Derek Gee in the Champagne city of Troyes.

“It’s incredible, it was a long time since I did not win,” said Turgis. “It was a long day, the team put its trust in me by giving me carte blanche today. I dedicate this win to all the people who trusted me.”

There was no major change in the overall standings, with Pogacar keeping his 33-second lead over Remco Evenepoel. Two-time defending champion Jonas Vingegaard remained in third place, 1:15 off the pace.

The tough stage took riders on a nearly 200-kilometre trek through 14 sections of so-called white roads — including six in the stage finale — that have become a trademark of Italy’s Strade Bianche.

Pogacar loves riding on this difficult terrain, having won the Strade Bianch twice, and proved it with relentless attacks that put his rivals on the back foot. Primoz Roglic suffered but managed to bridge gaps every time he got dropped and kept his fourth place overall, 1:36 behind Pogacar.

The peloton will enjoy its first rest day on Monday.

The Tour paid tribute to Norwegian rider Andre Drege, who died Saturday after crashing in a downhill at the Tour of Austria. To honour his memory, cyclists from the Norwegian team Uno-X Mobility arrived at the start line five minutes ahead of the start, with the rest of the peloton staying behind during a moment of applause.

There was a flurry of attacks from the start. A group of 10 riders including Turgis managed to escape before the first sector of gravel and were joined by a handful of counterattackers.

Behind, a traffic jam of riders formed at the foot of a very steep segment of white roads, with many competitors forced to dismount and to run up the climb. Vingegaard and Pogacar avoided the jam but Roglic got dropped, lagging about 30 seconds behind at one point before he bridged the gap.

Vingegaard later suffered a mechanical problem and teammate Jan Tratnik gave his leader his bike. Pogacar then sped up the pace, followed by Evenepoel. The pair could not break away from the pack, though, and Vingegaard’s Visma Lease A Bike teammates moved to the front to add to the frenetic pace.

The battle between the main contenders intensified when Evenepoel attacked with 78 kilometers left in the Côte de Chacenay. Pogacar and Vingegaard did not panic and managed to chase him down. Roglic, however, could not follow. Still on his teammate’s bike, Vingegaard did not take his turn in the lead as the trio joined the main break.

With Vingegaard refusing to collaborate, they finally slowed down and Evenepoel looked dejected by his rival’s attitude.

Pogacar attacked again with about 20 kilometers left as Evenepoel and Roglic could not follow. Vingegaard, with the help of teammate Matteo Jorgenson, stayed in his wake. Again, Vingeaard did not take his turn and Pogacar stopped his effort.

Pogacar tried to go away one last time with eight kilometers left, but once again Vingegaard responded.

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