French duo boosts home country's hopes at Tour de France

Thomas De Gendt of Belgium and Team Lotto Soudal celebrates his stage win

Cycling - Tour de France - The 200-km Stage 8 from Macon to Saint-Etienne - July 13, 2019 - Lotto Soudal rider Thomas De Gendt of Belgium wins the stage ahead of Groupama-FDJ rider Thibaut Pinot of France and Deceuninck-Quick Step rider Julian Alaphilippe of France.

"That's a very hard stage and we have all been riding full gas all the way already". Then with 16km of the stage remaining he was unable to get out of the way of a crash caused by his team mate Gianni Moscon coming into contact with Michael Woods (EF Education First).

Pinot leaps from seventh to third on the general classification, leapfrogging both Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas of Team Ineos, after gaining 19 seconds through time bonifications for his second place finish and the day's last KOM, plus the eventual countback.

Alaphilippe has erased his six-second deficit from the Italian debutant Giulio Ciccone. De Gendt, a noted breakaway specialist, delivered his second career Tour stage win in some style.

Thomas is fifth overall, now one minute and 12 seconds behind Alaphilippe.

Pinot is now likely to head into the first high mountain stage with huge hopes of donning the yellow jersey in Bagneres de Bigorre next Thursday.

The brutal attack was left unanswered and Alaphilippe went over the mountain in second position behind De Gendt, claiming five precious bonus seconds. I got tangled in Gianni's bike and took some time to get going.

"He had his interests and I had mine, but it was a moment of great beauty", said Alaphilippe, who leads champion Geraint Thomas by 1min 12sec. "It's annoying and frustrating but to come back like I did is good".

"We nearly crashed in a few corners because we were taking some risks. When that stage (win) does come it will be so much more appreciated". "It's just unfortunate I can't get into free wind in the bunch sprints", Matthews said. Woods later rode in with torn shorts.

"The [general classification] teams took over midway through the day and tried to help and bring the break back ... we started pulling straight away to bring back the three guys ahead but unfortunately we fell just short".

"I was on form today, and I didn't hesitate a second when I saw Julian go", said the smiley Pinot.

"The good thing is I had good legs to be able to (catch up)", he said.

Pinot, who has a love-hate relationship with the Tour having won a stage as the youngest rider in the race in 2012 but also experienced his most humiliating disappointments here, is happy to be taking part this year.

Sunday's hilly ninth stage is a potentially treacherous ride from St Etienne to Brioude over 170.5 kilometres.

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