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Sprintin' in the Rain

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Post-Race Show: Stage 8

Four riders made the break today, an escape that lasted until the final kilometers of the race. Laurent Lefèvre and Jérôme Pineau of Bouygues Télécom, Amets Txurruka, and Christophe Riblon of AG2R spent a hard day together in the rain. Laurent Lefèvre took an especially active role in the break, scooping up sprint and mountain points along the way. Nothing better to do on a rainy day in the break. At its maximum, the escape held just over five minutes in hand over the main field, but soon enough the teams of the sprinters began to work. Team Columbia, as has been their pattern of the past stages, made a huge contribution to the chase. They were joined by Team Liquigas and Credit Agricole both of whom spend significant time in the wind. The wet roads and head wind made for a difficult run-in, but inexorably the teams brought down the gap.

Inside 10 km to go, Nikki Terpstra took a flyer, in an effort to bridge to the break, but the bunch quickly ended his hopes. Inside 5 km to go, the teams of the sprinters turned the screws, lining out the field single-file. In the end, it was all about Team Columbia, who controlled the field and delivered their speed demon Mark Cavendish to the line. Team Columbia's Gerald Ciolek finished second, followed by Jimmy Caspar of Agritubel, Oscar Freire of Rabobank, and Robert Förster of Gerolsteiner. Kim Kirchen of Team Columbia retains the Yellow Jersey of race leader, while Oscar Freire's fourth place finish on the stage ties him with Kirchen in the Points classification. David de la Fuente leads the King of the Mountains, while Thomas Lövkvist continues as Best Young Rider.

Look for the classifications to upend tomorrow, as the race hits the difficult slopes of the Pyrenees.

Here are today's stage results and the current (unchanged) general classification.