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Tour de France Stage 8 Preview: Cloudy, With a Chance of Breakaway

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Le-tour_mediumThe Tour de France has entered the mountains and found them to its liking, so it shan't be leaving them any time soon. Stage 8 travels 157.8km from Belfort to Porrentury, traversing over seven categorized climbs on the way. This is a true middle mountains stage, as we like to call them, for only one climb ranks as high as a Category 1. That climb - the Col de la Croix - is a short 3.7km long but averages 9.2% for the journey to the summit. That's climber territory.

The Col de la Croix summits 16km from the finish, the majority of which are slightly rolling downwards after a short descent. Though Jean-François Pescheux at the ASO believes this stage to offer an opportunity for race favorites to make back time they lost on today's summit finish at La Plance des Belles Filles, a more subdued plot is more likely to prevail. The stage is constantly climbing and descending all day, but nothing is hard enough to truly break an overall contender, at least enough to hold them off on the final charge to the finish line. Team Sky's complete domination of today's stage should reinforce that notion tomorrow, as taking time out of Wiggins would require completely eroding his supporting cast, which is highly unlikely to happen on only a moderately difficult day.

Instead, tomorrow is likely to see the first successful breakaway of this year's Tour. With all the mountain points on offer, someone with polka dotted dreams will surely join the early breakaway. The biggest question of the day may be whether Michael Mørkøv once again makes the early break to snatch back the Climbers jersey he lost today. Chris Anker Sørenson, who was in the breakaway today and earned 6 points on route, may decide to join in the fun again too. Really, the battle for the poka dots is likely to be the most entertaining tomorrow, followed closely by the breakaway fireworks that are sure to happen on the final climb.

Here is your overall classification.