Chris Froome of Team Sky, ably shepherded by Peter Kennaugh and Richie Porte, devastated the entire general classification of the Tour de France today with a dominant stage win atop Ax-3-Domaines, putting him in control of the race after this 8th stage. Froome attacked in the final 5km of the day's final ascent, after keeping things together over the Port de Pailheres, a hors-categoire ascent which welcomed the Tour to the Pyrenees for this year's battles. By then, he and his henchman had worn out all of the other big names -- Evans, Valverde, Contador, Rodriguez, van Garderen, and so forth. Only Porte seemed equal to the quality of the Sky leader, and even then only for a while.
On the penultimate obstacle, Colombian prodigy Nairo Quintana of Movistar attacked and went first over the top, followed by Frenchman Pierre Rolland of Europcar, who regained the polka-dot jersey for his troubles, and that ranking held on the descent to the final climb. Rolland briefly joined Quintana at the start of the last climb, but his legs were cooked, and once more Quintana was alone, daring the other favorites to catch him. Porte, however, took over from Kennaugh (who had led on the descent), and set a devastating pace that only Quintana's captain Alejandro Valverde and the Saxo-TInkoff duo of Alberto Contador and Roman Kreuziger could follow.
Quintana was reeled in with 5km to go, at the same moment that Porte and Froome put both Contador and Valverde into trouble. Froome then attacked, and Quintana got on his wheel, but only briefly, and soon Froome was away alone, with Porte and Quintana, the two super-domestiques, behind. Porte himself shook free 500 meters later, while Contador struggled to stay with Roman Kreuziger and Valverde. From then, the race devolved into a scattering of riders just dragging themselves to the finish. Some did better than others -- Laurens ten Dam and Bauke Mollema of Belkin and both Mikel Nieve and Igor Anton of Euskaltel notably moving up, while Contador visibly struggled, Evans cracked badly, and his teammate van Garderen suffered most of all, dropping more than eleven minutes. Look for some indication that van Garderen was ill, because he's far too good a rider for that to be his best effort.
- Chris Froome, Sky
- Richie Porte, Sky, at 0.51
- Alejandro Valverde, Movistar, at 1.08
- Bauke Mollema, Belkin, at 1.10
- Laurens ten Dam, Belkin, at 1.16
- Mikel Nieve, Euskaltel, at 1.34
- Roman Kreuziger, Saxo-Tinkoff, at 1.45
- Alberto Contador, Saxo-Tinkoff, s.t.
- Nairo Quintana, Movistar, s.t.
- Igor Anton, Euskaltel, s.t.
- Joaquim Rodriguez, Katusha, at 2.06
- Rui Costa, Movistar, at 2.28
- JC Peraud, AG2R, at 2.28
- Romain Bardet, AG2R, at 2.34
- Dan Martin, Garmin, s.t.
- Andrew Talansky, Garmin, s.t.
- Jakob Fuglsang, Astana, s.t.
- Michael Rogers, Saxo-Tinkoff, s.t.
- Haimar Zubeldia, Radioshack-Leopard, at 3.04
- Michal Kwiatkowski, OPQS, at 3.27
- Porte, at 0.51
- Valverde, at 1.25
- Mollema, at 1.44
- Ten Dam, at 1.50
- Kreuziger, at 1.51
- Contador, s.t.
- Quintana, at 2.02
- Rodriguez, at 2.31
- Rogers, at 2.40
King of the Mountains
- Froome, 31 points
- Pierre Rolland, Europcar, 31
- Porte, 28
Best Young Rider
- Talansky, at 0.46
- Kwiatkowski, at 1.23
- Bardet, at 1.33
- Thibaut Pinot, FDJ, at 4.37