Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) repaid the hard work put in by his team all day with a second victory on stage 8, extending his lead in the green jersey at the Tour de France.
An early crash may have been a key factor in scripting the outcome of stage 8, among others the yellow jersey’s involvement and subsequent chase shutting down the necessary moves to create a large – and successful – breakaway. With only three men up the road, BikeExchange-Jayco did the lion’s share of the work for Michael Matthews and Jumbo-Visma was also clearly interested in stage glory, so the escape looked to be on a hiding to nothing.
The gap had dropped to around the minute mark as the race entered Switzerland, but as Frederik Frison (Lotto Soudal) called it a day and dropped back to the peloton where the pace had briefly slowed, the remaining leaders Mattia Cattaneo (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) and Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) put the hammer down and their advantage bounced back over two minutes.
After the fourth-category Col de Pétra Félix, topping out about 53 km from home, it was a descent almost all the way to the foot of the stepped climb to the finish in Lausanne. The punchy Cat.3 Côte du Stade Olympique is deceptive with its 4.5% gradient over 4.9 kilometers, but it drops down halfway up before the final kicker with a max grade of over 12%.
With 15 km to go, the breakaway held about 45 seconds as the peloton got itself into formation for the final approach. Fred Wright was the last man standing, only caught 3.5 km from the line by a peloton preparing for a very reduced sprint among climbers and puncheurs.
Matthews led the gallop to the line with Tadej Pogačar on his wheel, but Van Aert was ready to pounce. He went from looking boxed in to surging to the front and winning by a length in the green jersey.
After his team worked hard all day, Matthews held on for another second place and Pogačar took four bonus seconds with third.
Tour de France (2.UWT)
Dole → Lausanne