Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Michal Kwiatkowski was able to maintain contact in the white jersey until late in the 195km Stage 8 on Saturday, despite a peloton setting such a high tempo in the final 10km that only about 20 riders remained in contention.
However, a blistering pace set by Team Sky ProCycling — led by Richie Porte — was enough for all but five riders to eventually drop off the back. Kwiatkowski lost contact on Cat 1 Ax 3 Domaines (7.8km, 8.2%) with about 7.6km to go, and one-by-one other riders were dropped as well.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) attacked at about the same time as yellow jersey leader Daryl Impey (ORICA-GreenEDGE) lost contact with the peloton on HC Col de Pailheres (15.3km, 8%), and he went on to catch and pass Christophe Riblon (AG2R – La Mondiale) for an attempt at a solo victory. However, in the final kilometers Porte paced Christopher Froome to within sight of Quintana, dropping riders Alberto Contador and Roman Kreuziger of Team Saxo-Tinkoff) and Quintana’s own teammate, Alejandro Valverde. Other big GC riders, such as Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) were also dropped not much earlier.
Froome attacked with less than 5km to go, dropping Quintana and going on to win solo by a considerable margin. Porte was 2nd, Valverde 3rd. Kwiatkowski finished 20th, +3’27″ back from Froome.
Quintana now wears the white jersey, and Froome takes over yellow. OPQS looks next to a 168.5km Stage 9 — with five mountain passes — on Sunday.
“The first mountain stage was pretty hard,” Kwiatkowski said. “I tried to stay with the best on the HC climb and I did it. But, after a crazy downhill, I almost crashed on the bottom of the last climb. I lost my concentration. On the first kilometer of the last climb I dropped from the first group. I tried to pass other riders on the climb. I did my best. Of course I’m a little disappointed because I lost the white jersey, but I think I improved a little bit on the climbs. So, I’m looking forward to the next stages and I hope to be good for us.”