Gérardmer La Mauselaine, France (4E Sports) – Blel Kadri delivered the first victory for France in this year’s edition of the Tour de France, dominating the 161-kilometer Stage 8 from Tomblaine to Gerardmer La Mauselaine Saturday.
Kadri finished the stage in three hours, 49 minutes and 28 seconds for his first career Tour de France stage win.
“It’s something crazy to win a stage at the Tour de France,” said Kadri, who took the King of the Mountain lead with 17 points and was selected as the most aggressive rider of the day.
The last climb left only Kadri and Chavanel fighting for the lead as the peloton began closing in but the latter fell back in the final few kilometers, leaving the eventual winner to celebrate in the rain at the finish.
“When Chavanel accelerated, I immediately went behind him,” Kadri said. “I was ready for that. I’ve realized that he wasn’t that strong, so I rode away solo.”
The Frenchman edged former champion Alberto Contador, who finished 2:17 behind the stage winner.
Contador, however, was unable to create a significant dent on Vincenzo Nibali’s lead as the Italian champion crossed just three seconds later.
“Alberto Contador took the race in hand,” said Nibali. “The last climb suited him more than me. It was very difficult and explosive. I made a little mistake in choosing my gear. It was a bit too big.”
Nibali has worn the coveted leader’s yellow jersey since Stage 2 and increased his overall lead over teammate Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark to 1:44.
With his fourth-place finish, Australia’s Richie Porte is another 14 seconds behind in third place while Contador moved up to sixth overall, 2:34 behind Nibali.
Sunday’s Stage 9 — a 170-kilometer trek to Mulhouse – will feature six climbs — including a Category 1 ascent and a pair of Category 2s.
The 10th stage on Bastille Day includes seven climbs, four of which are of the Category 1 variety, before the first rest day Tuesday.