The eighth stage of the Tour de France provided a hectic opening, with riders desperate to get into the day’s breakaway. Although countless attacks were made, each move was brought back by the peloton who were keen not to let anyone get away. The day’s intermediate sprint came at 45 kilometres and Team Sunweb positioned Michael Matthews well to add some points to his tally. After a fantastic fight from the team to keep things together until the sprint, Michael was able sprint to second place.
Once the intermediate sprint was out of the way, the focus returned to the battle for the breakaway. It was only after 70 kilometres that a group of around 40 riders could break free from the peloton’s grasp. Team Sunweb were represented inside the front group with Warren Barguil, Laurens ten Dam and Michael Matthews all making the selection. Not happy with the size of the leading peloton, another group including Laurens pushed ahead with Warren later bridging across to join. Again not content with the size of the group, Warren launched a counter attack, taking one other rider with him up the road. Warren then went on to take maximum King of the Mountain points atop the day’s first climb and the duo extended their lead to over a minute. Behind Warren’s breakaway a group of three including Michael began to bridge across to the leading duo. The front of the race saw some more regrouping with Warren making the selection before the final ascent. After a superb effort out at the front and leading the break up the climb, the gradient began to take it’s toll and Warren lost contact with 16 kilometres to go. Team Sunweb went on to finish the stage inside the bunch.
Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek said: “Our first goal today was to position Michael well to be able take some points in the first sprint. After working really well together in the opening stages Michael was able to add some points to his total which was good. Next to this, we wanted to make it a really hard race and try for the breakaway. We had three guys in the initial break which was a great situation for us. Warren is recently back from injury so we weren’t sure how things would go with him. It was good to see him out at the front for so long so soon after his injury and a good opportunity to see where his form is at. Now that he knows his limits, we can use that accordingly in the coming stages.”
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