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Contador and Roche turn up the heat as Nibali breaks a sweat

The Italian was forced to fight hard to keep his yellow jersey as Blel Kadri claimed the first French stage win.

Alberto Contador, left, and Vincenzo Nibali, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, cross the finish line of the eighth stage.
Alberto Contador, left, and Vincenzo Nibali, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, cross the finish line of the eighth stage.
Image: Peter Dejong

FRENCHMAN BLEL KADRI became the first home winner of a Tour de France stage this year as he claimed victory at Gerardmer.

Alberto Contador took second on the 161km eighth stage from Tomblaine to snatch back a handful of seconds on Vincenzo Nibali, who retained the yellow jersey after coming over the line in third.

Kadri, 27, was part of a five-man breakaway that finally managed to stay away after a breakneck first 30km that prevented several prior attempts from sticking. The Ag2R rider countered an attack from compatriot and fellow-escapee Sylvain Chavanel on the first of three categorised climbs and from then on he simply rode away from the rest of the breakaway.

Cycling Tour de France A farmer sits on the wheel of his tractor as he watches the pack. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Behind him, Contador’s Tinkoff-Saxo team turned up the heat as the Spanish two-time winner looked to gain back some time on Nibali. The Italian matched him all the way up the final, brutal 1.8km climb at an average gradient of 10.3 percent until the final 100m where Contador stretched ahead.

He picked up only three seconds but the psychological effect of knowing he could finally drop Nibali, albeit only just at the end, will have boosted Contador’s confidence. He was aided magnificently by Tinkoff-Saxo teammate Nicolas Roche, who eventually finished the stage in 16th.

Behind that duel, Richie Porte, the new Team Sky leader after reigning champion Chris Froome’s abandonment on Wednesday, came in four seconds behind Nibali.

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The final climb provided the first indication of who will fight for the overall title and Contador, Nibali and Porte gave a strong sign that they may well occupy the podium in Paris.

- © AFP, 2014

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