Tour de France Stage 8 highlights and Stage 9 preview

Rui Da Costa (Movistar) won the eighth stage of the 2011 Tour de France, just ahead of classics star Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and BMC captain Cadel Evans. Even though the battle between the favourites raged in the last climb, the 24-year-old Movistar rider pulled away to win 12 seconds.

Australian Cadel Evans had been expected to snatch the yellow jersey following the 189 km race from Aigurande – the first stage in this year’s Tour with significant climbs. He finished third for his fourth podium placing in this edition but it was not enough to seize the Tour reins.

Norway’s Thor Hushovd maintained his one-second overall lead over the Australian after a brave effort in which he finished in the same time as Evans.

The day brought more bad news for RadioShack — Chris Horner did not start after crashing heavily and losing a dozen minutes. The Tour of California champ managed to finish stage 7 despite suffering a concussion, a broken nose and heavy bruising to one calf.

One of the big losers of the day was one of the pre-Tour favourites, Dutchman Robert Gesink was unable to follow the pace after injuring his arm in a crash earlier in the week and crossed the line 1:23 behind Costa.

Post race interview with Rui Da Costa:

Stage 9 preview and who to watch:

This is a long stage with a very up-and-down profile particularly as it features the Pas de Peyrol and the first-ever ascent of the Col de Perthus. Except for the opening 50km, it’s just climbs and descents all of the way. It’s a real leg-breaker. And if the action really takes off then there certainly won’t be 100 riders coming in together to contest the finish. It’s the kind of stage that should suit Sylvain Chavanel. Last year he won the stage at Les Rousses in the Jura when there were numerous attacks. On this stage, a group containing one of the race’s strong guys could get clear, which could in turn set off any number of counter-attacks, especially as a stage like this is never easy to control.

Video of Stage 8 route:

Overall standings after Stage 8:

1. Thor Hushovd (NOR/GRM) 33h06min 28sec

2. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) at 0:01.

3. Frank Schleck (LUX/LEO) 0:04.

4. Andreas Kloden (GER/RSH) 0:10.

5. Jakob Diemer Fuglsang (DEN/LEO) 0:12.

6. Andy Schleck (LUX/LEO) 0:12.

7. Tony Martin (GER/HTC) 0:13.

8. Peter Velits (SVK/HTC) 0:13.

9. David Millar (GBR/GRM) 0:19.

10. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/OLO) 0:30.

11. Alexander Vinokourov (KAZ/AST) 0:32.

12. Jurgen Van den Broeck (BEL/OLO) 0:39.

13. Ivan Basso (ITA/LIQ) 1:03.

14. Nicolas Roche (IRL/ALM) 1:12.

15. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 1:12.

16. Kevin De Weert (BEL/QST) 1:22.

17. Robert Gesink (NED/RAB) 1:28.

18. Jos Joaquin Rojas (ESP/MOV) 1:29.

19. Thomas Voeckler (FRA/EUC) 1:29.

20. Alberto Contador (ESP/SAX) 1:42.

21. Tom Danielson (USA/GRM) 1:57.

22. Christian Vande Velde (USA/GRM) 1:57.

23. Vladimir Karpets (RUS/KAT) 2:04.

24. Maxime Monfort (BEL/LEO) 2:11.

25. Linus Gerdemann (GER/LEO) 2:14.