Tour de France rider’s $12k bike SPLITS IN HALF during crash

Thibaut Pinot gained time on stage 8

Instead, the Frenchman now builds on a 23-second advantage atop the overall standings, and embraces for the Bastille Day with yellow jersey back.

They crossed the line six seconds behind De Gendt, but 20 seconds ahead of the bunch featuring defending champion Geraint Thomas, who suffered a scare 15 kilometres from the finish when he took a minor tumble.

Sunday's ninth stage will doubtlessly see the French public roll out a yellow carpet for Alaphilippe as his popularity burgeons.

After five hours of exhaustion on the saddle across seven short but punishing climbs, Alaphilippe won back the yellow jersey with one of his trademark attacks, while Pinot asserted himself as a strong contender for the final victory, gaining 26 seconds on Thomas and the rest of the group of favourites, including Australian Richie Porte.

"I'm fine but it's just frustrating as the crash happened at a key point in the race", said Thomas, who also crashed on the opening stage in Brussels last Saturday.

The last French rider to be in yellow for July 14 fireworks was Tony Gallopin in 2014.

Cycling - Tour de France - The 200-km Stage 8 from Macon to Saint-Etienne - July 13, 2019 - Deceuninck-Quick Step rider Julian Alaphilippe of France celebrates on the podium, before receiving the overall leader's yellow jersey. "I realized how important this race is for a French rider", he said.

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He escaped with Thibaut Pinot, who came second to climb to third overall. He can compete with the best above 2,000 meters, an asset giving him hope he can succeed cycling great Bernard Hinault, the last Frenchman to win the Tour in 1985. "Since I've done that I'm more relaxed", he said.

Going into the leg-punishing route in Massif Central 47 seconds behind Italian leader Giulio Ciccone, Bennett is now one minute and 10 seconds off new pace-setter, Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe. It was the final climb when De Gendt went solo, after he and De Marchi had ditched the other two on the Cote de la Croix de Part some 50 kilometres earlier, with De Gendt later heaping praise on his breakaway partner, saying: "He's the kind of guy who rides with full commitment".

The long day's simmering tension erupted with 15km to go when Canadian Michael Woods (EF Education First) lost control on a tight right hand corner and took out a batch of Team Ineos riders hot on his wheel.

Gianni Moscon's bike snapped in two.

"It was frustrating to skip April and races like the Tour of the Basque Country but I knew it would pay off".

The national holiday test was a 170km ride from former mining town Saint-Etienne to Brioude - French climber Romain Bardet's hometown.

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