Today's stage 8 of Le Tour was predictably boring for the first three hours (ho hum, a five man break pulls 10 minutes on a disinterested and resting peleton in quiet sunshine), and then predictably exciting for the last one (a breakaway survivor wins and a GC battle errupts on the final climb in pouring rain). And so it goes. Congratulations to Blel Kadri (call him "Joe" :) who attacked his breakaway companions as the climbs started near the end and won convincingly, taking the lead in the climbers' polka dot jersey competition as well.
Meanwhile back in the peleton Alberto Contador's Saxo teammates cranked up the pressure and decanted the field on the first climb, leaving a select group of about 20 riders to content the final short (1 miles) but steep (10%+) climb to the finish. At that point Contador attacked, but he couldn't shake yellow-jersey-wearer Vincenzo Nibali, who was content to follow and not lose any time. Richie Porte was right there too, good for him as he assumes leadershop of the Sky team from defending champion Chris Froome who crashed out in stage 5. Meanwhile the other contenders all fell back a bit, as the Tour saw a main selection that establishes the leaderboard going into the second week. Nibali's teammate Jakob Fulsang lost time but is still in second (1:44), Porte moved up to to third (1:58), Michal Kwiatkowski lost time but is now fourth (2:26), Alejandro Valverde also lost time but also moved up, to fifth (2:27), and Contador sits sixth (2:34). Other would-be contenders include Rui Costa (8th, 2:52), Bauke Mollema (9th, 3:02), Tejay Van Garderen (12th, 3:34), and Andrew Talansky (16th, 4:42), who was the victim of a poorly timed crash just before the final climb.
Tomorrow will be more of the same: not high mountains, exactly, but six categorized climbs. They don't come at the end, so perhaps we will see another breakaway and another victorious survivor. Of note, Peter Sagan finally lost time today (18:17), after being up among the leaders in every stage so far, so he might be allowed to escape for a win.