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Pinot clings on to win Stage Eight; Wiggo keeps yellow

ESPN staff
July 8, 2012 « Siem snatches title despite Molinari magic | Chartbeat test »
Thibaut Pinot celebrates as he wins Stage Eight © PA Photos
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France's Thibaut Pinot showed tremendous endurance to win a gruelling Stage Eight of the Tour de France, while Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins retained the yellow jersey.

Pinot, the youngest rider on the Tour at 22, made a huge statement when passing long-time leader Frederik Kessiakoff (Astana) with 17km to race and, although a number of big names were among an 11-strong group chasing him down, the Frenchman held on to win in three hours, 56 minutes and 10 seconds.

Cadel Evans, who started the day 10 seconds down on race leader Wiggins, finished second after a late charge but the Brit stayed on his wheel to cross in the same time for fourth to maintain his advantage in the GC.

Kessiakoff still looked strong with 20km until the finish, although his lead was gradually being eaten up by a determined Pinot. Kessiakoff continued to press but he was finally reeled in, with Pinto hitting the front 2km from the end of the final climb - the Col de la Croix.

His lead stood at 40 seconds with 4km remaining and, despite fading as he approached the finish of the 158km course, he did enough to cross with 26 seconds to spare.

Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez looks unlikely to be able to defend his crown at London 2012 after momentarily losing consciousness after hitting his head in a crash. The Spanish Euskaltel rider was taken to hospital with a broken collarbone, leaving him a huge doubt for the race in London on July 28.

Stage Eight result
1 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat - 3:56:10
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team - 0:00:26
3 Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack-Nissan - 0:00:26
4 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling - 0:00:26
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale - 0:00:26
6 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team - 0:00:26
7 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling - 0:00:26
8 Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team - 0:00:26
9 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan - 0:00:26
10 Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan - 0:00:30

General classification
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling - 38:17:56
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team - 0:00:10
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale - 0:00:16
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team - 0:00:54
5 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan - 0:00:59
6 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling - 0:01:32
7 Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan - 0:02:08
8 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team - 0:02:11
9 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale - 0:02:21
10 Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne - 0:02:27

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