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Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Saturday, 11 July 2009 16:17 UK

Sanchez secures stage eight win

TOUR DE FRANCE
Date: 4 July - 26 July
Coverage: BBC Sport website: text commentary of each stage and streamed BBC commentary of the last 90 minutes of each stage available; commentary on selected stages on BBC 5 Live sports extra


Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez
Sanchez was too strong for Casar in the closing stages

Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez timed his late burst to perfection to take the eighth stage of the Tour de France.

Sanchez, part of a breakaway group of four riders, overhauled Vladimir Efimkin in the final 500m before outsprinting Sandy Cesar at the death.

Rinaldo Nocentini, who keeps the yellow jersey, and the other main contenders, including Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong, all finished in the peloton.

But Britain's Mark Cavendish lost the green jersey to Norway's Thor Hushovd.

There was also a change in the King of the Mountains standings with Christophe Kern taking the polka dot jersey from stage seven winner Brice Feillu.

Sanchez showed impressive instincts in the final few kilometres of the 176.5km stage as he kept out of trouble before powering off Casar's wheel at the death to cross the line in St Girons first in a time of four hours 31 minutes and 50 seconds.

I began to struggle on the last climb but that's normal a day after you've been in a 200km breakaway.

Rinaldo Nocentini on having to fight to stay in yellow

Along with Casar, Efimkin and Mikel Astarloza, he had made a decisive break on the final climb, up the Col d'Agnes, then held off the peloton on a long descent to the finish line and fighting it out for the stage win.

"I knew that Efimkin was going to have no choice but to attack - he is one of my former team-mates," Sanchez said afterwards.

"I tried to get Astarloza and Casar to take relays. All I needed was a bit of luck, but I knew that I had the speed to beat them."

Without a summit finish, the Tour's second day in the mountains was never going to be as dramatic as Friday, when Contador surged away from his Astana team-mate Armstrong on the climb to the line.

There were no attacks from any of this year's big-hitters here as the main bunch of riders, which contained Nocentini, Contador and Armstrong, came home one minute and 54 seconds back.

Two-time runner-up Cadel Evans, who is almost three minutes behind that trio in the overall standings after a dreadful first week, had attempted to escape on the first climb - Port d'Envalira - but was soon hauled back.

On Col d' Agnes, 45km from the finish, Luxembourg's Andy Schleck also tried to spring free but the Astana team, a permanent fixture at the front of the pack, reacted instantly and ensured their two big stars stayed out of danger.

Nocentini was briefly dropped but his AG2R team-mates helped him back into contention and ensured he stays in yellow for a second day.

"I began to struggle on the last climb but that's normal a day after you've been in a 200km breakaway," Nocentini said.

606: DEBATE

"It's just not possible for me to follow a guy like Andy Schleck.

"It was only thanks to my team, and Stephane Goubert in particular, that I was able to get back to that group after he dragged me back up. He kept me in the yellow jersey."

Britain's Bradley Wiggins, who had climbed brilliantly on Friday, again impressed to keep in touch with his rivals in the general classification, and remains fifth overall.

But Cavendish fell back in the day and, after wearing the green jersey every day since winning stage two on Sunday, he will relinquish it to his Norwegian rival.

Hushovd cleverly went for small wins in intermediate sprints rather than taking his chance at the end of the stage, and his tactics saw him pick up 12 points in total - enough to leapfrog Cavendish and move 11 points clear of him in the points category, with 116 points so far.

Meanwhile, 2006 champion Oscar Pereiro pulled out of the race, citing severe fatigue.

"Since the start of the Tour he didn't have good sensations," said a spokesman for the Spaniard's team, Caisse d'Epargne.

"There was no point in continuing, because it wasn't doing any good."

Pereiro withdrew after 90km of today's stage, while another Spanish rider, Agritubel's Eduardo Gonzalo Ramierz retired just after the race left Andorra La Vella.

Six riders have now pulled out, leaving 174 men to start stage nine on Sunday, a 160.5km trek from St Gaudens to Tarbes - the last day of this year's Tour in the Pyrenees.


Stage eight result:

1. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa/ Caisse d'Epargne) 4 hours 31 minutes 50 seconds
2. Sandy Casar (Fra/Francaise des Jeux) "
3. Mikel Astarloza (Spa/Euskaltel) "
4. Vladimir Efimkin (Rus/AG2R) + 3secs
5. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa/Caisse d'Epargne ) + 1min 54 secs
6. Christophe Riblon (Fra/AG2R ) "
7. Peter Velits (Slo/Milram) "
8. Sebastien Minard (Fra/Cofidis ) "
9. Jeremy Roy (Fra/Francaise des Jeux ) "
10. Thomas Voeckler (Fra/Bbox-Bouygues ) "

Selected others:

24. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Garmin) "
38. Lance Armstrong (USA/Astana) "
53. David Millar (GB/Garmin) "
97. Charlie Wegelius (GB/Silence) + 14mins 14secs
113. Mark Cavendish (GB/Columbia) + 23mins 02secs

Overall standings:

1. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita/AG2R) 30 hours 18 minutes 16 seconds
2. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) + 6secs
3. Lance Armstrong (USA/Astana) + 8
4. Levi Leipheimer (USA/Astana) + 39
5. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Garmin) + 46

Selected others:

16. Carlos Sastre (Spa/Cervelo) + 2minutes 52secs
77. David Millar (GB/Garmin) + 27mins 18 secs
96. Charlie Wegelius (GB/Silence) + 34mins 6secs
131. Mark Cavendish (GB/Team Columbia) + 49mins 31secs



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see also
Tour de France week one photos
10 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Nocentini takes lead in mountains
10 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Hushovd overhauls Millar for win
09 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Voeckler wins Tour's fifth stage
08 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong just misses Tour lead
07 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Superb Cavendish triumphs again
06 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish storms to stage victory
05 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Cancellara wins first Tour stage
04 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Tour de France ones to watch
03 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Understanding the Tour de France
03 Jul 09 |  Cycling


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