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Conditions are ripe for a breakaway on Saturday, which should be a fun teaser before Sunday’s demented climbs.
The 2017 Tour de France returns to real racing Saturday with a tiptoe (with three categorized climbs) into the Jura Mountains. Not that the last two days didn’t have their moments, but you could have missed all but the final 0.0003 seconds of Stage 7 and still feel like you’re in the loop. Stage 8 will have a real impact on the general classification, even if it’s not a decisive day. Think of it as a tasty amuse-bouche before a fattening Stage 9.
In order, riders will go over the Category 3 Col de la Joux, the Category 2 Côte de Viry, and the Category 1 Montée de la Combe de Laisia Les Molunes (we’ll just call it Combe de Laisia from now on.) After that final Category 1 climb, there are 12 bumpy kilometers to Station des Rousses and the finish line, setting the stage for three Hors Catégorie on Sunday.
Racing will begin at 6:25 a.m. ET in Dole. NBCSN will begin broadcasting the stage at 8 a.m., which should pick up the race before the first climb. To watch the entire stage, you’ll need a subscription to NBC Sports Gold. NBCSports.com will stream the race to anyone with a cable subscription, but it, too, won’t start until 8 a.m.
Conditions are ripe for a breakaway to win Stage 8. The long, roughly flat stretch from the top of Combe de Laisia to the finish line should tamp down time gaps and disincentivize yellow jersey hopefuls from attacking. There is also the matter of Stage 9 the next day, which will be contentious. Expect Chris Froome, Richie Porte, and Co. to try to save their legs as much as possible, assuming the stage hunters are sufficiently buried in the standings.
As with Stage 5, there is also a chance we see who doesn’t have the legs to compete on the general classification. It was telling, for example, that at the top of La Planche des Belles Filles, Nairo Quintana’s legs quit on him while chasing Froome, Porte, Romain Bardet, and eventual stage winner Fabio Aru.
Whatever happens, at least it will be something interesting, which will be a nice change of pace from the not-that-interesting and interesting-for-the-wrong-reasons racing we’ve had so far.
Coverage for Tour de France Stage 8 on Saturday
Start time: 6:25 a.m. ET (approx.)
Route: 187.5 kilometers from Dole to Station des Rousses
TV: NBCSN, beginning at 8 a.m.
Streaming: NBCSports.com beginning at a.m. (cable subscription required); NBC Sports Gold (purchased subscription required) beginning at 6:05 a.m.
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