Wiggins keeps lead as Pinot triumphs
Britain's Bradley Wiggins defended the Tour de France yellow jersey on the race's second climbing day after seeing his lead come under attack for the first time on Sunday.
Frenchman Thibaut Pinot of FDJ won the eighth stage, his maiden win coming an an enforced debut, after 157.5 km of racing over several short but steep climbs in the Swiss Jura.
Defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC) finished second at 26sec, the Australian leading home a select group after a failed attempt to shake off Wiggins on the way to the last summit and during the 16 km descent to the finish.
Among the finishers with Evans was Italian rival Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Frank Schleck of Luxembourg (RadioShack), Belgian Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto) and Russian Denis Menchov (Katusha).
After taking the lead thanks to a third place finish on Saturday, Wiggins retained his 10sec advantage on second placed Evans with Nibali still third at 16 and Menchov moving up on place to fourth at 54 after Estonian Rein Taaramae failed to keep the pace.
However the Englishman got a taste of what may be in store in the climbing stages ahead.
With many pre-race hopefuls now several minutes in arrears the onus is now on them to attack if they are to claw back time.
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And on the way to the summit of the Col de la Croix, the seventh and last climb, Van den Broeck and Lotto teammate Jelle Vanendert took on the challenge.
Only Froome was able to stick with Wiggins in the select group but the Briton showed his mettle by sticking close on the way to the summit and when both Nibali then Evans tried to shake him on the descent.
Wiggins said he had not been surprised by their tactics.
"I'm not surprised at anything in this Tour. You can't underestimate or try to predict anything," he said.
"It was enjoyable, just like being in a junior race with everybody attacking."
A day after being isolated on the steep climb to La Planche des Belles Filles in the Vosges, Evans said riders like Van den Broeck and Spaniard Alejandro Valverde have everything to gain.
"A lot of the leaders are isolated, especially guys like Van den Broeck and Valverde who have already lost time and they don't have anything to lose, so they're much more willing to put it out there," he said.
"Opportunities don't come often in this line of work so when they come you've got to grab them by the neck and go with it."
Stage glory, meanwhile, went to the youngest rider in the race.
Pinot, 22, had to pressure his team boss Marc Madiot into letting him compete, and despite having instructions to stay in the peloton he seized the day after teammate Jeremy Roy prepared the platform for a late attack after getting into an earlier breakaway.
Pinot eventually attacked Swede Fredrik Kessiakoff of Astana on the seventh and final climb of the day, the 3.7 km-long Col de la Croix.
He came over the summit with a small lead and rode hard on the 16 km descent to claim the first French win of the 99th edition, sending Madiot into raptures.
"It's a dream come true," said Pinot, who is from the nearby Franche-Comte region.
"I just did the longest 10km of my life, I'll never forget it. I was quite scared when I heard the peloton had closed the gap to 50 seconds.
"But a lot of this is down to Jeremy (Roy). He did a lot of the preparation work for me, I can't thank him enough."
Kessiakoff's efforts meanwhile did not go unrewarded. He took over possession of the best climber's polka dot jersey from Froome by just one point.
Monday's ninth stage is the first of two long time trials in the race, a 41.5 km race against the clock around Besancon.
RESULTS - STAGE 8
1. Thibaut Pinot (France / FDJ) 3:56:10"
2. Cadel Evans (Australia / BMC Racing) +26"
3. Tony Gallopin (France / RadioShack)
4. Bradley Wiggins (Britain / Team Sky)
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy / Liquigas)
6. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Belgium / Lotto)
7. Chris Froome (Britain / Team Sky)
8. Denis Menchov (Russia / Katusha)
9. Haimar Zubeldia (Spain / RadioShack)
10. Fraenk Schleck (Luxembourg / RadioShack) +30"
11. Chris Horner (U.S. / RadioShack)
12. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Sweden / Astana) +47"
13. Nicolas Roche (Ireland / AG2R) +1:25"
14. Chris Sorensen (Denmark / Saxo Bank)
15. Maxime Monfort (Belgium / RadioShack)
16. Pierre Rolland (France / Europcar)
17. Michele Scarponi (Italy / Lampre)
18. Tejay Van Garderen (U.S. / BMC Racing)
19. Rui Costa (Portugal / Movistar)
20. Levi Leipheimer (U.S. / Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)
115. Daryl Impey (South Africa / Orica GreenEdge) +16:41"
1. Bradley Wiggins (Britain / Team Sky) 38:17:56"
2. Cadel Evans (Australia / BMC Racing) +10"
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Italy / Liquigas) +16"
4. Denis Menchov (Russia / Katusha) +54"
5. Haimar Zubeldia (Spain / RadioShack) +59"
6. Chris Froome (Britain / Team Sky) +1:32"
7. Maxime Monfort (Belgium / RadioShack) +2:08"
8. Jurgen Van den Broeck (Belgium / Lotto) +2:11"
9. Nicolas Roche (Ireland / AG2R) +2:21"
10. Rein Taaramaee (Estonia / Cofidis) +2:27"
11. Tony Gallopin (France / RadioShack) +3:13"
12. Rui Costa (Portugal / Movistar) +3:24"
13. Thibaut Pinot (France / FDJ) +3:41"
14. Chris Horner (U.S. / RadioShack) +3:43"
15. Fraenk Schleck (Luxembourg / RadioShack) +3:47"
16. Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia / Astana) +4:03"
17. Tejay Van Garderen (U.S. / BMC Racing) +4:08"
18. Ivan Basso (Italy / Liquigas) +4:12"
19. Andreas Kloeden (Germany / RadioShack) +4:24"
20. Pierre Rolland (France / Europcar) +4:26"
106. Daryl Impey (South Africa / Orica GreenEdge) +34:53"