De Gendt storms to stage eight victory as Thomas recovers from crash

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But Alaphilippe was able to take back the yellow jersey ahead of the country's Bastille Day celebrations.

"My career goal was to win the Giro di Lombardia and stages at all three Grands Tour", said Pinot, who won the Italian one-day classic race previous year. "It's just unfortunate I can't get into free wind in the bunch sprints", Matthews said.

Cycling - Tour de France - The 200-km Stage 8 from Macon to Saint-Etienne - July 13, 2019 - Deceuninck-Quick Step rider Julian Alaphilippe of France celebrates on the podium, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey.

Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe snatched back the yellow jersey when his acceleration on the final climb saw only Thibaut Pinot able to follow - the pair finishing six seconds behind De Gendt.

Alaphilippe now leads Porte's Italian Trek-Segafredo Giulio Ciccone, who started the day in yellow with a six-second advantage, by 23 seconds and Pinot by 53 seconds.

"If I always had Di Marchi with me I'd have won many more stages".

Defending champion Geraint Thomas was involved in a crash with 17km remaining along with several of his Ineos temmates, placing fifth overall and 1:12 behind Alaphilippe. Alaphilippe and Pinot launched their move on the final climb but could not reel him in.

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"I was trying to catch my bike because one policeman took my bike away so it was very hard to get back on the bike".

Thomas was involved in another crash during the opening stage last week in Belgium. Woods later rode in with torn shorts.

"The worst thing was that Pinot got time".

Determined to shine on a day suited for "bardoudeurs" - a French word used to describe breakaway riders capable of winning on their own - De Gendt spent the day at the front.

The stage took a toll on many riders, including former Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali, who conceded four minutes and 25 seconds. A day after his long and unsuccessful breakaway in Burgundy, Frenchman Yoann Offredo struggled with an intestinal bug at the back while pure sprinters including Dylan Groenewegen and Caleb Ewan went through a day of suffering, just making sure they reached the finish within the delays. It was the final climb when De Gendt went solo, after he and De Marchi had ditched the other two on the Cote de la Croix de Part some 50 kilometres earlier, with De Gendt later heaping praise on his breakaway partner, saying: "He's the kind of guy who rides with full commitment".

Sunday's hilly ninth stage runs 170.5 kilometres (105.9 miles) from Saint-Etienne to Brioude. Thomas was not the only rider to hit the deck, after breakaway rider De Marchi overshot a corner going downhill and nearly ended up in a country yard.

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