Sam Bennett steals back points as Nans Peters wins first Tour stage

Nans Peters is the first French rider to capture a stage in this year’s Tour de France

 France’s Nans Peters on his way to winning stage eight of the Tour de France. Photograph: Getty Images

France’s Nans Peters on his way to winning stage eight of the Tour de France. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Rarely have two points won at an intermediate sprint counted for so little or so much. As a statement at least, Sam Bennett beating Peter Sagan under the green banner which came 42.5km into the first of two back-to-back mountain stages in the Pyrenees was unquestionably one of intent.

It may be a minor footnote to stage eight winner Nans Peters, the first French rider to capture a stage in this year’s Tour de France, who arrived 47 seconds in front after the final descent off the Col de Peyresourde into Loudenvielle, following 141km of riding over three substantial climbs - only it won’t have gone unnoticed by Sagan or his team Bora-hansgrohe.

Britain’s Adam Yates survived several challenges to his yellow jersey up and down the Col de Peyresourde, including from another AG2R La Mondiale rider Romain Bardet, but rode calmly and confidently enough to hold on by three seconds.

After conceding 21 points to Sagan on Friday’s stage seven, missing the breakaway where the extra points were gained, Bennett made certain he finished in front this time. By the time of the intermediate sprint at Sengouagnet, after 42.5km, 13 riders had already broken away, including Peters, with Jérôme Cousin leading them through, although Sagan launched the first sprint from the peloton, Bennett got past him to take the two remaining points in 14th, while Sagan finished out of the points completely.

They may only be psychological for now - the gain of just two points meaning Bennett of Deceuninck-Quick Step now trails Sagan by only seven, 138 to 131, with Wout van Aert from Jumbo-Visma next best with 106. It was incidentally the 129th time in his career that Sagan won or defended the green jersey, the Slovak rider also winning outright seven times. This will be a battle yet.

Stage 8 took in three major climbs in all, the Col de Menté followed by the Port de Balès and the Col de Peyresourde, and took out several riders out of the chase for the yellow jersey, most fatally perhaps French hope Thibaut Pinot, though his countrymen Julian Alaphilippe struggled on the Col de Peyresourde also.

Nicholas Roche and Dan Martin crossed the line together, the Team Sunweb rider in 88th, and Martin from Israel Start-up Nation in 89, both 25 minutes and 23 seconds behind, which did little to change their general classification. Bennett finished in the very last group, in 164th, 32:39 behind, again saving his energy for the last of the flat days. Roche is currently 61st (+46:46), Martin is 74th (+59:53), and Bennett 149th (+1:59:39).

Sunday’s Stage 9, the 154km from Pau to Laruns, features several more climbs including the Col de Marie-Blanque, and after Monday’s rest day, Bennett and Sagan are likely to go to war again on Stage 10, from Île d’Oléron to Île de Ré, one of the last properly flat stages before the finish in Paris just under two weeks later.

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