Julian Alaphilippe leads Tour de France again as Geraint Thomas has scare

Thomas De Gendt of Belgium and Team Lotto Soudal celebrates his stage win

Thomas De Gendt of Belgium and Team Lotto Soudal celebrates his stage win

Belgium's Thomas De Gendt has won stage 8 of the Tour de France after a solo breakaway, but the cheers were louder in St Etienne as home hero Julian Alaphilippe moved back into the race lead.

Since achieving a third-place finish in 2014, Pinot has always struggled at his home race, and skipped it past year.

A spectacular rider with an aggressive style, Alaphilippe is, however, limited in mountains and has no real hope of keeping the jersey to the end. Our goal was to come to the Tour for winning a stage.

Two days after losing the overall lead to Italy's Giulio Ciccone, Alaphilippe regained the yellow jersey.

But Alaphilippe was able to take back the yellow jersey ahead of the country's Bastille Day celebrations. The Belgian went on to cross the finish line first in Saint-Etienne. He was the only rider able to follow Alaphilippe's brutal attack in the last climb with about 13 kilometres left.

"There is pressure obviously but the biggest pressure is the one I put on myself", said Pinot, who abandoned the race in 2016 and 2017 and did not take part previous year after failing to fully recover from a bout of pneumonia sustained near the end of the Giro d'Italia.

"We nearly crashed in a few corners because we were taking some risks".

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"By the time I got up to the group I was gassed for a bit and obviously that's when they started to sprint away", said Thomas.

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.

Echoing former teammate Porte, Thomas highlighted the threat that the French pair pose heading into the second week.

"I was ready for Julian's attack since last night and all day I was waiting for it because I had great legs", said Pinot, who like Milan-San Remo champion Alaphilippe holds a "Monument" classic title as he won the Giro Di Lombardia last October. "I realized how important this race is for a French rider", he said. Woods later rode in with torn shorts. De Gendt sniffed a chance on the Cote de la Jailliere and took it. Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) +0:26 5. "Since I've done that I'm more relaxed".

"Full respect to the team again for giving it a shot and I'm happy with the legs today."

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.

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