Tour de France stage ends in impossibly close photo finish

Young Frenchman Lilian Calmejane took victory on the eighth stage on the Tour de France on Saturday after a solo break on the final climb.

Porte knows about that as he was one of Froome's team-mates for both those overall victories in 2013 and 2015, before battling against his good friend previous year following his move to BMC.

Dutchman Robert Geesink was second while Chris Froome retained his overall lead after the group of favourites finished together 50 seconds behind the victor.

Thomas crashed but he was quickly back on his bike. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) +12s 3.

The corner "sprang up on us a little bit", Froome said.

"One minute everything is going well, the next you're in the ditch with your team-mate over the barrier lying next to you".

"I'm amazed. I attacked with three kilometres to go and gave it everything", he said. "It would have been so sad to lose the stage like that".

But Direct-Energie's Calmejane got going again to win by 37 seconds from the LottoNL-Jumbo rider.

Robert Gesink and Guillaume Martin were second and third on the stage respectively.

Marcel Kittel
Aru signals Tour ambitions as Froome takes yellow

Kittel is also bidding for a tilt at winning the green jersey for the first time this year as he closed the gap to leader Demare to 27 points - there are 50 points available to stage winners every day.

"I had no clue if I won or not on the finish line", said Kittel.

"It was everything I was dreaming of".

The stage was raced at a furious pace and under searing summer heat, sapping energy ahead of Sunday's monstrous stage.

However, seven years ago, the Welshman faded badly on the climb, dropping to 31st. Three are "hors categorie", or defying classification.

"That was a tough day", he said. "Some riders will win time, others will lose it".

At the end of it all, Team Sky's Froome remains in yellow.

They held on for nearly 2km more but with 4km to ride, it was over and now all down to the overall contenders. I'm not surprised to see Edvald (Boasson Hagen) up there, he's in good shape and very strong, which we could already notice in Troyes.

Italian champion Aru launched a blistering attack in the final stretches of the fifth stage, jumping away from the leading group with 2.3km left of the 5.9km climb at a lung-busting average gradient of 8.5 per cent. But that could all change on Sunday.

  • Angelo Rivera