Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s Serge Pauwels showed great shape on stage 8 of Tour de France. Pauwels put in one attack after the other and was in the mix for the stage win up until the very end.
After two days for the sprinters, every rider in the peloton knew that today’s hilly stage was a good opportunity for a break to make it all the way. Countless attacks occurred in the opening kilometers and it took over an hour of racing before a huge group of riders finally got away. No less than 50 riders ended up at the front, amongst them Pauwels who had been very attentive the whole day. The strong Belgian was eying a chance to take the yellow jersey as he was only two minutes behind Chris Froome (Team Sky) in the general classification.
As the riders started on the categorized climbs, the break began to split up. Pauwels followed all the dangerous moves at the front and he was never out of contention. On the last climb of the day, only a handful of riders were left at the front. Pauwels put up a big fight but on the final kilometers of the climb, he had to let go and see Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) solo away. The Frenchman held on to take the win, while Pauwels finished 50 seconds down as he was caught by the group of overall favorites on the final part of the stage. Froome is still leading the race, while Pauwels moved up to 18th place overall.
”I’m happy with my performance. I wanted to be in the break, hoping to take the yellow jersey as I thought Team Sky would let the breakaway go. However, with such a big group of 50 riders, we never really got a big advantage. I kept going, hoping that at one point they would stop chasing behind. I had tried so hard and for so long that it would be stupid just to give up. At the end, I got the same time as if I had stayed with the favorites but I still prefer my way of racing. One day it will pay off”.