Thibaut Pinot, the youngest rider in the Tour de France, presented the French with their first stage victory in this year’s edition after winning the hilly 98-mile Belfort-Porrentruy eighth stage on Sunday.
The 22-year-old, born near Belfort, attacked in the last of seven climbs to cross the line on his own after the Tour crossed the mountainous French border into Switzerland.
Pinot finished 26 seconds ahead of a group that included a host of Tour favorites, leaving defending champion Cadel Evans in second place and Frenchman Tony Gallopin third.
The Frenchman held his nerve during the descent off Col de Croix which saw a chasing pack catching up with the leaders.
British rider Bradley Wiggins emerged as the leader of this second pack, seeing off a downhill pursuit from the dogged Italian Vincenzo Nibali as well as polka-dot jersey wearer Chris Froome.
Froome eventually gave up his polka dots to the Swedish rider Fredrik Kessiakoff, who starts Monday’s stage as King of the Mountains.
Wiggins’ fourth place was enough for him to retain the yellow jersey.
Today’s ninth stage, a 26-mile individual time trial between Arc-et-Senans and Besancon, is another key moment of the Tour, with Wiggins expected to tighten his grip on the yellow jersey.
Probably the fastest specialist in the world, the Briton was quick to downplay the importance of a day of trials: “So much fuss has been made about time trials.” he said.
“But the Tour de France is about being good every day.”