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Enfin un Francais!’ – ‘At last a Frenchman!’ said the caption on French EuroSport. And a highly deserving one – Blel Kadri won in the grand manner; in the break for most of the day; dissolving the partnership with his companions when they were no longer of any use to him then holding off the maillot jaune group to win ‘en seule’.

In solitary splendour.

But not just the stage win; that lovely polka dot jersey too – and kisses from those charming ladies who present the maillot a pois.

It’s the biggest day of the AG2R man Kadri’s career by a long ways.

Blel Kadri
Blel Kadri takes over the lead in the Mountains classification. Photo©B.Bade/ASO

The 27 year-old from Bordeaux was stagier with the team in 2008; having taken a stage in the tough U23 Ronde de L’Isard stage race and won the Kreiz Breizh stage race overall in Brittany.

A race which has seen the likes of up and coming Dutch sprinter, Moreno Hofland and Estonian hard man Rein Taaramae grace the podium.

In 2009 Kadri was third in the sought-after GP Plumelec; then won a stage in the Route du Sud in 2010. The 2011 season saw him top ten in the Tour Down Under and runner up in the Circuit de la Sarthe; whilst 2012 was when he took the King of the Mountains title in the Route du Sud and was runner-up in the same competition to Cannondale’s Colombian Tunarossa at the Dauphine. Season 2013 saw him take his biggest win before today – the Giro del Lazio (Roma Maxima? Please!).

There’ll be Saturday night Champagne for AG2R – a team which is no longer one to be laughed off as a makeweight in suicide breaks.

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Kadri is congratulated by his pal Jean-Marc Merino. Photo©B.Bade/ASO

When we stand back and look at the bigger picture…

A good day for Nibali; with two caveats – he was isolated in the finale and did look a little frayed around the edges, despite conceding only three seconds to Contador who’s now sixth (up from 16th) @ 2:34.

And a landmark day for Italy as Vincenzo still wears the maillot jaune and becomes the 17th coureur from the land of Garibaldi to wear it – for the 200th day.

Molto bene.

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Vincenzo Nibali marked all the riders he had to, particularly Contador. Photo©B.Bade/ASO

If Nibali was lonely then Bert however was not – with both Roche and Rogers there for him until late in the day and Majka also in the equation earlier – and the Spaniard looked in better shape than Nibali.

  • Nibali’s closest rival is still team mate Fuglsang @ 1:44
  • Richie Porte moves up from 7th to 3rd @ 1:58
  • Kwiatkowski stays 4th @ 2:26
  • Valverde moves up from 9th to 5th @ 2:27
  • Contador is 6th @ 2:34
  • Bardet moves up from 10th to 7th @ 2:39
  • Costa moves into the top ten in 8th from 11th @ 2:52
  • Mollema likewise from 14th to 9th @ 3:02
  • Van Den Broeck shores up the top ten after a disappointing drop from 5th, also @ 3:02

A state of play which means there are now zero surprise packages in the top ten.

That top ten lost Sagan, Gallopin – those two perhaps not surprising given the terrain – and also Dauphine winner, Talansky who crashed again, today with no Simon Gerrans to blame…

Blel Kadri
Thibaut Pinot and Jean-Christophe Péraud finished 5th and 6th. Photo©B.Bade/ASO

Of those not in the top 10, it was a better day for F des J Frenchman, Thibaut Pinot who rode well and now sits in 11th spot after staying within seconds of Contador and Nibali at the finish.

Tejay van Garderen kept his head today and lies 13th – not allowing his recent encounters with the tar to sap his morale.

Blel Kadri
Tejay van Garderen. Photo©B.Bade/ASO

On the subject of encounters with the tar – more bad news for VDB who lost right hand man, Bart de Clerq to pain from a crash earlier in the week.

And there’s the ‘D’ word, again – much as it depresses us, there’s no escaping it.

Old Denis Menchov is the man making the headlines. The Russian was top three on the UCI ‘Pick of the Pops’ list of those ‘most likely to be dabbling’ a year or two ago.

Blel Kadri
That UCI list, leaked a couple of years ago.

We’ll name no names and make no further comment but it does make interesting reading, we think – we reproduce it here for your delight and delectation – and no death threats, please, we’re only reproducing it…

Our pundit, Ivan isn’t usually wrong about much – but his prediction that Media coverage of the Tour would evaporate with Cav and Froome’s exit hasn’t come to pass with The Observer giving the race two full pages on Sunday.

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The Observer’s coverage. Photo©Ed Hood

There’s a race report, an interview with the only Englishman in the race – the highly promising Simon Yates (or Ya-Tezz as the French say), opinion from Robert Millar and a big colour picture of Chava and Co. splashing through the Stage Eight murk.

But for all the chat about how much we’ve embraced cycling as a nation, I can’t help but think about the gentleman who recently nearly took me out as I pedalled up Leith Walk; ‘yeah, I cut across you and then pulled in and stopped – so what?

The next couple of days in the Vosges promise much; especially Monday’s grind to Planche des Belles Filles where Sky rammed home their superiority two years ago – changed days.

And last words go to Cannondale’s Italian fast man, Elia Viviani;

“You can tell it’s the biggest race in the world.

“At the Giro, when you know it’s going to be a sprint, you take it easy in the first 100 kilometres.

“It doesn’t happen on the Tour. It’s full gas all day.”

A demain.