Weening and Klöden on the top of the Col de la Schlucht.
Weening and Klöden on the top of the Col de la Schlucht.

Rabobank’s Pieter Weening Snags Stage 8

Weening and Klöden on the top of the Col de la Schlucht.

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It was team Rabobank’s day to shine in Stage 8 of the Tour de France Saturday, with the team’s riders taking four of the five summits and the finish line, as the Tour got its first taste of the mountains.

Weening and Klöden on the top of the Col de la Schlucht. Weening and Klöden on the top of the Col de la Schlucht.

After a daredevil downhill race from the summit of the Tour’s first category two climb— which came just nine miles from the finish— Pieter Weening of Rabobank held off T-Mobile’s Andrée;as Klöden by the tread on his tire to take Stage 8.

Weening blew out of the peloton in a lone attack at the bottom of the incline, but Klöden caught the exhausted rider in orange in the final feet before the summit, setting the stage for a high-speed showdown into the village of Gerardmer.

Weening drafted off Kloden into the final straightaway, breaking out at the last second to thrust his bike across the line. According to the Tour de France’s official Web site, the margin of victory was just 0.0002 of a second.

Earlier in the stage, all four of the category three climbs were won by Robobank’s Mickael Rasmussen, who was among the day’s early attack group. The wins handed him the polka dot climber’s jersey as the Tour moves into the steepest terrain yet.

Six-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong stayed in his usual position near the front of the peloton, leaving it only briefly to foil a pair of attacks by T-Mobile’s Alexandre Vinokourov, one of the few “danger guys” Armstrong acknowledges could challenge him in Paris. Armstrong placed 20th on the day and it was good enough to keep him in the yellow jersey.

Armstrong admitted afterwards that his team didn’t have the best of days as he was forced to leave them behind.

“We just had a bad day as a team and that makes it that much harder, having to do it by yourself,” Armstrong told the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) after the race. “We have some talking to do tonight.”

Armstrong lost two seconds on the day to Jens Voigt of CSC, who trails the six-time champ by one minute in the overall standings. Discovery’s George Hincapie, second to Armstrong through much of the Tour so far, has fallen to eighth, now 1:47 behind the yellow jersey. Three Discovery riders have fallen out of the top ten.

Vinokourov and CSC’s Bobby Julich are close on Voigt’s heels 1:02 and 1:07 back respectively.

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