Sanchez Wins Stage 8; Nocentini Wears Yellow
Caisse d’Epargne’s Luis Leon Sanchez won Saturday’s second day in the Pyrenees, a 176-km romp from Andora back into France for the start of the race’s second week.
Sanchez was part of a nearly day-long break that shook down to just four men rolling into Saint Girons. He smartly monitored a late attack by Ag2r’s Vladimir Efimkin and benefited from Sandy Casar’s too-early jump to take a solid win less than two minutes ahead of the main field.
All the overall favorites finished together, and Rinaldo Nocentini held his overall lead with the implicit blessing of Astana, which controlled the field much of the day, allowing a break of non-GC contenders to form. Nocentini’s French team, Ag2r, contributed a bit to the chase and paced the leader back to the main chase group when he had some difficulty on the category 1 Col d’Agnes climb.
“I began to struggle on the last climb but that’s normal a day after you’ve been in a 200km breakaway,” said Nocentini, the first Italian to wear the yellow jersey since Alberto Elli in 2000. It was only thanks to my team, and Stephane Goubert in particular, that I was able to get back to that group after he dragged me back up. He kept me in the yellow jersey."
The stage was held under ideal weather conditions and at a fast pace: the field exceeded estimated times throughout the day.