A small breakaway that started early in the race between 2 and 5 km included Thierry Hupond (SKS), Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ), Samuel Dumoulin (COF), and Mikhail Ignatiev (KAT) who has not been pulling much among the other three French riders.
That group started out ahead of the peleton by more than 3 minutes, but even though it's been a relatively relaxed race so far, the peleton has been narrowing the gap. With 26 miles to go to the finishh, the leaders are only one minute and 38 seconds ahead, and unlikely to stay ahead and practically guaranteeing a sprint finish. But if they do stay ahead, a French man could be the winner on Bastille Day.
And here's a tidbit should put a smile on most faces in France: the Bbox Bouygues Telecom team has won more prize money so far than any other squad so far in the 2009 Tour.
Voeckler and Fedrigo each won a two stage gaining 31,650 euros--about $50,000. Not bad for a couple of days work.
The other team with two stage wins – Columbia-HTC (Cavendish) is the next best earner with 28,460 euros. They are followed by Astana (23,200 euro), Liquigas (22,000 euros) and Caisse d’Epargne (20,360 euros).
Nine riders have abandoned the Tour de France, with 171 riders still in the race.
Those who have left include, Sebastien Joly (FDJ), during stage seven and David Le Lay (AGR) in stage 8; Oscar Pereiro (GCE) and Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez (AGR) both from Spain left during stage eight and Koldo Fernandez (EUS) finished outside the time limit in stage eight. From Italy, Daniel Napolitano (KAT) finished outside the time limit in stage eight, and Belgian rider, Jurgen van de Waelle (QSI) abandoned after breaking a collarbone in a crash in stage two. Piet Rooijakkers abandoned after a crash in stage four and Robert Gesink fractured a bone in his left arm in a fall in stage five. Both are from the Netherlands.