GERARDMER, France – Blel Kadri, a French rider who is frequently assigned by his AG2R La Mondiale team to join early and generally unsuccessful breakaways, was rewarded for his efforts Saturday when the Tour de France made its way to the Vosges mountains.
A member of the day’s early break, Kadri finished by himself at the Mauselaine ski resort here during the eighth stage, which set a low for bad weather in a Tour that has already had too much of it.
The final climb to the finish was short — a bit more than a mile — but brutal, with its grade reaching 16 percent at one point. As Kadri rolled to the line with a lead of 2 minutes, 17 seconds, Tinkoff-Saxo rider Alberto Contador, a two-time champion from Spain, used the steep pitch to test the legs of Vincenzo Nibali of Italy, the overall leader. Contador gapped Nibali briefly and gained three seconds on him at the line, finishing second for the day.
Nibali placed third and has an overall lead of 1 minute, 44 seconds over Jakob Fuglsang, a Danish rider who is an Astana teammate.
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Contador is sixth, 2:34 behind Nibali.
Afterward, Nibali blamed his selection of the wrong gear during the final part of the climb for Contador’s escape.
“Today’s finish is not a finish made for me,” Nibali said at a news conference. “I don’t like the steep grades.”
Contador said when he attacked Nibali, he mistakenly thought he might win the stage, which started in Tomblaine and covered a relatively short 100 miles.
“I didn’t know if there was someone in front, whether I was riding for the stage win or not, so I accelerated,” he said.
Richie Porte of Australia, a contender for the overall title who took over Team Sky after Chris Froome’s abandonment because of injuries, was fourth in the stage, four seconds behind Nibali.
Along the route of Friday’s stage, a sign handwritten in English and placed outside a house read: “Sorry 4 The Weather. It’s Not My Fault.”
There was even more to apologize for Saturday. The race passed through an electrical storm, falling temperatures and heavy downpours.
Andrew Talansky, the U.S. leader of the Garmin-Sharp team, was one of the storm’s victims. Following up on his dramatic crash at the finish line in Nancy on Friday, he crashed with a number of riders, apparently on a slippery curve.