Champion Tadej Pogacar stated on Saturday he fears Covid-19 might wreak havoc on this 12 months’s Tour de France after the Slovenian tightened his grip on the chief’s yellow jersey after stage eight.
Belgian rider Wout van Aert sprinted to victory within the coronavirus-hit proceedings at Lausanne with Pogacar ending third.
The peloton left Dole within the Jura area below a cloud after Norwegian Vegard Stake Laengen from Pogacar’s UAE Staff Emirates and Frenchman Geoffrey Bouchard of AG2R Citroen examined constructive for the virus and had been withdrawn.
“It is a huge scare, the pandemic remains to be there with us, and we will not danger racing with it,” stated the 23-year-old two-time defending champion.
“We get examined each two days or so however Vegard acquired unwell in the course of the night time, actually, it is worrying. All of the followers packed tight on the roadside and shouting, typically you suppose perhaps this can be a supply.
“He is the practice of our group,” the Slovenian continued of Stake Laengen.
“The large man who leads us out, however I feel we will make it to Paris with out him.”
Jumbo-Visma’s van Aert gained on a late incline forward of Australia’s pre-stage favorite Michael Matthews with Pogacar simply behind.
This was a second stage win for van Aert, who additionally got here second 3 times in the course of the opening phases in Denmark, and extends his lead within the dash standings to 264pts forward of Fast-Step Alpha Vinyl’s Fabio Jakobsen on 149 and Pogacar, 128.
Van Aert’s chief rival Mathieu van der Poel fell off the again of the peloton earlier than the assault.
“It might have been extra prestigious to beat Mathieu too, however I can solely beat who’s there,” stated van Aert, who alongside Pogacar is the massive star of this 2022 Tour de France.
Taking a seat Pogacar had simply vacated van Aert rigorously drenched his arms in sanitary gel, simply stopping in need of smearing it on his face.
“It is by no means straightforward to win a motorcycle race, and by no means straightforward to win a Tour de France stage, I must discover a strategy to thank my group for serving to me at the moment,” he stated.
Pogacar additionally took a four-second bonus for his third place and extends his general lead on Jumbo’s Dane Jonas Vingegaard on the high of the rankings to 39 seconds.
After the Covid withdrawals, cowbell ringing roadside followers cheered the pack alongside the best way to the Swiss border the place they caught a glimpse of what’s to return with the Alps rearing into view on the horizon.
An early fall caught Pogacar and third-placed Geraint Thomas, whereas French climber Thibaut Pinot not solely fell twice but in addition took a smack on the nostril when a roadside meals bag distributor acquired issues badly incorrect.
Denmark’s Magnus Cort Nielsen of EF Training-Straightforward Put up will trip stage 9 within the polka dot jersey once more whereas Tom Pidcock of Ineos will put on the white under-26’s jersey albeit as second positioned man behind Pogacar.
Sunday’s ninth stage runs from Aigle to Chatel les Portes du Soleil, an Alpine resort on the French-Swiss border, with extra 40km of climbing on the 192km itinerary.
It reaches a excessive level of 1,778m on the Col de la Croix summit whereas a 15km, six p.c, gradient problem up the Pas de Morgins awaits any drained legs earlier than the Tour re-enters France for the ultimate 10km.