PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
T-Mobile's Serhiy Honchar will hold on to the Tour's yellow jersey at least until Tuesday evening after retaining it on Sunday's eighth stage between Saint-Meen-le-Grand and Lorient, with a rest day to come in Bordeaux on Monday. But the hero of the stage was Frenchman Sylvain Calzati who attacked his breakaway group with 32km to go to win solo.
The Ag2r rider was part of a six-man breakaway group, which escaped after 48km, made up of David Zabriskie (CSC), Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile), Mario Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto), Kjell Carlstrom (Liquigas) and Credit Agricole's Patrice Halgand.
Zabriskie had started the day in 10th overall, 2.03 down on Honchar, with Kessler in 11th overall with the same time. But Zabriskie made sure of his position as best-placed rider overall in the break, first winning the day's second intermediate sprint and with it a six-second bonus, and by taking second in the third sprint, and a further four seconds, putting him 10 seconds up on Kessler.
With Kessler in the break, T-Mobile were able to leave it up to Floyd Landis's Phonak team to chase down the break, which reached over seven minutes at one point, putting Zabriskie in the 'virtual maillot jaune' on the road.
The sprinters' teams seemed disinterested until the 130km mark when Francaise des Jeux came to the front, keen to give their sprinter Bernhard Eisel a chance.
With 32km left to go, Calzati found the pace of the breakaway group too slow for him, and attacked the group on a slight rise. Halgand attempted to follow, but ended up waiting for Carlstrom once he realised he wasn't going to catch the Ag2r rider. That left three groups on the road, chased by a Francaise des Jeux-led peloton.
While Aerts, Zabriskie and Kessler were swallowed up by the peloton, Calzati was fighting for the stage win up front, buoyed by the large French crowds, but chased by Halgand and Carlstrom.
But the Frenchman had done enough, celebrating his stage win by pulling out a photo of his two-year-old daughter and his wife, which he kissed as he crossed the line.
The remaining 170 riders of this year's Tour will transfer - on two flights - to Bordeaux ahead of a rest day on Monday. And Tour organisers ASO have assured them all that they will make it to their Bordeaux hotels in time for the World Cup final between France and Italy on Sunday night.
Stage 8: Saint-Meen-le-Grand - Lorient
1 Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Ag2r 181km in 4.13.18 (42.87kph)
2 Kjell Carlstrom (Fin) Liquigas 2.05
3 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Credit Agricole
4 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 2.15
5 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Lampre
6 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
7 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Francaise des Jeux
8 Luca Paolini (Ita) Liquigas
9 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step-Innergetic
10 David Kopp (Ger) Gerolsteiner
1 Serhiy Honchar (Ukr) T-Mobile 34.38.53
2 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 1.00
3 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile 1.08
4 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) T-Mobile 1.45
5 Marcus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner 1.50
6 Andreas Kloden (Ger) T-Mobile
7 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne 1.52
8 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
9 David Zabriskie (USA) CSC 1.53
10 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 2.00
Points: Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
Mountains: Jerome Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
Best young rider: Marcus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner