Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-Big Mat) has won the eighth stage of the 2012 Tour de France.
The Frenchman, at 22 the youngest rider in the race, held off an elite chasing group to take the victory at the end of the mountainous 157.5km stage from Belfort to Porrentruy.
Behind him, Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) attacked from the front of the group of the maillot jaune, but was caught and passed by Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), whose own attack was hauled back by race leader, Bradley Wiggins.
Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek), a survivor from an earlier attack, split the pair, but the Londoner had seemingly scored an important psychological victory by reeling in his closest rival.
The stage began with an attack from the veteran, Jens Voight (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek). Subsequent attacks came and went, but with 60km to go, Frederik Kessiakoff (Astana) launched himself clear in a move that looked like it might stick.
The Swede, however, was caught by Pinot at the summit of the last of seven climbs on the stage: the 798 metre, first category, Col de la Croix.
The Frenchman then soloed doggedly to the town of Porrentruy, some 14km away, roared on from the team car by his directeur sportif, Marc Madiot.
Behind him, an acceleration from Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol) near the summit of the Col de la Croix created an elite selection that included Wiggins, Evans, Chris Froome (Team Sky), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannodale), Van Den Broeck, Denis Menchov (Katusha) and three RadioShack-Nissan-Trek riders: Frank Schleck, Haimar Zubeldia, and Chris Horner.
Nibali gave another demonstration of the superb descending skills exhibited at Milan-San Remo and Liege Bastogne Liege, but was followed by all members of the group of the maillot jaune, who drove relentlessly in pursuit of Pinot.
The Frenchman held a slender 30-second advantage as he passed under the 1km to go kite, but refused to buckle and held on for the win.
Stage eight – result
1) Thibaut Pinot (FRA) – FDJ-Big Mat – 3:56:10
2) Cadel Evans (AUS) – BMC Racing +26”
3) Tony Gallopin (FRA) – RadioShack-Nissan-Trek +26”
4) Bradley Wiggins (GBR) – Team Sky +26”
5) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Liquigas-Cannondale +26”
6) Jurgen Van Den Broeck (BEL) – Lotto Belisol
7 Christopher Froome (GBR) – Team Sky
8) Denis Menchov (RUS) – Katusha
9) Haimar Zubeldia (SPA) – RadioShack-Nissan-Trek
10) Frank Schleck (LUX) RadioShack-Nissan-Trek +30”
1) Bradley Wiggins (GBR) – Team Sky – 38:17:56
2) Cadel Evans (AUS) – BMC Racing +10”
3 Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Liquigas-Cannondale +16
4) Denis Menchov (RUS) – Katusha +54”
5) Haimar Zubeldia (SPA) – RadioShack-Nissan-Trek +59”
6) Christopher Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +1.32
7) Maxime Monfort (BEL) – RadioShack-Nissan-Trek +2.08
8) Jurgen Van Den Broeck (BEL) – Lotto-Belisol +2.11
9) Nicolas Roche (IRL) – AG2R-La Mondiale +2.21
10) Rein Taaramae (EST) – Cofidis, Le Credit-En Ligne +2.27