Pau (France), Sept. 5: Adam Yates fended off his general classification rivals to remain in the Tour de France yellow jersey after a stage eight won by Nans Peters.
Home hope Peters was the first over the line in the maiden mountain stage of the 2020 Tour, the second Frenchman to claim a stage win this year after Julian Alaphilippe's stage two victory.
However, it was a mixed day for the home riders as general classification hope Thibaut Pinot was dropped on the second climb of the day.
On a fascinating day in the fight for the yellow jersey, Mitchelton-Scott's Yates was able to retain his lead ahead of Primoz Roglic and Guillaume Martin.
Peters (AG2R La Mondiale) was out on his own having shaken off Ilnur Zakarin on the descent of the day's penultimate climb, and he won by 47 seconds from Toms Skujins and Carlos Verona.
Long before they completed the stage, Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) saw his race undone as the Tour entered the Pyrenees.
The 30-year-old, who started the day only 13 seconds behind Yates, appeared to be struggling with pain in his back as the race left him behind.
It had looked like Yates would relinquish the yellow jersey as various riders in the GC battle made breaks in the final 15 kilometres but he dug deep to keep his lead.
PINOT FADES ON PIVOTAL DAY
While Martin and Romain Bardet - currently third and fourth in the GC standings - very much remain alive, Pinot's hopes of entering Paris in yellow are virtually over.
France has not had a home winner of the Tour since Bernard Hinault in 1985 and Pinot had aspirations of ending that wait in a wide-open field.
Yet a crash in the opening stage appears to still be having an impact as he was left with a gap of almost 19 minutes to Yates.
His team manager Marc Madiot told Eurosport: "I still don't think that he's recovered from that crash on the first stage of the Tour.
"In the mountains, it's always difficult anyway. He's been struggling since the second stage and we really thought that he was feeling better.
"He just wasn't on the same level as he was on the Criterium du Dauphine."
1. Nans Peters (AG2R La Mondiale) 4:02:12 2. Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) +0:47 3. Carlos Verona (Movistar) +0:47 4. Ilnur Zakarin (CCC) +1:09 5. Neilson Powless (EE Pro Cycling) +1:41
1. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 34:44:52 2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +0:03 3. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +0:09
1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 138 2. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 131 3. Wout van Aert (Jumbo Visma) 106
King of the Mountains
1. Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) 35 2. Nans Peters (AG2R La Mondiale) 31 3. Ilnur Zakarin (CCC) 25
Stage nine is the second successive mountain stage, and the final day of riding before the first rest day. A 153km stage from Pau to Laruns, riders will race at altitude of over 1,500 metres at one point.
LIVE on EUROSPORT and EUROSPORT HD from 16:45 Hrs (04:45 pm IST) onwards on Sunday, 6th September 2020.