John Degenkolb claims maiden stage win at the Tour de France

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John Degenkolb enjoyed his first career Tour stage win but the real action was taking place behind, where the goal for those aiming to be in yellow by Paris was simple: survive. "We were on it all day from kilometre zero; it was three and half hours at full gas", he explained.

"Obviously I'm devastated", said Porte.

Sunday's Stage 9 will take riders over 15 cobbled paths scattered along 21.7 kilometers of the 156.5-kilometer course from Arras to Roubaix, near the Belgian border.

His deficit to yellow grew to one minute 42 seconds as Greg Van Avermaet finished second to Degenkolb on the day, two parts of a trio 27 seconds ahead of Froome's group. - Peter the Great - There are two teams who have an obvious chance of winning the Arras-Roubaix stage who do not have a leader to protect, and they are Bora-Hansgrohe with Peter Sagan and Quick-Step with Niki Terpstra, Bob Jungels and Philippe Gilbert, none of whom would be a surprise victor.

Gaviria was involved in the bunch sprint finish of today's section of the 2018 Tour.

The only incident to interrupt the leg was a pile-up with just under 20K to go.

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"A lot of people didn't believe in me anymore and thought I wouldn't come back to the same level anymore. This isn't the bonus I was thinking of but it happens". "I stayed relaxed and composed, made sure I ate and drank before the cobbled sections and hung back when I needed to, knowing that the team would help me pick my way back to the front when the time was right".

"It's pure happiness. It's really hard to describe the feeling", a teary-eyed Degenkolb, who is participating in his sixth Tour de France, said afterwards.

The 25-year-old Dutch rider won his second consecutive stage on Saturday, joining world champion Peter Sagan and Tour newcomer Fernando Gaviria as two-stage winners at this edition of the world's leading cycling race. "I'm a Classics rider and a specialist and I love the cobbles".

Four-time victor Chris Froome saw his 2014 Tour ended on a similar cobbled stage - though he never even made it to the first sector that year - and the Team Sky rider expects a major shake-up of the general classification. "When I saw these crashes I was on the brakes more often than usual because I just didn't want to end up somewhere in a hospital in France".

"It could go either way tomorrow", he said.

"The team around us is such a capable group of guys, and we're really going to be coming into our element now in the mountains".

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