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Tour de France heads into mountains for Stage 8

By Jamey Keaten

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, July 12 2014 9:58 a.m. MDT

Spain's Alberto Contador, left, gestures when talking to Kazakhstan's Maxim Iglinskiy, right, during the ceremonial procession prior to the start of the eighth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 161 kilometers (100 miles) with start in Tomblaine and finish in Gerardmer, France, Saturday, July 12, 2014. Center rear in black is Australia's Richie Porte.

Laurent Cipriani, Associated Press

TOMBLAINE, France — The Tour de France left the flats of northern France on Saturday for three days of up-and-down riding in the Vosges mountains.

The 161-kilometer (100-mile) Stage 8 from Tomblaine to the Gerardmer La Mauselaine ski resort features a short but steep uphill finish that will test the legs of overall leader Vincenzo Nibali and his main challengers for the yellow jersey.

The Italian holds a two-second lead over Astana teammate Jakob Fuglsang. He is also two minutes, 37 seconds clear of two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador, the rider considered his main rival now that defending champion Chris Froome is out of the race.

Swiss rider Mathias Frank, the leader of the IAM Cycling team, did not start the eighth stage after fracturing his left femur in a crash in the last kilometer (half-mile) of Friday's race.

Frank, runner-up in the Tour de Suisse last month and the Criterium International in March, underwent surgery in Geneva on Saturday.

The toughest rides in the Vosges will come Monday when cyclists face seven ascents, including a tough uphill finish up to the storied ski resort La Planche des Belles Filles.

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