GERARDMER, France — In a solo breakaway, Blel Kadri gave France its first stage winner at the Tour de France in the entree to the Vosges mountains.
Also Saturday, Vincent Nibali extended his lead over his biggest rivals except two-time champion Alberto Contador, who sped ahead thinking he might win the stage and trying to test the response of the Italian in the yellow jersey.
Contador dueled with Nibali to capture second place at the uphill finish of a rainy 100-mile eighth stage from Tomblaine to Gerardmer La Mauselaine ski resort. Contador reduced his 2ƒ-minute deficit by only a few seconds.
“I wanted to see a bit how he was doing. It was a surprise for me to see that he stayed hooked onto me until the end,” Contador said, adding he felt good about the stage. He finished second in Saturday’s stage, more than 2:00 behind Kadri.
“I’m not explosive, but I held my own,” Nibali said.
Kadri emerged from a five-man breakaway that chiseled out a lead of as many as 11 minutes. None of the breakaway riders threatened Nibali: The highest-placed among them began the stage nearly 26ƒ minutes back.
“Today was my day,” Kadri said. “I’m really happy.”
American Andrew Talansky had trouble and lost time in the title chase. In the final ascent, he skidded off the wet road and fumbled — with help from a fan — to repair what seemed to be a problem with his bike. A race medical report said he had multiple contusions.
Talansky, the Garmin-Sharp team leader, finished more than 2:00 behind Nibali and Contador, and trailed the leader by 4:22 in 16th place. He started the day in eighth, 2:05 down.
Overall, Nibali led Astana teammate Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark in second by 1:44. Australia’s Richie Porte of Team Sky, fourth on Saturday, was 1:58 back in third. Spain’s Alejandro Valverde was fifth, 2:27 adrift, and Contador sixth, 2:34 back.
Riders face six ascents today on a 106-mile ride from Gerardmer to Mulhouse.