However, with 15km to go on Saturday, Alaphilippe and Pinot combined to drop the peloton in a desperate bid to get back the yellow jersey and for Pinot to take time in the overall on his title rivals.
Thomas de Gendt on Saturday won the eighth stage of the Tour de France with a trademark solo breakaway, as France's Julian Alaphilippe thrillingly won back the yellow jersey on the eve of the Bastille Day national holiday. He was the only rider able to follow Alaphilippe's brutal attack in the last climb with about 13 kilometres left.
While Alaphilippe and Pinot will be a little disappointed to have fallen just a couple of hundred metres short of winning the stage, both will find much to console them.
Without wishing to sound like the Tour is a broken record, you'd be well advised to stick a quid on either Thomas De Gendt or Julian Alaphilippe. This time, he said he was taken out by Michael Woods when the Canadian rider crashed going around a right-hand bend.
As their country prepares to celebrate Bastille Day, Alaphilippe and Thibaut Pinot were in the mood for fireworks a day in advance.
With bonus seconds at play at the summit of the final categorized climb, the Cote de la Jaillere, Alaphilippe surged from a small pack of favorites near the top, with Pinot on his wheel. "This is the bike racing I love".
French duo Alaphilippe and Thibaut Pinot, from rival teams, appeared to work together on the closing section of the last of seven climbs, which will not have escaped the French public.
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It allowed them to fine-tune their team trialing and they got their reward in the second stage when they lost only 12 seconds to Team Ineos.
"I've been working hard for that, but it goes beyond my hopes", Alaphilippe said.
"My career goal was to win the Lombardia and stages on all three grands tours".
"It's annoying, but at the same time, to come back like I did shows I had good legs. Since I've done that I'm more relaxed", he said.
Belgium's De Gendt rode in front most of the day and finished the 200-kilometre (124.3 miles) trek from Macon to Saint-Etienne six seconds ahead of Frenchmen Thibaut Pinot and Alaphilippe. Then with 16km of the stage remaining he was unable to get out of the way of a crash caused by his team mate Gianni Moscon coming into contact with Michael Woods (EF Education First).
"Jumbo-Visma's George Bennett retains fourth place, 70 seconds off the pace, with Thomas" deficit in fifth now 72 seconds. Moscon's bike was busted into two piece by the impact.
Starting from Saint-Etienne, Sunday's ninth stage will cover 170.5km en route to Brioude.