Poutugal's Rui Costa (Movistar Team) was part of a nine-man breakaway that took off early in Stage 8 in the 2011 Tour de France and then maintained the lead for the entirety of the 189 km from Aigurande to Super-Besse to earn the win on the Tour's first real day of climbs, including the category 2 trek up the Col de la Croix Saint-Robert.
Costa was able to hold off Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov, who eventually faded on the final climb to the finish line. Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) ending up in second place, while Cadel Evans (BMC) took third in Stage 8.
While Costa was certainly impressive, the ride of the day may have gone to Thor Hushovd, who surprised everyone by performing well enough to keep the Yellow Jersey. He maintains a one-second lead of Evans, and and four-second advantage of Frank Schleck.
The Stage 8 win caps a great year for Costa, writes Podium Cafe:
Costa, surviving from an early breakaway, saved enough energy in his legs to escape for good at the bottom of the day's final climb, and was never reeled in as he flew up the last 2km with chasers in sight. This caps off a remarkable 12 months in which he was attacked by a fellow rider after a Tour stage last year and was suspended for doping only to have the suspension lifted when he successfully proved that the source was a contaminated vitamin supplement. The victory is his second major result since returning to racing in April -- he won the Vuelta a la Communidad de Madrid -- and his first-ever major result at the Tour.
The Tour continues on Sunday with Stage 9, an up-and-down day if there ever was one. A total of eight categorized climbs are sure to destroy legs, especially the three category 2 ascents, highlighted by the first-eve climb of the Col du Perthus (4.4 km at a 7.9 % grade).