Alexis Vuillermoz won the eighth stage of the Tour de France on Saturday yesterday to become the first French rider to triumph this year. The 27-year-old former mountain biker escaped on the final 2km climb to the finish at Mur de Bretagne following a 181.5km stage from Rennes. Ireland’s Dan Martin timed his counter-attack a shade too late and came home second at five seconds 5sec with Spaniard Alejandro Valverde winning the sprint finish for third at 10 seconds. Today I’m thinking about him, he was a Tour de France fan and hopefully he is proud of me Alexis Vuillermoz Briton Chris Froome finished eighth, safely in the lead peloton to retain the overall leader’s yellow jersey by 11 seconds from Peter Sagan, who did at least take the green points jersey. American Tejay Van Garderen is third overall at 13 seconds. But reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali, of Italy, gave up a few seconds as he was dropped by the lead pack on the final climb, with its average gradient of 6.9 per cent. Vuillermoz paid tribute to his late father, who passed away three years ago, after posting his first career stage win at the Tour de France on Saturday after his victory. The 27-year-old rider from French outfit Ag2r, who made his breakthrough last year at the Giro d’Italia with an 11th-place finish in his second professional season, said his father passed away three years ago. “Today I’m thinking about him, he was a Tour de France fan and hopefully he is proud of me,” Vuillermoz said. Vuillermoz launched a bold counter-attack on the short but tough climb to Mur de Bretagne. to give France its maiden stage win at this year’s Tour. He Vuillermoz, a former mountain bike specialist, made his move after race leader Chris Froome accelerated at the front of the pack with one kilometre (0.6 miles) left, with defending champion Vincenzo Nibali losing 10 seconds on his main rivals in the punishing ascent. Vuillermoz said: “I had ticked the stages at Mur de Huy and Mur de Bretagne. After finishing third at Huy, today it was just about winning.” Vuillermoz confirmed the promise he’d shown on Monday’s third stage when he was third behind Joaquim Rodriguez and Froome on a similar finish at the Mur de Huy. The 27-year-old French rider showed how comfortable he was on such short, sharp uphill finishes, no doubt leaning on his strong mountain biking experience, having also taken sixth place at April’s Fleche Wallonne one-day classic, which likewise finishes on the Mur de Huy. It was a thrilling finish after a fairly pedestrian stage with a regulation breakaway that was reeled in 8km from the end. While the time gaps were minimal, Nibali will be concerned that he was dropped just three days away from the first mountain summit finish at La Pierre-Saint Martin with its beyond category climb measuring 15.3km at an average 7.4 per cent.