Nicolas Roche came up just short of securing a Tour de France stage win as France's Lilian Calmejane won the eighth stage, a mountainous 187.5km trek from Dole to Station de Rousses on Saturday.

Calmejane was in an eight-man breakaway group with Ireland's Roche when he broke for home on his own and he was able to stay out in front despite cramping near the end. Roche eventually finished fourth.

And Roche revealed afterwards that his main reason for going with the breakaway was a team tactic rather than attempting to win the stage.

Speaking after today's stage, Roche said: "The race went bananas and there was a group of 45 riders so we had to have numbers there as we didn’t want to get caught like we did in the Dauphine.

"We learned there that it is easier to have riders drop back than try and bridge across. So we tried to ride aggressively and keep the race going.

"I rode as aggressively as I could. I had to stop thinking that I was in the Tour and there are still two weeks to go. I was saying ‘alright, whatever happens today, happens and think about tomorrow, tonight."

And the Team BMC rider added that the stage win was still in the back of his mind had the opportunity arisen at the end of the stage. 

"I went really deep," said Roche. "Once I was up in that group there was two possibilities; one, I really wanted to make it to the top in case Richie was isolated from the chasing group and two; in the case that we arrive, I would give it a go. I really gave it everything."

French Direct Energie rider Calmejane looked to be cruising to victory, but in the final kilometres he cramped on his bike and almost came to a standstill before eventually finding his rhythm again.

Chris Froome of Team Sky retained the overall leader's yellow jersey, finishing alongside Ireland's Dan Martin, who stays fourth overall, safely in the pack.

Robert Gesink and Guillaume Martin were second and third on the stage respectively. Calmejane fell straight off his bike at the finishing line and was treated for his cramping legs.

Nicholas Roche

Roche jumps two paces from 21st to 19th thanks to his efforts on Saturday and is now 2:14 down on leader Froome, though his main job is to work for Team BMC leader Richie Porte, who is in fifth and 39 seconds off the yellow jersey.

Roche's first cousin Martin is fourth, 25 seconds down. Gearraint Thomas remains second and King of the Mountains Fabio Aru is third, 12 and 14 seconds down respectively.