Undated (AP) _ MORZINE-AVORIAZ, France (AP) - Italian Maria Canins won the eighth stage of the women's Tour de France cycling race, a gruelling mountain section, and became the overall leader of the event Tuesday.

The 34-mile leg from Chatel to Morzine-Avoriaz was marked by rough climbs, and Canins, noted as a climber, was able to prove her strength on the mountains.

France's Jeannie Longo, who held the overall lead, fought with the Italian throughout the race. Three miles from the finish, Canins outdistanced Longo to win the leg in 1 hour, 46 minutes, 43 seconds. Longo was timed in 1:49:33.

Third was American Carol Rogers-Dunning, 1:51:36 behind the leader. Janelle Parks of the United States finished seventh 6:22 off the pace and countrywoman Phyllis Hines was ninth, 6:42 behind Canins.

Canins leads the overall standings with 16:23:36, while Longo fell to second, 1:52 behind.

Parks is sixth overall, 8:28 off the pace, and Hines is seventh, 8:53 behind the leader.