Tony Martin surprised the skeptics today, after defending his yellow jersey with a 7th place finish during today’s mountainous stage 8 of the Tour de Suisse.
Meanwhile, Esteban Chaves claimed the stage after escaping on the final ascent of today’s 219.1 kilometer stage from Delémont to Verbier – ahead of Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Bauke Mollema (Belkin).
Today’s stage was the longest of this year’s Tour, which concluded with the two challenging final climbs.
As the race headed into the final 30 kilometers, a breakaway group containing Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar); Christian Knees (Sky); Danilo Wyss (BMC Racing); Laurens De Vreese (Wanty-Groupe Gobert); Sébastien Minard (Ag2r La Mondiale); Gregory Rast (Trek Factory Racing); Nathan Brown (Garmin-Sharp); and Mateusz Taciak (CCC Polsat Polkowice), had established a 4 minute lead over the peloton.
However, a further 10 kilometers later, the escapees advantage had been reduced to 3 minutes – while Lampre-Merida and Tinkoff-Saxo led the chase.
Rast was the first escapee to be dropped from the breakaway group, while Wyss and Rojas initiated an attack during the remaining 14 kilometers.
From there, Giant-Shimano came to the front, and took over the pace setting of the chase group.
Both De Vreese and Knees succeeded in rejoining their fellow escapees Wyss and Rojas at the front. However, neither rider was able to ride clear.
Brown subsequently tried the same – briefly escaping with Wyss. However, only Wyss was able to remain out front alone, as the race approached the base of the final climb.
With 7.4 kilometers remaining, Bjorn Thurau (Europcar) emerged from the chase group to try and ride clear. Meanwhile, the lingering members of the breakaway got absorbed one-by-one.
As the race entered into the final 6 kilometers, Robert Thomson MTB-Qhubeka) was next to attack the peloton – quickly bridging himself to Thurau.
In the meantime, Wyss continued to remain out front. However, Thompson and Thurau were fast on his heels, at only 20 seconds back, while the main field was still over a half-minute down.
As the race entered into the final 4 kilometers, Wyss, Thompson and Thurau were all reeled in, while Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin) took the front with Martin right behind him.
At that point, the head of the peloton saw Matthias Frank attempt an attack of his own – but to no avail. Then Kreuziger took charge, setting a fast pace up the final climb – only to see Chaves escape along with Davide Formolo (Cannondale).
Formolo unfortunately could not match the pace of Chaves, so the chase fell back to Kreuziger and Mollema.
As the race headed into the final kilometer, Chaves succeeded in staying outside the reach of the chase, while Kreuziger and Mollema crossed the finish in second and third place.
Martin crossed the line 17 seconds later in seventh place, thus maintaining his grip on the overall race lead.
Dumoulin now sits 51 seconds behind the leader, with Costa in third spot at 1:05 back.
The Tour de Suisse concludes tomorrow, with a hilly 156.5 kilometer stage from Martigny and Saas-Fee.
Stage 8 Results COL 1 CHAVES RUBIO, Jhoan Esteban (ORICA GreenEDGE) 5:11:16 CZE 2 KREUZIGER, Roman (TINKOFF-SAXO) + 3 NED 3 MOLLEMA, Bauke (BELKIN) ITA 4 CAPECCHI, Eros (MOVISTAR) + 16 COL 5 ACEVEDO COLLE, Javier Alexis (GARMIN SHARP) IRL 6 DEIGNAN, Philip (SKY) GER 7 MARTIN, Tony (OMEGA PHARMA – QUICK-STEP) ITA 8 FORMOLO, Davide (CANNONDALE) POR 9 FARIA DA COSTA, Rui Alberto (LAMPRE – MERIDA) SUI 10 FRANK, Mathias (IAM CYCLING)
General Classification after Stage 8 GER 1 MARTIN, Tony (OMEGA PHARMA – QUICK-STEP) 28:54:16 NED 2 DUMOULIN, Tom (GIANT-SHIMANO) + 51 POR 3 FARIA DA COSTA, Rui Alberto (LAMPRE – MERIDA) + 1:05 SUI 4 FRANK, Mathias (IAM CYCLING) + 1:14 NED 5 MOLLEMA, Bauke (BELKIN) + 1:41 ITA 6 FORMOLO, Davide (CANNONDALE) + 1:47 CZE 7 KREUZIGER, Roman (TINKOFF-SAXO) + 1:50 COL 8 ACEVEDO COLLE, Javier Alexis (GARMIN SHARP) + 2:07 ITA 9 CAPECCHI, Eros (MOVISTAR) + 2:29 AUS 10 EVANS, Cadel (BMC RACING) + 2:30
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