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69th Tour de Suisse - PT

Switzerland, June 11-19, 2005

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Stage 8 - June 18: Lenk - Verbierl, 162.2 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 15:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:30 CEST

15:07 CEST   
The best seat in the house
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
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Welcome one and all to Cyclingnews' live coverage of Stage 8 of the Tour de Suisse. Today's rather lumpy stage is 162 km between Lenk and Verbier, passing over two Cat. 4 and two Cat. 2 climbs, with the finish atop a Cat. 2 ascent. The first climb is the Cat. 2 Col du Pillon (1546m) after 46 km, then the Cat. 4 climbs in Chamoson (km 114) and in Vollèges (km 149).

The sprints today are at Martigny (km 135) and Villette-Le Châble (km 153), with a money sprint at km 28 in Gstaad, the playground of the rich and famous.

The situation on the general classification has Mick Rogers (Quick.Step) in the lead with a 20 second advantage over Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) and 22 over Brad McGee (Francaise des Jeux). Fabian Jeker (Saunier Duval) and Frank Schleck (CSC) are fairly well placed at 1'11 and 1'27, while Chris Horner (Saunier Duval) is at 1'31.

15:20 CEST    66.2km/96km to go
Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) didn't start today. The Australian sprinter has decided to recover his energies for the Tour de France, having shown that he is in good form. Bernhard Eisel (FDJ), Fred Rodriguez (Davitamon-Lotto), and Anton Luengo (Euskaltel) also didn't start.

It took only a handful of kilometres before today's breakaway was established. Mathew Hayman (Rabobank), Niki Aebersold (Phonak), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Daniele Righi (Lampre) and Walter Beneteau (Bouygues) attacked after six kilometres, and were chased by another group with Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile), Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank), Allan Johansen (Team CSC), Angel Gomez (Saunier Duval - Prodir), Carlos Barredo (Liberty Seguros-Würth), Kjell Carlström (Liquigas - Bianchi), René Haselbacher (Gerolsteiner), and Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears). The two groups joined after 10 km to form a lead group of 13, which now has a 6'24 lead over the peloton with 96 km to go.

Lastras is the best placed rider on GC, starting the day at 10'10 behind Rogers, so the break isn't a big threat.

Niki Aebersold won the sprint in Gstaad, and the Cat. 2 climb of the Col du Pillon was won by Carlos Barredo from Pablo Lastras, Niki Aebersold, Thorwald Veneberg and Rene Haselbacher. Allan Johansen (CSC) missed out, even though he is the only rider that could really threaten Roberto Laiseka's lead.

15:27 CEST    77.2km/85km to go
The lead group and the peloton fly on the descent of the Pillon down into Aigle, the siège of the UCI. The gap is kept constant at around six and a half minutes.

15:35 CEST    82.2km/80km to go
The pace has picked up slightly in the peloton, and the 13 leaders aren't gaining any further ground. The last time check was 6'16, with Quick.Step keeping control of the bunch as we reach the halfway point in the stage.

15:41 CEST    87.2km/75km to go
The leaders are approaching the feed zone at Vernayaz, still enjoying their 6 minute plus advantage.

15:43 CEST   
Race leader Michael Rogers must be fairly happy with the current situation on the road, as the break doesn't really threaten his slender lead. "I expect today we will be under attack from the start but I'm hopeful we can keep the main contenders together until the last climb," said Rogers this morning. "Ideally I'd like a harmless break to go like it did yesterday and set up the top ten to battle it out on the climb. It's going to be a tough day but I'm prepared and I want to win this."

15:49 CEST    105.2km/57km to go
The break is rolling along very nicely in the valley under blue skies and sun. They have 6'47, which is a pretty handy lead, and this group could go all the way to the finish. We'll see.

15:53 CEST    109.2km/53km to go
Quick.Step has five riders in the front of the peloton, with Rogers in sixth and Sinkewitz in seventh. It's not a chasing pace though.

Tom Boonen is working today, but will almost certainly not start tomorrow's stage.

15:54 CEST   
Nicolas Inaudi (Ag2r) has abandoned. He was in trouble early in the stage.

15:57 CEST    112.2km/50km to go
The wind is coming from behind the riders, from the right to the left, but the pace is not quite high enough to put everyone in the gutter. T-Mobile is right behind the Quick.Step train, with Ullrich well protected. Also McGee is up there in the FDJ camp. He's wearing the polka dotted points jersey.

16:00 CEST    113.2km/49km to go
Wegmann sits at the back of the break, which is now on the Chamoson climb, averaging 5.6% for 3 km. Not many points on offer here.

16:02 CEST    114.2km/48km to go
Haselbacher now leads the break on this short climb. He'll be working for Wegmann today, as the young German is a very big candidate for the stage win.

Lastras gets some help from the team car. The gap is up to 6'52.

16:03 CEST   
The break passes through the narrow streets of Chamoson, and it's a fairly solid tempo to the top of the climb. Looks like Righi or Barredo got the points.

16:06 CEST    117.2km/45km to go
It was Righi who got the three points, ahead of Veneberg and Carlstrom. The break is now at the bottom, fighting a headwind. Beneteau and Haselbacher grab bidons from the neutral service bike. No spitting please!

16:09 CEST    118.2km/44km to go
The peloton cruises up the climb to Chamoson with a 6'25 deficit. Angelo Furlan (Domina Vacanze) is suffering, but trying to hold on.

It looks likely that the break will stay away, although it's not over yet. Quick.Step and T-Mobile don't have to chase, and FDJ doesn't really either. Most of the other big teams are represented in front.

16:11 CEST    119.2km/43km to go
In the break, Johansen signals for some support from his team car. He has been in three long breaks during this tour, but there's no prize for that. He takes a couple of bidons and rejoins the break. It's fairly warm today, with temps in the upper 20s/lower 30s.

16:13 CEST    121.2km/41km to go
The break and the peloton are making their way back down the valley towards Martigny. Many riders are refueling from the team cars, as it's a nice wide road here. The gap is 6'38 and steady.

16:14 CEST    122.2km/40km to go
Wesemann and Ullrich do a bit of a bottle exchange, and Ullrich now has two fresh bidons as he cruises behind Rogers.

The water bottle moto is getting a good workout today!

16:17 CEST    123.2km/39km to go
Boonen does a turn in the peloton now - he's got a massive motor and puts his head down. Quick.Step has had to chase the break with five men, whereas the leaders are 13.

16:19 CEST    124.2km/38km to go
Yesterday's stage winner Linus Gerdemann (CSC) rides up the peloton with a stomach full of bidons in his jersey for his teammates. He has to go a fair way up the peloton. He's on the wrong side though - his teammates are on the right, where he is on the left. He finds a gap.

16:26 CEST    128.2km/34km to go
The break is now up to 7'00 as both it and the peloton fight the headwind coming into Martigny. It's a loooooong straight, flat road as both groups prepare for the final climb. It's now very likely that the winner of the stage will come from the break in front, but there will be another big battle for the GC behind.

16:30 CEST    131.2km/31km to go
The Quick.Step boys continue to work hard, knocking the gap under seven minutes now. Once the road goes uphill, Rogers will have to mostly rely on Sinkewitz to pace him.

Horner and Ivanov are now sitting right behind Rogers.

16:33 CEST    132.2km/30km to go
The riders in the break again: Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile), Mathew Hayman and Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank), Niki Aebersold (Phonak), Allan Johansen (Team CSC), Angel Gomez (Saunier Duval - Prodir), Carlos Barredo (Liberty Seguros-Würth), Kjell Carlström (Liquigas - Bianchi), René Haselbacher and Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Daniele Righi (Lampre - Caffita), Walter Beneteau (Bouygues Telecom), Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears).

On paper, Wegmann, Aebersold, Lastras, and Gomez are probably the biggest chances for the stage win. Aebersold would love to get one for Phonak, which has missed out so far in this tour.

16:33 CEST    133.2km/29km to go
The wind is now from the left to the right, and Quick.Step has turned the screws a bit to make life tough. They know how to do this to perfection. The peloton starts to split.

16:35 CEST    134.2km/28km to go
The race passes an old amphitheatre in Martigny.

The break is looking a little ragged as Righi skips a few turns. The gap is down to 6'32.

16:36 CEST    134.2km/28km to go
The leaders are very watchful as they get close to the first time bonus of the day. The time and points matter little, but there's also a few Swiss francs for first across the line.

16:38 CEST    135.2km/27km to go
Hayman leads the group up towards the sprint, then Barredo, Lastras, Veneberg, and Gomez do short turns. Then Hayman accelerates to take the 300 euros.

16:40 CEST    136.2km/26km to go
The road will start to climb in a few kilometres, but the final climb up to Verbier really starts at 9 km to go. There is a Cat. 4 climb along the way too.

Veneberg and Lastras took second and third in the sprint behind Hayman.

16:41 CEST    137.2km/25km to go
Voigt and Kroon chat to each other at the rear of the peloton. They don't have too much work to do today, although Voigt will probably try to help Schleck a bit.

Guido Trenti comes back from the Quick.Step car, laden with bidons. Gap is 6'26 and the pace has eased off a bit after that crosswind nastiness.

16:43 CEST    138.2km/24km to go
Quick.Step refuels en masse at the front of the peloton as it passes through the sprint in Martigny. The pace has eased, but the gap is down to 6'15. The breakaways would be suffering now, and there is still a big climb to come.

16:46 CEST    139.2km/23km to go
The breakaways start to climb now with 23 km to go, riding through the vineyards. The gap is 6'09, more than enough to stay clear. Lastras again gets a bidon from the team car.

16:48 CEST    141.2km/21km to go
Veneberg attacks the break! Let the games begin...

16:49 CEST   
Veneberg has company from Lastras and Haselbacher. The rest of the break come back.

16:50 CEST    142.2km/20km to go
Aebersold lifts the pace - he doesn't want any attacks just yet. The break resumes working, then Angel Gomez attacks!

16:51 CEST   
Gomez tanks and the rest come back. Who'll go next? The gap is now 5'25 and falling quickly.

16:53 CEST    144.2km/18km to go
In the peloton, it's just Sinkewitz and Moreni working for Rogers, who has Horner, McGee, and Ullrich following. 4'53 - the gap is falling fairly quickly. But it should be sufficient.

16:58 CEST    147.2km/15km to go
The break is hanging together, still climbing but only gradually now. The gap is down two 4'45, so it's no threat at all to Rogers (Lastras is the best placed at 10'10).

17:00 CEST    148.2km/14km to go
The leaders are now on the Cat. 4 climb to Vollèges, which is short but sharp.

17:01 CEST   
The peloton is still quite big, but there is a long tail as riders hang onto the group.

Aebersold attacks on the climb, and Wegmann, Lastras, Gomez, and Beneteau chase him. Hayman is dropped.

17:03 CEST    149.2km/13km to go
A high altitude soccer game
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
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Johansen is also dropped as Haselbacher leads the rest of the break behind the lone Aebersold, who really wants this stage. He has about 6-7 seconds. He looks back and Barredo and Righi and the rest come back to him. Oh well.

17:04 CEST    149.2km/13km to go
Haselbacher makes a small counter, then Gomez makes a much bigger one, nearly taking out Haselbacher who moves to the right. Gomez is away on the flat. The peloton is now at 4'00 and closing.

17:06 CEST    151.2km/11km to go
Saunier is now working in the peloton, quite hard as a matter of fact. They want to put Jeker in a good position to reclaim the 1'11 deficit he has on Rogers. Sinkewitz, Rogers, Evans, McGee and Ullrich follow the Saunier boys.

Gomez now has 3'29 on the peloton. He won't be overly pleased that his team is chasing hard, but they are working for the greater good of the Team. Surely he can't lose 3'29 in 11 km.

17:07 CEST    152.2km/10km to go
Veneberg is now chasing Gomez alone, while the rest of the break try to work out what to do.

Sinkewitz leads the peloton over the climb at Vollèges, 3'36 back.

17:09 CEST    153.2km/9km to go
Veneberg catches Gomez just before the final sprint of the day in Le Châble and takes the points/time/money. Now it's all uphill.

17:10 CEST   
The rest of the break is about 10 seconds behind Veneberg and Gomez, so they're still in with a shout.

The peloton is thinning out a bit, maybe 40-50 riders now. Moreni and Sinkewitz are working with Rogers in third.

17:10 CEST    154.2km/8km to go
Veneberg and Gomez are back with the break, which is being towed by Haselbacher, who took third in that sprint. Wegmann is in last wheel.

17:11 CEST   
Results of the Vollèges climb: 1. Righi, 2. Barredo, and 3. Aebersold.

17:12 CEST    154.2km/8km to go
The gap has increased again to 3'39 as Moreni sets a steady tempo in the peloton, which is also on the final climb now.

17:13 CEST   
Rogers looks fairly comfy in third wheel, as Horner and Jeker mark him. Ullrich and McGee are just behind them.

17:14 CEST    155.2km/7km to go
This climb averages 7.7& for 7.7 km, with a maximum of 12%.

Gomez and Veneberg are dropped as Barredo and Aebersold attack.

17:17 CEST    156.2km/6km to go
Now it's the break's turn to figuratively explode.

Ahead we have Carlos Barredo (Liberty Seguros-Würth), Pablo Lastras (Illes Balears), then Niki Aebersold (Phonak), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Daniele Righi (Lampre - Caffita), and Walter Beneteau (Bouygues Telecom), then Daniele Nardello (T-Mobile), René Haselbacher and Kjell Carlström (Liquigas - Bianchi),. then Angel Gomez (Saunier Duval - Prodir), and Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank), then Mathew Hayman (Rabobank), Allan Johansen (Team CSC).

Subject to change at any moment, of course. The peloton is now under 3'00 behind.

17:18 CEST   
Jeker has vanished, and it's only Horner from Saunier who can follow Sinkewitz and Rogers. The peloton is about 25 riders strong now. Ullrich is behind Horner, then Schleck, Guerini, Gil, Aitor Gonzalez, Valjavec... McGee is a fair way down.

Jeker is going backwards. He's off the back with Michael Barry. There goes his GC chances.

17:19 CEST   
Laiseka lifts the tempo in the Rogers group, which is now 20 riders strong. Voigt has just been dropped, as has Flores.

17:20 CEST    157.2km/5km to go
Laiseka and Aitor Gonzalez ride ahead of Rogers, who still has Horner and Ullrich on his wheel. Aitor attacks! No-one reacts.

They pass Hayman.

17:22 CEST    157.2km/5km to go
Aitor Gonzalez has a nice lead as Rogers takes over in front. He's the only Quick.Step rider left, but there's only 5 km to go.

In front of the race, Barredo, Lastras, and Wegmann are together. Wegmann looks good.

17:23 CEST   
Gonzalez now has 17 seconds on Rogers' group. He needs to get 1'38 to take the yellow, but there's still tomorrow's tough stage to come. Now Guerini and Ullrich are leading with Horner in third. Rogers has lost a few positions.

17:24 CEST    158.2km/4km to go
Guerini goes at a solid pace, shedding a few more riders.

The three leaders: Wegmann, Lastras and Barredo, will fight it out of the stage win.

Aitor is now 1'58 behind the front of the race and 30 seconds ahead of Rogers!

17:27 CEST    159.2km/3km to go
Barredo attacks in front! Lastras and Wegmann get together and try to limit the damage.

Aitor G. is now 1'30 from the front riders! The Rogers group is at 2'02, so Aitor has picked up 33 seconds. He passes Johansen, Carlstrom, Haselbacher...

Some names in the Rogers group: Rogers, Ullrich, Piepoli, Horner,Totschnig, Evans, Guerini, McGee, Atienza, Valjavec, Gil.

17:29 CEST    159.2km/3km to go
Aitor might do it! He is flying up to the leaders at 1'17 with 3 km to go.

The Rogers group is now Rogers, Ullrich, Piepoli, Horner, Guerini, McGee, Atienza, and Schleck. Now Gil attacks, and Rogers chases.

In front, Lastras has now caught Barredo and gone past him. He's digging deep now! Barredo can't follow.

17:31 CEST    160.2km/2km to go
Gonzalez continues to gobble up the breakaways, passing Aebersold now. He has 1'06 to Lastras and 35 seconds to the Rogers group, which is now Rogers, Ullrich, Piepoli, Horner, Guerini, and Atienza, and chasing Koldo Gil.

Lastras should stay away...

17:32 CEST    160.7km/1.5km to go
Lastras gets to the top of the climb with 1.5 km to go. But that's only the points. The climb gets harder now. Barredo follows at 10 seconds, then Wegmann.

17:33 CEST    161.2km/1km to go
Correction: Schleck, not Horner is in the Rogers group of six.

Lastras is hammering towards the finish, less than 1 km to go.

17:34 CEST   
Aitor Gonzalez catches and drops Beneteau, and has a good 50 seconds on the Rogers group, where McGee, Horner and Gil have latched back on.

17:35 CEST    162.2km/0km to go
Lastras dies a thousand virtual deaths on the way to the finish, but he hangs on to win the stage. Great ride by the Spaniard!

17:37 CEST   
Barredo takes second, then Wegmann and Aitor come in right behind. Then Beneteau for fifth, then Righi.

17:38 CEST   
Gil crosses for 7th at 1'17, then Schleck at 1'21 for 8th with the Rogers group. That means Aitor Gonzalez has moved up on GC by over a minute. He'll be up to fourth overall now. It'll all happen in tomorrow's very tough final stage.

17:46 CEST   
Thanks for following stage 8 with us on Cyclingnews! We'll be back with what should be a great final stage tomorrow in Ulrichen, from 15:00 CEST. Aitor G. looked great today, but can he do it again tomorrow?


1 Pablo Lastras (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne              4.09.09
2 Carlos Barredo (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                    0.16
3 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                
4 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                             0.19
5 Walter Beneteau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                             0.56
6 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                                 1.00
7 Koldo Gil Perez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                   1.17
8 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC                                       1.21
9 Daniel Atienza (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone            
10 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step                            

General classification after stage 7

1 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step                                30.04.33
2 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                    0.20
3 Bradley McGee (Aus) Française Des Jeux                             0.22
4 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                             0.36
5 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC                                       1.27
6 Koldo Gil Perez (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                   1.38
7 Chris Horner (USA) Saunier Duval-Prodir                            1.40
8 Beat Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner                                      2.32
9 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner                                 2.41
10 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems                       3.12

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