Two days of racing in the Tour de Suisse have brought about two different stage winners and two different race leaders. Tejay van Garderen surged back into form in stage 7 as he won the mountain top stage to Sölden solo, while Ion Izagirre took the individual time trial ahead of new race leader Miguel Ángel López of Astana.
The 224.3km stage from Arbon to Sölden was another brute of a stage. The first 200km or so weren’t too bad, with a the climbs up the Hochtannbergpass and Aarlbergpass not presenting too much difficulty for the riders, but it would be the HC climb up to the finish itself that would present the most severe challenge.
A two-man breakaway dominated the stage with IAM Cycling’s Mathias Brandle and Etixx-Quick Step’s Iljo Keisse breaking clear and building a lead that held at 7.24mins as they hit the climb. Their advantage was a big one but with the yellow jersey group behind them with Wilco Kelderman et al in pursuit were not going to be messing around. The gap immediately started tumbling as the gradient went up, Brandle was the strongest and began to pull away but the effort immediately began telling for the duo.
What would happen when the bunch behind hit the climb was a matter of supreme interest, and it quickly became apparent that we were in for a brute of a climb, with Katusha and Team Sky immediately pushing the pace. With 8.3km to go the gap had gone down to 3.44mins with Vasil Kiryienka leading the way for the GC group. He had Geraint Thomas poised on his wheel, with Warren Barguil of GIANT-Alpecin and Tejay van Garderen of BMC poised behind them.
With 6km to go the gap for Brandle had dropped to 1.21mins. That lead completely evaporated in the space of the next 600m as the group caught and passed him with the weather conditions beginning to take a turn for the worst. Kiryienka was unaffected though, happy to keep pushing the pace with the likes of Simon Spilak of Katusha, Rui Costa of Lampre-Merida and more all still present with 5km remaining.
Somewhat surprisingly Tejay van Garderen attacked with 4.6km to go. The American who had wilted in stage 6 to find himself 2.09mins down on race leader Barguil struck for home, but impressively managed to stay clear as behind him the bunch disintegrated. Warren Barguil and Jarlinson Pantano of IAM Cycling attacked but so too did Miguel López of Astana and it was his attack that put the hurt on several GC contenders.
Once again it was Geraint Thomas who looked caught out as he fell back. With 1.3km to go van Garderen still held a 30 second lead but the duo of Barguil and Pantano were closing. Thomas was back in a group containing Ion Izagirre of Movistar, CCC Sprandi Polkowice’s Victor de la Parte and Jan Hirt and Rui Costa of Lampre-Merida; but Costa too would pull clear of the Brit.
Impressively though Miguel López was charging up the climb and he caught the Pantano, Barguil duo and drew the Frenchman with him; breezing past Pantano who was too far into the red. In the final kilometre it looked like López might even close in on van Garderen, such was the pace of the Astana rider; but it was not to be, they’d run out of road and van Garderen had restored his Tour de Suisse with a brilliant stage win.
López and Barguil crossed the line second and third but it was Barguil who went into yellow by 21 seconds. The GC then, on the eve of the time trial, saw Andrew Talansky in third place for Cannondale, Ion Izagirre in fourth by 55 seconds and Jarlinson Pantano being the major winner of the day, leaping up from 10th to 5th.
|1||Tejay VAN GARDEREN||USA||BMC||6:26:13|
|2||Miguel Angel LOPEZ MORENO||COL||AST||+16|
|4||Jarlinson PANTANO GOMEZ||COL||IAM||+31|
|7||Rui Alberto FARIA DA COSTA||POR||LAM||+49|
|8||Jon IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI||ESP||MOV||+49|
|9||Víctor DE LA PARTE||ESP||CCC||+59|
On to stage 8 and the individual time trial, a 16.8km affair around the Davos area. It was a rolling stage with a long gradual climb taking the field up to the 10km mark. Predictably the early pace setter of the day was Fabian Cancellara of Trek-Segafredo. He was amongst the first 40 riders to take off and he quickly made his intentions clear; stopping the clock in 21.50mins to set the best time. It would be a long wait before anyone could dethrone him from the top spot. Michael Matthews of Orica GreenEDGE posted a very good time just 5 seconds slower than Cancellara.
After being a phenomenal support rider in the mountains, Vasil Kiryienka was now faced with an opportunity to show off his rainbow jersey as world time trial champion. His efforts would provisionally give him the sixth fastest time. Kiryienka would eventually claim 13th overall 43 seconds down on the stage winner, but who would be the stage winner?
Wilco Kelderman, Dutch national champion, would provide a strong challenge to Cancellara’s lead. But he too would have to play second fiddle to Cancellara. So too would stage 7 winner van Garderen. But Ion Izagirre would be able to dislodge Spartacus. The Spaniard’s time was impressive, a full 19 seconds faster than Cancellara. He would comfortably take the stage in the end and move into third place overall.
Miguel López would take over the race lead though with his impressive time – 1 second faster than Cancellara – enough to secure him second on the stage. Race leader Warren Barguil would struggle against the clock, finishing 21st on the stage just ahead of Simon Špilak but 57 seconds down on Izagirre. He would drop back to fourth overall.
Jesse Sergent of AG2R La Mondiale produced a strong ride to finish the stage 1.18mins down on Izagirre, in 32nd place. He also finished 42 seconds ahead of Orica GreenEDGE’s Sam Bewley who finished just ahead of Michael Albasini.
|1||Jon IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI||ESP||MOV||21:31|
|2||Miguel Angel LOPEZ MORENO||COL||AST||+18|
|6||Jonathan CASTROVIEJO NICOLAS||ESP||MOV||+24|
|7||Jarlinson PANTANO GOMEZ||COL||IAM||+25|
|10||Tejay VAN GARDEREN||USA||BMC||+34|
General classification after stage 8:
|1||Miguel Angel LOPEZ MORENO||COL||AST||29:32:03|
|3||Jon IZAGUIRRE INSAUSTI||ESP||MOV||+16|
|5||Jarlinson PANTANO GOMEZ||COL||IAM||+52|
|7||Tejay VAN GARDEREN||USA||BMC||+1:26|
|10||Rui Alberto FARIA DA COSTA||POR||LAM||+2:09|