Rui da Costa (Caisse d’Epargne) won stage 8 of the Tour de Suisse on Saturday, launching a well-timed attack on a hilly and technical 16km finishing circuit in Liestal.
Da Costa finished ahead of teammate Jose Rojas Gil, who scampered past HTC-Columbia’s Maxime Monfort who spent most of the final eight kilometers hoping to close a 15-second gap on Da Costa.
Race leader Robert Gesink (Rabobank) crossed in the peloton over a minute behind the winner and held onto his yellow jersey with just one more stage remaining, a 26.9km time trial around Liestal.
“It was a tough day for the team, but we worked well together and that was nice to see,” said Gesink. “Personally I felt very strong. It was a tight battle and I’ll do everything to win the Tour de Suisse.”
The 172.4km race from Wetzikon to Liestal followed a hilly but not mountainous route and concluded with a difficult finishing circuit.
It was another wet day in Switzerland, with rain falling at the start. One rider who was not toeing the line in Wetzikon was Katusha’s Kim Kirchen, who suffered an unspecific cardiac problem Friday and was hospitalized for tests.
The break du jour
A group of eight went clear early on: Monfort; the Caisse d’Epargne duo of Da Costa and Rojas Gil; Gregory Rast (RadioShack); Tom Danielson (Garmin-Transitions); Lars Peter Nordhaug (Sky); Gerald Ciolek (Milram); and Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux). Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas) caught up and it was a nine-man escape that built a 45-second lead by the 21km mark.
Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel), Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank), and Edouard Vorganov (Katusha) launched a chase, but failed to leap the gap, and by the 50km mark the break had 90 seconds on the field.
That margin held steady midway through the stage, and going up the Cat. 3 Wintersinger Höhe with 40km to race the leaders still held more than a minute.
Monfort took a dig out of the break, followed by Danielson, Nordhaug and Gil. Vanotti fought his way back to the foursome, as did Da Costa. Casar managed to rejoin, too, and Rast was chasing, but Ciolek was cooked and floated back to the peloton. Rast, too, would eventually cave and drift backward.
Monfort attacked again and this time took a lead of about 10 seconds on his erstwhile break-mates, while the peloton was 2:36 back with 25km to go. Da Costa and Gil reeled him back in, and Danielson, Nordhaug and Casar latched back on, too.
Behind, Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel) attacked out of the peloton, followed by Jose Guitierrez (Caisse d’Epargne) and Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step). Ahead, Casar jumped out of the break, followed by Gil, and the two began working their way up the final climb.
Monfort and Da Costa regained the leaders as Vanotti, Danielson and Nordhaug chased. The peloton was nearly three minutes back with 13km to race.
Over the ensuing five kilometers, Monfort traded attacks with the two Caisse d’Epargne riders before Da Costa finally broke free on one of the short, steep, but un-rated climbs on the circuit.
The attacks left the lead group spread out over about 30 seconds on the road, but Monfort was not surrendering and gave chase with Rojas Gil following in his shadow. While Monfort at one point narrowed the gap to 11 seconds, he never could bridge to the lone leader.
“We worked well together (with Rojas), that really helped me to win,” said da Costa. “Winning on a big race like the Tour de Suisse is great. It was a tough day but now my thoughts are turned towards the Tour de France.”
- 1. Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por), Caisse d’Epargne, at 4:10:32
- 2. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Esp), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:015
- 3. Maxime Monfort (Bel), HTC-Columbia, at 0:19
- 4. Sandy Casar (Fra), Française des Jeux, at 0:34
- 5. Alessandro Vanotti (Ita), Liquigas-Doimo, at 0:34
- 6. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor), Team Sky, at 0:34
- 7. Thomas Danielson (USA), Garmin-Transitions, at 0:39
- 8. Daniele Pietropolli (Ita), Lampre-Farnese Vini, at 1:14
- 9. Thor Hushovd (Nor), Cervélo TestTeam, at 1:16
- 10. Robert Gesink (Ned), Rabobank Cycling Team, at 1:16