Welcome to our live coverage of stage seven in the Tour of Switzerland 2008.
Friday's leg is quite short and covers 141 kilometres from Gruyères in the
French-speaking area to Lyss, not far from the nation's main city Bern. It
runs on an undulating parcours with three fourth category ascents coming in
the last sixty kilometres (well, in fact it's three passages over the same
ascent, the Lobsigen pass) and two laps of a final circuit of some 27 km.
around the finish town) but it's likely to end up in a bunch sprint or a
Stage 7 Gruyères - Lyss 171km
Gold jersey holder Kim Kirchen as much as all other top GC players were
expected to save their legs for tomorrow's crucial Individual TT, and as we
join the stage in progress we find three riders on the front, none of whom is
an overall threat. But the big news of the day is (better, was) that when the
Belgians Johan van Summeren (Silence-Lotto) and Sebastien Rosseler (Quick
Step) and Germany's Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner) made their move after 30
kilometres, they got nobody else but overall runner-up Roman Kreuziger as
fellow attacker. The Liquigas talent from the Czech Republic, trailing Kirchen
by 27 seconds at the stage start, stayed with them about a dozen kilometres,
but he must have realized that the presence of such a main overall contender
in the lead quartet was not of help to (and perhaps neither welcomed by) the
three others, and eventually resolved to sit up and wait for the bunch ... and
save his own legs for tomorrow's crucial Individual TT of course!
Germany's Ronny Scholz leads Johan van Summeren (Silence-Lotto) and Sebastien Rosseler
(Quick Step) in the escape.
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
Without such an "uncomfortable" breakaway companion, the three-man move
could prosper and Scholz, van Summeren and Roesseler increase their advantage
over the field to close to five minutes around the halfway point of the stage.
It must not be that difficult for the two Belgians to work well with each
other: the guys were team mates in the 2002 (at Domo-Farm), 2003 (at
Quickstep's young gun squad) and 2004 (racing with the Relax-Bodysol outfit)
The breakaway trio made it to the feed zone (73 km. from the finish) with
their lead still slightly under five minutes. Kim Kirchen and his teammates
are not in a hurry to bring Scholz, van Summeren and Roesseler, and neither is
David Loosli: none of the attackers poses a threat to the Swissman's
leadership of the KOM classification.
Johan von Summeren, Sebastien Rosseler and Ronny Scholz hold on to their
five-minute margin also as they hit the Lobsigen slopes for the first time.
They obviously stayed clear on this comparatively easy ascent too. The lead
trio is now on the way to the first of three passages across the finishing
line at Lyss town.
1710 CEST - The peloton became serious
about the chase as the race moved into the first lap of the final circuit,
and, also courtesy of of Ronny Scholz's misfortunes (the German had some bike
problems and his breakaway mates slowed the pace in order to wait for him),
the gap was halved to 02'30" about 44 km
from the finish.
Sebastien Rosseler leads his break mates into the final circuits.
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
Scholz's riding tool is not fine at the moment either, and the man makes
the decision to stop and change his bike. The front trio is back as one in the
twinkling of an eye anyway. Three chasers from Kirchen's Team High Road drive
the peloton charge and gain a further dozen seconds in the last thousand
Good news for Tom Boonen and his fans: the Belgian finally got back to
making the news for his accomplishments on the road and won the fourth stage
at Ster Elektrotour in the Netherlands.
We've got an update from France's Route du Sud
stage race too: Noan Lelarge
took both line honours and the overall leadership in today's 17-kilometre ITT.
1716 CEST - 40 km to go, 2:15 the gap
to the three escapees in Switzerland. No significant updates from the Tour de
Suisse: the lead trio hold on to their advantage of 02'15" with 39k left, on
the way to the second passage of the only climb of the day.
Lyss' 11,000 residents welcome the Tour de Suisse for the second time: a
stage of the nation's #1 bike race finished into town also six years go, with
the bunch sprint won by Erik Zabel. Ete is in the bunch also today, and could
give it a go at saluting the local fans from the podium again, but there are
some presumably faster riders in the pack.
1725 CEST - Ronny Scholz leads the
breakaway to the summit of the Lobsigen "ascent" (in fact a veeery easy one).
But the peloton is under two minutes back about 35k from the finish. The
peloton is stretched as the pace goes up with Lazlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole)
the final rider in tailgunner position on the back.
Rabobank rider leads the chase with High Road and Astana in attendance.
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
Rabobank and Astana are giving the future Team Columbia a precious helping
hand in the chase. David Loosli in the pink jersey comfortably stays at the
bottom of the pack. With all KOM points he picked up over the past stages,
there's no need for him to waste energies today for the category 4 climb.
Euskaltel also move "en masse" towards the front of the chase armada while
Fabian Cancellara is yelling at someone in the field. The reason for this
attitude from the Swiss riding sensation goes beyond our knowledge, sorry.
1732 CEST - 29 km to go, Gap update: 01
minute and 36 seconds as the stage steps into the last 30 kilometres, with the
Rabo-boys still keeping the pace high. Van Summeren win the Lyss intermediate
sprint. Behind Rabo, Astana and High Road/Columbia are staying close to the
Ronny Scholz, Johan van Summeren and Sebastian Rossler made it to the line
for the second and penultimate time under the (unsual) sun. The last lap,
covering 27 kilometres, has just started. The gap continues to fall for the
three out front. They won't be crossing the line in the top three places the
next time though: the Rabo-led group cut the gap further down to 01'05".
1740 CEST - And with still a good
25 kilometres to be covered, it fell under the minute because of the onslaught
by Rabobank. Efforts from Astana, Rabobank and High Road are going in the
1743 CEST - 22 km to go, gap 42 seconds.
The powerful Kim Kirchen sits in the first places of the group, but
also another overall contender like Stijn Devolder, sitting in fourth pace in
the GC, shows up on the front.
Scholz, Rossler and Van Summeren have the peloton on their heels: the lead
is down to half a minute as the going gets vertical again with the line
currently about 20k away. The three lads will likely be toast by the top of
the climb, the gap falls to ten seconds.
1750 CEST - The race is winding through
Merlingen, 18 km from the finish. The three guys are about to be caught. And
caught they are: Rossler, Van Summeren and Scholz are swallowed up by the
field. Perhaps even earlier than expected. All downhill at this point...
Perhaps even a bit too early. More attacks could come in the last ten miles of
such not exactly flat circuit. It's up to Rabobank to keep the tempo high in
order to avoid that.
Oscar Freire is very attentive. The Spanish sprinter, looking for revenge
on dual stage winner Robbie McEwen, sits in fifth wheel. Nobody managed
to try an attack in the last three kms. The group stay as one with 14k
1756 CEST - 10 km to go, The peloton is
strung out High Road, Gerolsteiner, Rabobank, and Silence/Lotto at the front.
Several nasty clouds are trying to chase down the sun. But they're not being
successful in their attempt to turn the sky grey again. And thankfully so: we
had enough of bad weather over the past weeks. Credit Agricole took over the
task of driving the field into the last ten kilometres of today's leg.
8 km to go, Leif Hoste puts in an
attack as they reach the top of today's climb for the third and last time.
But another move follows: and it's CANCELLARA! The Swiss stepped up the chase
to the Belgian attacker. The Lotto rider opened up some kind of gap, putting
10 seconds into the bunch, but Cancellara and Markus Fothen are coming.
6 km to go. Contact was made: three
top-class riders are in the lead some 8 kilometres from the finish. And now
the Belgian is struggling to stay with the two others. Another rider launched
a late attack: Philippe Gilbert. And Kim Kirchen himself covers his move!!
Both guys joined the front group.
FIVE MEN in the lead with half a dozen kilometres to go. But Devolder,
Kreuziger and others close down on them. And Cancellara attacks again!
1805 CEST - "Spartacus" is giving
a further display of his power and class. And make the gap. It takes a
motorbike to chase him down now!! Cancellara riders at over 60 kph, and takes
a dozen seconds on the Rabo-led field. 9 second gap!
It's Fabian vs. the Rabo-boys. The gap is ten seconds as they go under the
three-to-go banner. Lampre's Alessandro Ballan moves to the front to help the
The gap is EIGHT seconds with 2 kms to go. Neither the solo leader nor the
hard-riding chasers are giving signs of surrender.
A Liquigas man attacks the field. Cancellara goes under the flambe rouge.
But the advantage is just 5-6 seconds. Folks, we are having a race!
Fabian desperately tries to resist... 500m to go. 400 ... 300 ... 200
... he gives it everything. And he wins! Zabel took the sprint for
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
What a guy! What class! The Swissman had the time to turn back and raise
his arms in triumph before coming across the line. Cancellara was exahusted
after the stage, but he did something sensational today, racing at about 60
kph over the last 4-5 kilometres against a whole army of chasers.
Stage 7 Results
Gruyères - Lyss 171km
1. Fabian Cancellara
2. Erik Zabel at 02"
3. Robbie McEwen at 02"
4. Robert Foerster at 02"
5. Danilo Napolitano at 02"
6. Danilo Wyss at 02"
7. Markus Zberg at 02"
8. Anthony Geslin at 02"
9. Oscar Freire at 02"
10. Sebestien Hinault at 02"
1816 CEST - No news on the GC side of
the matter, with Kim Kirchen firmly in control of the yellow jersey, Roman
Kreuziger trailing him by 27 seoconds, Igor Anton in third at 33" and Stijn
Devolder as fourth-placed rider with a 46 second time gap to make up for.
Cancellara nabbed a great stage victory on home roads, as the man is from
the Bern area of Switzerland. He even had the time to show his tongue to the
cameras and point to his jersey in the last few metres of the stage.
Cancellara can finally climb the podium, get the flowers and salute the
crowd that, needless to ay, goes wild. Now it's Kim Kirchen's turn to
celebrate in yellow. The Luxembourgian showed his excellent form also today as
he covered some late attacks, and sent a clear message to his rivals one day
before the race decider.
King of the Mountain David Loosli (Lampre) and King of the Hot Spot
Sprints René Weissinger (Volksbank) come next on the podium, with Oscar
Freire, still leading the points classification, as last protagonist of the
General Classification After Stage 7
1. Kim Kirchen THR LUX 30h41'42''
2. Roman Kreuziger LIQ CZE 27''
3. Igor Anton EUS ESP 33''
4. Stijn Devolder QST BEL 46''
5. Thomas Lövkvist THR SWE 56''
6. Andreas Klöden AST GER 58''
7. Andy Schleck CSC LUX 01'04''
8. Serguei Ivanov AST RUS 01'06''
9. Markus Fothen GST GER 01'06''
10. Oliver Zaugg GST SUI 01'13''
A quick look at Stage 8 and one sees that the 25 km mountain time trial
could produce significant gaps and will be decisive in determining the final
general classification of the race on the penultimate stage of the tour of
Thanks for joining us today for the live coverage. Join us tomorrow as the
race provides us another day of drama and exciting racing in the final
preparation for the tour de France. As it is Saturday tomorrow, join other
fans during the race to chat about the progress of the riders and anything
cycling. Stay tuned for complete official results and photos of the race
Stage 8 Altdorf - Klausenpass, 25km ITT
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