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Tour de Suisse - Stage 7 Live
By Staff
Date: 6/20/2008
Tour de Suisse - Stage 7 Live

Tour de Suisse - Stage 7 Live
With Saturday's key challenge against the clock looming, today's stage should be one for the fastest wheels and/or stage hunters.

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 winning breakaway.

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. Photo © 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) seasons.

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.
Photo © 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 metres.

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.
Photo © 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 front.

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 right direction.

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 remaining.

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 chase.

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 second place.


Vittoria Cancellara!      Photo © 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 ceremony.

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 Switzerland.

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 action.

Stage 8 Altdorf - Klausenpass, 25km ITT

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