This 8th stage of Tour de Suisse seems like a good one for a breakaway to make it. The GC favorites will be happy to get a quiet day before the final time trial and for many teams this is the last chance to get a stage win in the race.
The stage is 180.5 km long and we can expect a fast start despite a head win. After just 37 km the riders face the category 1 climb up to the Julierpass. The 6.8 km towards the top have an average gradient of 6.6 % and serve as an excellent place for a breakaway to be established. After reaching the top, the riders head north towards the finish town Bad Ragaz. It takes almost 60 km before the riders are done with the long descent and afterwards it’s flat for another 40 km before reaching the finishing line for the first time. From here, they loop around Bad Ragaz for about 40 km. With 9.1 km to go it’s time for a steep category 3 climb. It’s only 2.8 km long but has an average gradient of 7.3 %. There is just 6.3 km to go from the top of the climb and the descent is very fast. The last two kilometers towards the finishing line are flat.
There are two scenarios for this stage. In the first, a break gets away on the category 1 climb and makes it all the way. Naturally, the last climb will be a great place to test your fellow escapees and a strong rider with most likely be able to keep his gap if he gets away over the top. In the second scenario, a break gets away but teams like Cannondale, BMC, Saxo-Tinkoff and GreenEdge work together in order to catch them. I think the last climb is too hard for the pure sprinters to stay up front. Riders like Peter Sagan, Phillipe Gilbert, Matti Breschel and Matt Goss seem like much better candidates. Sagan is without a doubt the fastest of these but Gilbert must be eager finally to win in the Rainbow Jersey. If he gets away on the final climb, he will be very difficult to catch. Saxo-Tinkoff have been trying to set up Matti Breschel the last couple of days and without having to work for Roman Kreuziger on this stage, they can focus on the fast Dane. GreenEdge have a couple of riders for a stage like this one. On a good day, Matt Goss is up there but if not, teammate Daryl Impey and Michael Albasini look good.
Albasini is also a good candidate for an early breakaway. He tried to get into the morning break on Stage 7 and this is the last chance for Albasini to get a win on home soil in this year’s Tour de Suisse. Albasini is strong uphill, good downhill and very fast on the line. Another rider for a break is Martin Elmiger. IAM Cycling hasn’t have much luck in this race so far and they need to finish in a strong way. Elmiger became a father earlier in the race and the Swiss rider will be motivated to hit the right break in order to dedicate a stage win to his newborn daughter Julia.
Favorites: Peter Sagan & Phillipe Gilbert
Jokers: Michael Albasini & Martin Elmiger
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Preview by C-Cycling. Thanks to Mikkel Condé for these informative previews, I’ve supplied him with Dauphiné previews all week and now I’m drafting his Swiss analysis in return. Remember you can follow Mikel on Twitter as @mrconde.