Tour de Suisse 2021 – Stage 8 preview

By David Hunter

Andermatt > Andermatt 158km

The final day.

This is one of the stages that had to be changed due to the high mountain passes being closed, but it still looks a decent day. There was even a very late change with the organisers deciding to climb the Gotthardpass using cobbled side, you’ll remember this from the 2019 edition. Just 158km in length, but we have three sizeable mountains to deal with, the GC isn’t settled yet, especially as the riders spend most of the day at altitude.

Key Points

That’s right, the stage begins with hairpins, got to love the organisers. 9km at 6.4% is a challenging way to start the stage, we might even see some attacks from the GC contenders. Once over the top there is around 20km of descending before the next climb.

15.1km at 5.4% is the easiest climb of the day, but it’s still long enough to hurt some legs. By this point the break should have been established, which means the peloton will be riding tempo. We then have a descent of 50km, before a section in the valley, where the bunch will decide if the break win the stage or not.

The Gotthardpass is a tough climb, 12.6km at 6.9%. It is hard enough to see some big gaps between the best climbers, especially with all the cobbles. Back in 2019 the stage finished at the top, this year we have 14km to go from the crest.

Weather

Another nice day over in Switzerland. The wind will be light, but it will still be a headwind for the Gotthardpass.

Tactics

Today’s TT really has put a cat among the pigeons. Urán now sits just 17 seconds behind Carapaz, he has a real chance of winning the yellow jersey. The battle for yellow is just between these two riders as Alaphilippe is going home to be at the birth of his first child. EF do not have the team required to put pressure on Ineos, Urán will have to wait for the final climb and see if he can drop Carapaz, he cannot go long as Ineos will have the domestiques to chase him down.

The GC position means that Ineos won’t be chasing the break, they don’t want the bonus seconds to be available, this means the break has a great chance of taking the stage. With two climbs early in the stage we’ll see a big fight to join the break, some GC riders will also try to get in the mix. Once the break goes, I doubt we’ll see it again as no one has the power and will to chase it.

The big GC fight will be on the Gotthardpass, a fitting way to end the race. Carapaz was brilliant on Thursday, will Urán be able to put him under pressure? With Dennis and Dunbar to help, Carapaz is still in a very strong position, but he’ll still be a little worried. Last time up the cobbles it was Bernal who took the win for Ineos, can Carapaz do the same? Given the strength of Ineos, it’s going to be very hard for Urán to win the yellow jersey.

Contenders

Richard Carapaz – the stage win won’t be a concern for him, it’s all about winning yellow. However, if the stage win is up for grabs, he won’t be handing out any favours.

Rigoberto Urán – can he escape Carapaz? Winning this stage is going to be very difficult for the Colombian. Carapaz will cover his moves but won’t cover the other riders. If the break doesn’t win, everything points to someone a little lower in the top 10 taking the stage.

Domenico Pozzovivo – he was 2nd here back in 2019, he likes the final climb. The Italian has looked very strong this week, his TT today was exceptional. As he doesn’t have the best of sprints, he’ll likely have to arrive solo to win the stage, that will be difficult.

Michael Woods – the fastest finisher of the GC riders. The Canadian is enjoying a fine run of form, he’ll be hoping someone chases down the break and sets up a GC day. If that happens, he’s far enough down on GC to get some freedom, and packing the fastest sprint is a big positive.

Gino Mäder – breakaway hopeful number 1. He’s struggled this week, but today’s TT was brilliant.

Wout Poels – breakaway hopeful number 2. Another who did a good TT today.

Tiesj Benoot – breakaway hopeful number 3. Out of the GC picture and he likes the cobbles.

Antwan Tolhoek – breakaway hopeful number 4. He’s been brilliant this week.

Prediction Time

I’ll take a breakaway win for Antwan Tolhoek, with Richard Carapaz holding on to the yellow jersey.

David Hunter

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