Tour de Suisse Stage 8 Preview
Egan Bernal took advantage of favourable terrain and fulfilled the expectations by taking his first stage win of the year. The way hard as expected, INEOS and Bahrain made the run-up to the San Gottardo Pass hard and in the climb itself it started with Movistar and then INEOS setting a hard pace. Mas attacked but when Bernal made his move no-one was able to keep up with him, Mas was overtaken by some riders, whilst Pozzovivo and Dennis chased to limit the losses, with Konrad, Benoot and Hirt in the next chasing group.
Positive: Bernal was strong, did what he had to do, the biggest winner of the day though was probably Dennis, who climbed amazingly and is second overall at just 41 seconds away. I expect him to take the lead tomorrow in the time-trial, if he can keep it until the end I doubt but he is on the path to finish on the podium, as looked spotless so far. Spilak seems to have really had a bad day in Flumserberg, and what to say of Lennard Kamna who was 9th again, really proving his worth.
Negative: Soler, Movistar took charges of the peloton early in the climb as Soler later just exploded, lost over 3 minutes.
Stage 8 is a classic time-trial near the end of the race. But the stage is shorter this year, the time-trial is only 19.2 Kilometers long, for specialists it's a decent distance to create a gap but between the climbers there won't be much of a gap. It's another non-technical TT, so the specialists will have it all for them, and the averages will be very fast.
Wind will be weak, as it's been the case lately the time-trials won't favour different wind conditions anyhow, as for the rain well, it's forecasted for the whole stage, weak rain but it's there. Although, the same was said when I wrote the last two previews and the rain ended up not showing up. If it does tomorrow it can benefit some riders even though it's not a technical time-trial, but there's no way of knowing who can be benefited.
Rohan Dennis is the first name to mention, he won the opening time-trial and is looking in superb form, with one very suited to him now, and extra motivation as he has very good chances of taking over the lead of the race.
The Swiss, Stefan Kung had cramps the day he was in the break which isn't a good sign, but if he's recovered from the effort of the first stages, if is also looking superb in terms of form and is the national champion, another one who will be very motivated to bring the win. Tom Bohli is the other, more of a prologue specialist but he's beeing free to have a calm race as the team is having no real results.
Maciej Bodnar, I went with him for the first day and he finishes second. Honestly I think he has the legs, but seeing Dennis back to his best and Kung in such form it's hard to see him win. Patrick Bevin also looking really strong, another good possibility.
There's Jonathan Castroviejo, although he's been working hard for Bernal, I don't see him performing at his best, Yves Lampaert can be a good surprise, although at this point it isn't really surprising, his teammate Kasper Asgreen is also looking very sharp and hasn't been making the efforts in the mountain stages, he can be the perfect combination for tomorrow. Soren Kragh Andersen is pretty strong too but hasn't been the best so far, despite a good opening day.
The way EF's been riding in the time-trials this season also deserves a mention, Lawson Craddock and Tom Scully were pretty strong on stage 1.
⭐ Bohli, Castroviejo, SK.Andersen, Craddock, Scully, Matthews
I feel we've truly seen the return of Dennis to his best, the time-trial was the start and the way he's riding gives a tremendous confidence. What in my mind gives him the edge for tomorrow is the motivation of having a chance of actually winning the race, for him this isn't just about the stage, it's about trying to juice as much time from the stage as possible.
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