Portuguese rider struggles but keeps his yellow jersey in the hard Arosa finish, minimizes time losses thanks to help by Alejandro Valverde in the ending 5k to stay in the lead with one stage to go
Rui Costa managed to keep his yellow leader’s jersey for a sixth consecutive day in the 76th Tour de Suisse. The Portuguese rider from Movistar Team struggled for the last 30k of climbing –with Castiel (Cat. 2) and Arosa (HC) chained up to the finish- on stage eight, a short, 148-kilometer trek starting at Bischofszell. Costa went through his first sympthoms of suffering just before reaching the summit of the first climb, but built up the energy needed so as not to lose contact with the small group of favourites until the final 5k.
Despite the long way to the finish and the strong pace by a trio composed by Fränk Schleck (RNT), Mikel Nieve (EUS) and Levi Leipheimer (OPQ), the Movistar Team leader was able to keep the gaps affordable, helped by a phenomenal Alejandro Valverde, who dropped himself from the back of the group to help his team-mate and here-leader. The Blue duo came across the finish with 50 seconds back on a dangerous Schleck and kept the coveted jersey by 15 seconds. The telephone squad, superb for one more day, will defend it tomorrow on the showdown of the race, a marathon 216 kilometers en route to Sörenberg (Cat. 2), with the previous climbs towards Schüpfheim (Cat. 2) plus Glaubenbielen and Glaubenberg, both HC, in the second half of the route. Costa will have seven riders behind him within a minute’s distance, with Valverde now in 9th spot.