The 8th stage of the Tour de Suisse saw Esteban Chaves (Orica Greenedge) take the win a top the cat 1 climb to Verbier. Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff Saxo) took 2nd with Bauke Mollema (Belkin) the rider in 3rd place. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung had both Sergio Pardilla and Louis Meintjes in the mix on the tough final climb with the MTN-Qhubeka riders taking 16th and 19th respectively.
The long 220km stage saw an early breakaway that contained 8 riders ride clear of the field by just more than 7 minutes. Omega Pharma Quickstep took control of the chase for the majority of the day with Tinkoff Saxo and Giant Shimano providing assistance later on in the stage. The 3 strong World Tour teams made sure that the break was kept in check and as the race hit the final climb up to Verbier, the break was within touching distance.
With 9km to go the break and the peloton both started to feel the pressure as the gradient increased up to Verbier. Bjorn Thurau (Europcar) was the first rider to attack from the peloton at 7,5km to go followed a kilometer later by our very own Meintjes. Meintjes rode across the 12″ gap to Thurau and the duo went on to reel in all of the remaining breakaway riders by 4km to go. The peloton finally reacted to the activity upfront though and put in a big surge to bring the race back together.
The last 3km saw just 23 riders left in the race with both Meintjes and Pardilla present in the select group. Chaves was the rider to put in the next meaningful attack and it was the move that counted as the Colombian would go on to open up a big enough lead to hold off the chase from behind. Pardilla and Meintjes fought valiantly over the last tough kilometer to come home with the 2nd group of favourites on the road. After their great rides, Pardilla was able to move up to 11th on GC and Meintjes to 22nd, considering the quality of the field at the Tour de Suisse the team is certainly pleased with these standings heading into tomorrows final stage.
Rider – Louis Meintjes
It was a really fast race today, the team did a great job looking after me and Sergio for the first 200km. All we had to do was save our legs for the climb. I decided to go early because the bunch was hesitating a bit, i thought they might leave me and let me go but the pace picked up soon after i went. My legs felt good today though and maybe tomorrow we will get a bit luckier.
Tour de Suisse (Switzerland) – (14-22 June/UCI 2.WT) Team Lineup