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Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage from the Tour de Suisse. Today is stage 8, a 172.4km race from Wetzikon to Liestal. Four category three climbs along way and from the skies above the riders, plenty more rain too.
We've covered around 14kms already but so far the bunch is still together. Yesterday was a long, wet day in the saddle but can another break succeed? Today's stage profile suggests that it could but in the overall classification it's the last chance for the climbers to take time before tomorrow's final stage - a time trial. Is the profile hard enough?
News is that Pavel Brutt has abandoned the race. More worryingly is the shock news that Kim Kirchen suffered a suspected heart attack last night. The Katusha rider was taken to hospital immediately and is still there having tests . News from the team is that he's in good spirits and feeling a lot better. As soon as we know more we'll bring it to you.
Some action from today's stage at last. We have a nine name group just ahead of the bunch. They have around 30 seconds at the moment. Here's a lovely list of those involved.
Tom Danielson (Garmin-Transitions), Alessandro Vanotti (Liquigas), Maxime Monfort (HTC), Rui Da Costa (Caisse), Jose Gil (Caisse), Gregory Rast (RadioShack), Sandy Casar (FDJ) Lars Peter Nordhaug (Team Sky) and Gerald Ciolek (Milram).
The leaders have 1.15 on the bunch now.
We've also got a group of three riders chasing the nine up the road. Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi, Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Rabobank and Edouard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha.
As the three chasers are caught lets look at the make up of the lead group.
Monfort is the biggest threat in the overall but he needs a strong performance in here in Suisse. He was part of the team's line up last year at the Tour de France but his place this year isn't confirmed. A good ride today could seal his place on the plane to Rotterdam.
Another rider to watch is obviously Danielson. He's had a quiet start to the season, was forced to quit the Tour of California due to a crash but could make the Garmin team for this year's Tour. It'll be his first ever Tour de France should he make the final nine.
No real organisation in the bunch at the moment but the leaders still haven't extended their lead above two minutes. They've just reached Rorbas.
The leaders are coming up the to the first climb of the day, Siglistorf. It's a third category climb so nothing serious. A couple of the riders in the break might suffer a bit but they should be fine.
Tour de Suisse has been criticized for a lack of mountain stages in this year's race. We've had plenty of lumpy stages but nothing to really, really break things up. Even the stage that Gesink won didn't finish on a hill. Anyone remember the race having days like this?
Over the top of the climb for the leaders. Results to come, as finally we see a few of the big guns - Martin, Gesink, Cancellara more towards the front of the bunch.
The gap is coming down a bit. It's at 1.10.
Tom Danielson (Garmin-Transitions) took maximum points on the climb by the way. He was followed over the top by Rojas and Monfort.
Another 60km until the the next climb. It's now or never for this break though. Monfort being relatively high up on GC is the threat. He's a good rider against the clock, so Gesink won't want to give him any real advantage.
Near the Swiss German divide now. The riders have around 70km to go now and the gap is back over 1.30. Still not really big enough to cause the bunch or Gesink any problems.
Around 20km until the next climb of Wittnauer.
Slight little bump in the road here for the leaders. It's not a categorized climb.
Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre-Farnese Vini has quit the race but the gap has jumped up to 1.47.
The leaders hit the next climb. Danielson on the front taking a turn.
We spoke to the American at the start this morning and this is what he had to say: "My form is all right. I had a bad crash a few days before the Tour of California and busted up my hip, my pelvis and my L5. I did everything I could to get through that. I rode through it and really suffered a lot. Now I’m still in some pain but not as bad."
Casar could also be a danger on the stage too. he's been quick recently but he's an experienced rider for days like this.
We also spoke to AG2R's Roche at the start this morning: "I won't try anything today...I want to save my energy for tomorrow and see how I get on in the time trial. I am pretty inconsistent in them and so would like to do well if possible."
Cervelo have moved to the front of the bunch now. They'll be trying to pull things back to help Hushovd in the sprint.
At the front of the race Gregory Rast secures the maximum amount of points at the top of the climb.
Rabobank now join the fun at the front of the bunch. Welcome to the party. Hunt for Cervelo still there too.
The gap has come down a few seconds. It's now at 1.12.
Rabobank have sat up now. Cervelo the only organised chase on the front of the bunch.
Pretty steep climb actually that the break find themselves on. Only a third cat but it looks tough. They're spread all over the road as they try and weave their way up to the top.
The peloton hit the climb and almost come to a standstill. It's steep. Maybe 20 per cent.
And Monfort goes on the attack. The gap was coming down so the Belgian made a move. Rojas has gone with him.
Now that's interesting. If Monfort can put in a good ride today he could go to the Tour. Ciolek blows to pieces but the rest of the riders come back together.
Rast and Casar are also off the back now. Monfort with Rojas and Danielson, a few riders trying to stay with it.
Nordhaug makes it to the leading trio as the Liiquigas rider and Da Costa make it over too.
Monfort leads over the top.
The lead is going up now. It's at 3.02 now. Gesink wont be too worried just yet but he needs to react with his team as Ciolek is caught by the bunch.
Rabobank are aware of the danger and take over from Cervelo.
So six riders on the front now. Monfort the danger man for both the stage and the overall.
Monfort drilling the pace on the front but a few of his companions are trying to attack.
Monfort now attacks and there are a few tired riders on the road.
He has a gap of around 50 meters on this little rise.
The two riders are coming across to Monfort so now we have three leaders. The gap down to 2.35
So a Monfort sandwich at the front. Danielson and Nordhaug try and catch up.
Rojas attacks as Monfort was drinking. The Belgian chases, catches, has a few words and Da Costa sits at the back. He'll attack next.
Fuglsang jumps out from the bunch.
Rabo driving the chase now.
Bit of a worry for Gesink, he only has two teammates with him. Danielson and Nordhaug are about to catch the leading trio as Fuglsang is caught.
Rabobank are going to need some help. They wont get any from Shack or Saxo. Meanwhile the three riders up ahead push on as Casar catches Danielson.
Who will come to Rabobank's aid?
Rabobank are going to crumble here, surely. Riders are attacking left right and center as we now have six leaders at the front of the race.
Chavanel and Gutierrez break clear. Not sure that the Spaniard will do too much here as he has two men up the road.
Voigt is now trying to get across as Casar attacks from the lead group. That's impressive, he was dropped a few kilometers before.
The leaders go through the finish for the first time. One 18km lap to come.
Gesink has found two more teammates so now there are four Rabobank riders on the front but the gap isn't coming down. There's a second group with Voigt, Chavanel and co but we're going to focus on the leaders and the Rabobank bunch.
Rojas and Casar now join forces on the front and they've got a good gap.
The duo have 19 seconds on Monfort who has gone it alone.
Now on the final climb and Rojas has attacked. Casar is caught by Monfort.
It's carnage on the final climb. The second group has blown apart.
The gap to Rojas and Gesink is still three minutes.
The main battle though is between Gesink and Monfort. Rabobank have blown apart and Andy Schleck is driving the pace.
As Rojas is now caught by Rojas. This is great stuff.
Da Costa and Casar are also back with the leaders.
Armstrong has a dig and attacks.
Now Schleck attacks but Armstrong is a threat here. Rodriguez from Katusha attacks as Lance is brought back. Rodriguez, is a very big threat. Gesink has to react.
Now a Garmin-Transitions rider attacks.
The big threats to Gesink are Monfort who has nearly three mins and Rodriguez who has just attacked.
Caisse are taking it in turns to attack now. Will Monfort and Casar help eack other. Rojas is probably the best sprinter.
We now have seven riders as Vanotti and Danielson make it to the leaders.
Gesink just sitting on Frank Schleck's wheel..
Da Costa now attacks from the lead group, which has been blown apart again, Monfort and Rojas taking up the chase together. The winner will come from one of those three.
Devolder has a little dig from the bunch.
Monfort is really making a race here.
Gesink has to take the chase up and gets a hand from Armstrong.
Mollema is there for Gesink now. That will help.
Da Costa goes again and with 6km to go he has 12 seconds.
Monfort chasing, Rojas just siting on his wheel. The gap is coming down, it's under two minutes now.
If Gesink wins this race he'll have to give Mollema a big thank you, his teammate is doing a huge job.
Gesink's group is down to around 30 riders now. These small little climbs are really hurting the field.
Da Costa is pushing on, the gap now 19 seconds. Has he done enough to win the stage?
Da Costa gets out the saddle. 1K to go.
Uphill all the way now but Da Costa will take this win. No danger in the overall but a great ride from the Caisse rider.
Zips up his jersey, raises his arm and the win is his.
Here comes Rojas, Monfort in third.
Casar comes in for fourth.
The bunch with just 300 meters to go.
Gesink crosses the line in 1.15. Hushovd lead that group home.
Brave effort from Monfort but it didn't happen for him. Thanks for joining us today and tune in tomorrow for the final stage. Can Gesink hold on in the time trial?