Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the 8th and final stage of the Tour de Suisse.
The Tour de Suisse will be decided in Liechtenstein today, with a flat 25.6km time trial that begins and ends in Vaduz.
Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) is in the yellow jersey but only two seconds ahead of superior time triallist Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers). Jakob Fuglsang (Israel- Premier Tech) is also within touching distance of the race lead, 19 seconds back. Higuita sets off at 15:50 CET, while Thomas begins at 15:48 and Fuglsang at 15:46.
Some other start times to look out for are potential stage winners Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) at 15:30 CET and Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) at 15:38. You can find a full list of start times here.
So far the Tour de Suisse has been decimated by COVID-19 with four teams and a glut of other riders forced to abandon the race. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) also tested positive this morning, leaving just 80 riders to complete the course.
The first rider to roll down the start ramp in ten minutes time will be Lorrenzo Manzin (TotalEnergies). The peloton will then start at one minute intervals in the reverse order of their GC position until the top 20 who will set out at two minute intervals.
And we are off! Manzin kicks off the day's action and begins his lap around Vaduz.
There is a time check at 12.9km when the benchmarks for what counts as a good time will become clearer.
There are currently four riders out on the course: Manzin, Adrian Petit, Tom Bohli and James Knox.
Although Vaduz is surrounded by mountains, this time trial is mostly flat providing a perfect arena for the time trial specialists and rouleurs to shine.
Chad Haga is setting off now; he won the ITT in the 2019 Giro d'Italia so is a definite contender for the stage win today.
Temperatures are reaching a sweltering 34 degrees celsius in Liechtenstein today.
It’s another hot day at the #TourdeSuisse2022. pic.twitter.com/TMe7kFpG1lJune 19, 2022
Along with Sagan, Omar Fraile and Daryl Impey will not start today.
Manzin has set a time of 15:24 at the intermediate checkpoint.
Knox surpasses Manzin's time and sets a new benchmark of 15:12. Neither Lewis Askey nor Alexander Kristoff can go quicker than the Brit.
Temperatures are still climbing in Vaduz even hitting 39 degrees celsius.
A warm up on the @Elite_cycling trainer in (very) warm conditions. Temperatures have hit 39 degrees here in Vaduz and while ice vests and fans are providing a mild escape right now, it will be scorching on the road! #TourdeSuisse2022 pic.twitter.com/lbZMZ06WhVJune 19, 2022
Back in the race, meanwhile, Haga has overtaken his minute man - Daniel Oss - and is approaching the intermediate split.
Manzin is coming up to the finish and sets a provisional best time of 31:17 - an average of 41km/hr.
Haga obliterated the best time back at the intermediate split, setting the benchmark at 14:34.
Quinn Simmons is rolling down the start ramp. Provided he finishes within the time limit today he will win the King of the Mountains classification.
Knox sets a good new best time of 30:58 which is promptly beaten Robin Froidevaux with a time of 30:52. It's that time in the race when seconds are shaved off the fastest time almost every time another rider crosses the line.
Maybe this time will stand for a little longer- Haga sets a time of 29:51, beats Froidevaux by a minute, and is the first person to complete the course in less than half an hour.
Or perhaps not as Dylan van Baarle has gone faster than Haga at the intermediate split.
Benoit Cosnefroy now comes to the line, exactly a minute - to the millisecond - behind Haga.
Haga's teammate Keegan Swirbul scorches through the intermediate split in 14:16, fifteen seconds faster than van Baarle.
Haga is detailing the conditions on the course to Eurosport, saying that the heat and headwind made for a difficult time trial.
Now van Baarle eases around the last corner and comes across the line 20 seconds faster than Haga. He picked up time on the second half of the course as he was only a second ahead of the American at the halfway point.
Michael Matthews is making his way to the start; he is a time trial away from being crowned the winner of the points classification following his consistent performance at this year's race.
Nico Denz, the winner of Stage 6, has put in a good time trial and finishes in provisional third, 27 seconds behind van Baarle.
There are only 18 riders left to start; most of the peloton are either out of the course or have finished.
Nikias Arndt has just gone fastest at the intermediate time check.
Yesterday's stage winner Thibaut Pinot is about to begin his time trial; he is currently in 15th place overall.
Ion Izagirre finishes in the third fastest time so far, at the same time as Haga, while Remco Evenepoel sets off in pursuit of a stage win.
There was some confusion about Ilan van Wilder's intermediate time which was originally given as almost a minute faster than Arndt. It has now been corrected but is still a good time, just a second behind van Baarle who is currently in the hot seat.
Arndt approaches the finish and he has been unable to maintain his pace over the second half of the course. He finishes in seventh place provisionally, 47 seconds behind van Baarle.
Van Wilder has crashed over the barriers on the course and is sitting by the side of the road. His team and the medics are attending to him.
Alexey Lutsenko has passed the intermediate checkpoint at the same time as Dylan van Baarle - 14:33.
Sergio Higuita is preparing for his time trial. He took the yellow jersey yesterday on the climb up to Malbun as he distanced the rest of the GC favourites with a late attack. Geraint Thomas proved the next-best climber and finished 11 seconds behind the Colombian while Jakob Fuglsang, who had begun the day as the race leader, crossed the line 18 seconds behind Thomas.
🇨🇭 #tourdesuisse2022💛 @HiguitSergio pic.twitter.com/5XU2Bmza52June 19, 2022
Now Küng is setting off, resplendent in the jersey of the European time trial champion. He has won the time trial at the Tour de Suisse twice before and has had an excellent race so far - he is in seventh place overall.
Evenepoel is flying and he crosses the intermediate split in first place, 28 seconds faster than Arndt.
Evenepoel is using every metre of the road to find the best lines and shave off every millisecond that he can.
Dani Martinez, on a bike covered in black and white writing, sets the second fastest time at the halfway point - 24 seconds slower than Evenepoel.
There are only the top three on GC left to start. As a reminder, Sergio Higuita is in the yellow jersey but only two seconds ahead of superior time triallist Geraint Thomas who is the favourite to take the overall today. Jakob Fuglsang is also within touching distance of the race lead, 19 seconds behind Higuita.
Fuglsang sets off and settles into his time trial position.
Thomas mounts the same prototype bike as his teammate Martinez and sets off down the start ramp in search of his 25th career victory on the road.
🕵️♂️👀 @Pinarello_com #TourDeSuisse2022 pic.twitter.com/U6nrwyiPSmJune 19, 2022
Higuita clips into his pedals, shakes his legs, and begins his defence of the yellow jersey.
Bob Jungels is confirming his renaissance and sets the third fastest time at the intermediate split. He is in eighth place overall.
Buoyed by home support, Küng (a dual citizen of Switzerland and Liechtenstein) goes nearly two seconds faster than Evenepoel at the intermediate time check.
Evenepoel has obliterated van Baarle's best time and crosses the line more than a minute faster. The new best time is 28:26, with an average speed of 54 km/hr!
Martínez crosses the line in provisional second place, finishing 30 seconds behind Evenepoel.
Nielson Powless is fighting for an overall podium spot and sets the third best time at the intermediate split. He needs to make up 57 seconds on Fuglsang to move up to third overall but the Dane has lost just six seconds to Powless on the first half of the course.
Thomas is just seven seconds behind Fuglsang at the intermediate checkpoint.
Now Higuita is approaching the intermediate checkpoint and he is 51 seconds slower than Kung and has already lost 44 seconds to Thomas. Thomas is the virtual race leader by 42 seconds.
Küng is approaching the finish but is ten seconds slower than Evenepoel who remains in the hotseat.
Only Thomas looks like he could challenge Evenepoel for the stage win though he is more focused on the general classification. If he wins the Tour de Suisse today, the 36 year old will become the race's second oldest winner.
Pozzovivo finishes the time trial two minutes behind Küng and will drop out of the top five. Küng will finish in the top five overall.
Powless seems to have had an issue in the final 500 metres of the time trial and changes his bike. Still with that mechanical, he finishes less than a minute behind Evenepoel.
Now Fuglsang is heading into the final kilometre.
He crosses the line 1:02 behind Evenepoel.
Thomas is coming into the finish and challenging Evenepoel's time.
Thomas crosses the line three seconds behind Evenepoel who looks set to take the stage.
Only Higuita is left out on the course but he seems unlikely to challenge Thomas whose exceptional perfomance in the time trial has sealed his tenth stage race victory.
Higuita is still fighting to maintain his place on the podium.
Remco Evenepoel is confirmed as the stage winner with a time three seconds faster than Geraint Thomas who becomes the first ever British winner of the Tour de Suisse.
Higuita has secured second place overall, 1:12 behind Thomas and just four seconds ahead of Fuglsang in third place.
Remco Evenepoel stormed around the time trial course to take the stage, and his tenth victory of the season.
While the yellow jersey was decided today, all the other classifications had already been sewn up. Quinn Simmons takes the polka dot jersey, Michael Matthews wins the points competition and Sergio Higuita is the best young rider.
“I’m really happy," Evenepoel said after the finish. "It was a very difficult week for me with quite some up and downs. The last two days I felt better actually and then the day on the local laps I exploded completely. We were just not focused on those laps and we made some mistakes and that’s actually why I lost my GC completely. The other days I just tried to hang on as long as possible to try and move up in the GC every day and in the end I finished 11th or something. I think we focused on today’s time trial and I’m really happy I could win it. It was very close but the moment from when I saw Geraint in the last turn I knew that I won because I was counting on the TV screen how many seconds he needed to win. I knew it was going to be close but it's enough."
“The first days I felt quite OK but I missed some freshness during the last days. I felt that my shape was becoming better, I was feeling more fresh in the morning, my legs turned better. What came up today was actually really hard with the heat. I had a pace plan but I couldn’t keep up at all with the heat but then I could hold on quite a hard and equal power so I think that’s what made me win this time trial. I’m just super proud that I can finally win a WorldTour time trial because I came two times second and now to become first in front of two big champions is a big honour for me and a big step in my career. I think we can keep building on what we did today.”
“It’s super nice actually," overall winner Geraint Thomas said in his post-race interview. "I was second back in 2015 and second in the TT but Spilak overtook me and I lost that by about five seconds so it’s super nice to win here. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, especially after that narrow loss but it’s really nice to win in such a big race, such a hard race. For sure it’s the hottest race I’ve done, consistently, so I’m super happy.”
“I think especially with the heat you had to be conservative and not be too aggressive too quickly. The stage that Vlasov won that was a super hard day, they’ve all been tough to be fair, but just consistency, always being up there in the right place. Obviously we lost our leader in Yates which was unfortunate but to rally and do what we’ve done has been super satisfying.”
“I think as a team we can [compete with Pogačar and Roglič]. Man v man is a different story, they’re super talented and as we all know they’ve been the MVPs of the last couple of years but I think we’ve got a strong team. It’s just about staying healthy now - easier said than done these days - but we’ve got a strong team, we’re all motivated and we’re going to give our best."
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