A spirited ride by Rui Costa (Movistar) saw him fight off a stiff challenge from his Tour de Suisse rivals to keep hold of the race lead at the end of Saturday’s mountains stage.
Swiss rider Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) took the 2012 race’s first ‘home win’ as he soloed across the line having been part of an early four-man escape group but the fight for the overall lead was raging down the mountain.
Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) all put in a successful bid to gain time on Costa on the final ascent to Arosa. The trio finished one minute and 15 seconds behind Albasini.
Further back, overall leader Costa was being assisted up the mountain by Movistar team-mate Alejandro Valverde. The Spanish duo crossed the line 2-05 behind Albasini, but crucially managed to minimise the amount of time lost to Schleck, Nieve and Leipheimer.
Schleck now sits back in second place overall, just 14 seconds behind Costa. Defending champion Leipheimer is third at 21 seconds.
The race is still wide open with the 2012 race’s final stage in the mountains on Sunday. Expect to see more fireworks on the final climb to Sörenberg to sort out the final general classification.
Tour de Suisse 2012, stage eight: Bischofszell to Arosa, 148.2km
1. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge in 3-45-39
2. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 1-15
3. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
4. Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan at same time
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank at 1-36
6. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-BigMat
7. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Barracuda at same time
8. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank at 1-39
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 1-57
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) RadioShack-Nissan at same time
14. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar at 2-05
Overall classification after stage eight
1. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar in 29-58-39
2. Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan at 14 secs
3. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 21 secs
4. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank at 25 secs
5. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 40 secs
6. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 42 secs
7. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Barracuda at 43 secs
8. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank at 1-01
9. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 1-04
10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-BigMat at 1-13
Michael Albasini heads the day’s four-man escape group
Fabian Cancellara chases
Frank Schleck and Mikel Nieve put time into Rui Costa
Michael Albasini wins the stage
Rui Costa hangs on to overall lead
Tour de Suisse 2012: Related links
Stage eight photo gallery
Stage seven: Kessiakoff wins time trial
Stage seven photo gallery
Stage six: Sagan strikes again
Stage six photo gallery
Stage five: Isaychev wins from break
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four: Sagan wins again
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three: Sagan sprints to second Suisse stage win
Stage two: Costa denies Schleck stage two win in Tour de Suisse
Stage one: Sagan beats Cancellara in Tour de Suisse opening time trial