Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) won the stage eight time trial, posting the only sub-22 minute time over the 19.2km course as Egan Bernal (Ineos) held on to the overall race lead.
At the start of the day Rohan Dennis (Bahrain-Merida) trailed Egan Bernal by 41 seconds in the overall classification, and as the final two set off from the start hut only the Australian was likely to overhaul Lampaert’s time of 21-58.
However, at the first time check Dennis was twelve seconds down, with Bernal also going better than expected, only 18 seconds down on Dennis.
Bernal then managed to avoid disaster, managing to stay upright despite going into a corner to hot, his back wheel kicking out and threatening to send him tumbling off his bike and out of the race lead. The young Colombian managed to stay upright, however,
Dennis crossed the finish in sixth place, 19 seconds down on Lampaerts, giving the Belgian the stage win. Bernal soon followed, racing into the finish, 38 seconds down on Lampaerts and thereforee limiting his losses to Dennis by 19 seconds.
With the final stage nine heading back uphill, Bernal survived the real last chance for Dennis to take the race lead off him on stage eight. The young Colombian is expected to hold on to his 22-second race lead on Sunday and take the overall victory.
How it happened
Stage eight’s individual time trial was flat affair, with under 100m of elevation over the 19.2km course, providing world time trial champion Rohan Dennis the ideal parcours for an assault on Egan Bernal’s yellow jersey, with the Colombian climber not expected to be able to match the power of the Australian across flat roads.
Tom Scully (EF Education First) set the best early time of 22-11, averaging just under 52kph over the course, with Benjamin Thomas (Groupama-FDJ) then coming through with the second quickest provisional time of 22-30.
Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Søren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) went considerably faster than Scully at the checkpoint, with Lampaert going on to set the fastest time of the day so far after passing Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) on his way to the finish line, with a time of 21-58.
Søren Kragh Andersen then came over the line in provisional second, ten seconds down on Lampaert, before he was usurped by another Dane, Kasper Asgreen, who went five seconds faster.
As the top ten on GC started to set off, Lawson Craddock (EF Education First) set the provisional tenth fastest time of 22-37. The last two to set off where Rohan Dennis (Bahrain-Merida) and Egan Bernal (Ineos), with the world time trial champion needing to beat the Colombian by 41 seconds to take the overall race lead.
Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) who protected Dennis on the final climb of stage seven was 1-02 down on Lampaert’s time at the checkpoint.
Dennis passed the checkpoint with a time of 12-48, 12 seconds slower than Lampaert, leaving him work to do to take the stage victory.
Bernal was then the last rider to go past the checkpoint, with a time that would only encourage the Colombian as he was 14th fastest, only 19 seconds down on Dennis and 31 seconds down on Lampaert.
Egan Bernal then nearly faced disaster, as he managed to not lose his back wheel after going into a corner too quickly, with Lampaert’s shocked reaction sitting in the hot seat reflecting how Ineos’ sports directors must have been feeling in the car behind the Colombian.
Rohan Dennis came across the line in sixth, 19 seconds down on Lampaerts, handing the stage win to the Belgian.
Egan Bernal crossed the line only 38 seconds down on Lampaerts, 19 seconds slower than Dennis, meaning he survived the test to his lead in the overall classification, and keeps the yellow jersey heading into tomorrow’s final stage in the mountains.
Tour de Suisse 2019, stage eight: Goms to Goms (19.2km)
1. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 21-58
2. Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at five seconds
3. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Sunweb, at 10s
4. Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education First, at 13s
5. Patrick Bevin (NZl) CCC, at same time
6. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Bahrain-Merida, at 19s
7. Stefan Küng (Sui) Groupama-FDJ, at 20s
8. Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 32s
9. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Sunweb, at 34s
10. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott, at 37s
General classification after stage eight
1. Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos, in 24-40-24
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Bahrain-Merida, at 22s
3. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-46
4. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 1-54
5. Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana, at 1-55
6. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 2-43
7. Enric Mas (Esp) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 2-53
8. Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 2-56
9. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Sunweb, at 3-17
10. Simon Špilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin, at same time