Dutch rider Robert Gesink closed in on the Tour of Switzerland title Saturday as he held the leader's yellow jersey after the eighth stage won by Portugal's Rui Faria da Costa.
Caisse d'Epargne rider da Costa, 23, finished 15sec ahead of teammate Jose Gil Rojas with Belgian Maxime Monfort of HTC Columbia 19sec off the pace after the 172km ride between Wetzikon and Liestalas.
Rabobank's Gesink crossed in the peloton over a minute behind the winner with the race concluding Sunday with a 26.9km time-trial around Liestal.
Gesink holds a 29sec lead over Colombian Rigoberto Uran with Swiss Steve Morabito at 36sec. Luxembourg's Frank Schleck is fourth at 38sec with seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong seventh overall at 55sec and Andy Schleck 11th at 1min 40sec.
"It was a tough day for the team, but we worked well together and that was nice to see," said Gesink. "Personally I felt very strong. It was a tight battle and I'll do everything to win the Tour of Switzerland."
RadioShack manager Johann Bruyneel believes Armstrong's title hopes are slim. "In theory (Armstrong) can win, but 55 seconds on Gesink is a lot over 27km," said Bruyneel.
"Gesink has a big lead, he's in form with a good mentality. The time-trial suits him and 55sec is a lot."
Faria da Costa made a break some 9km from the line, leaving his break-away companions Monfort, Rojas and Sandy Casar behind.
"We worked well together (with Rojas) that really helped me to win," said da Costa. "Winning on a big race like the Tour of Switzerland is great. It was a tough day but now my thoughts are turned towards the Tour de France."
Meanwhile, Luxembourg's Kim Kirchen remains in a stable condition after being placed in an artificial coma following a heart attack, his Katusha team said Saturday.
The 31-year-old, who finished seventh overall in the 2007 Tour de France, felt unwell and was hospitalised overnight Friday.
"Kim Kirchen is in a stable condition after the heart attack he suffered overnight yesterday (Friday)," his team said in a statement.
"The Luxembourger was placed in an artificial coma to better evaluate his condition. The rider must remain in this condition for at least another 24 hours."
Kirchen had been in 48th position after seven stages, 46sec behind Gesink.
© AFP 2010
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