Germany's Jan Ullrich is hoping to cling on to his leader's yellow jersey in the eighth stage of the Tour de Suisse on Tuesday, a 170 kilometre stretch from Locarno to La Punt in eastern Switzerland.
Ullrich managed to stay ahead of his main rivals after the gruelling seventh stage on Monday, a 171 kilometre ride from Locarno to Lugano in the blazing heat. It was won by Italy's Marco Fincato in just over three hours and 58 minutes.
The highest placed Swiss cyclists in the race were Mauro Gianetti and Armin Meier who came sixth and seventh respectively.
Ullrich finished with the pack, 26 seconds behind Fincato. Switzerland's Oscar Camenzind finished at the same time as Ullrich, and is third in the overall standings.
Ullrich said the next two stages will be decisive for the whole tour. However, the German, who won the 1997 Tour de France, added he was not aiming to win this particular tour. "For me, it is not all about winning the Tour de Suisse overall. It's more important to consider the event as the optimal preparation for the Tour de France."
Ullrich also dismissed his competitors, saying his only fears were that his own Telekom teammates could be under a bit too much pressure during the races. He said the last two uphill stretches of the seventh stage were tough but he was satisfied that his teammates were able to keep their edge.
A disappointed Oscar Camenzind poured cold water on the Telekom team's protests that it was not out to try to win the Tour de Suisse. He told reporters, "If they didn't covet the yellow jersey, they would not feel threatened by every single advance from another competitor."
swissinfo with agencies
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