Defending champ closes gap on Swiss tour leader

Defending champion Rui Costa of Portugal boosted his hopes of retaining his Tour of Switzerland cycling race title as he powered to victory on a gruelling seventh stage to close the gap on overall leader and Swiss rider Mathias Frank to 13 seconds.

Defending champ closes gap on Swiss tour leader
Rui Costa. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Costa was in a leading group of three riders alongside Dutchman Bauke Mollema and American Tejay van Garderen entering the final stages, but the pair were unable to match the Portuguese as he sprinted across the line on Friday.

"Our goal today was taking some seconds off the riders ahead of us in the overall (standings) and we didn't just do that, we also won the stage," said Costa.

"I am super happy although it was shame about the banner," added the Movistar rider, referring to a distance marker that fell onto the road just prior to the finish and briefly delayed the leaders.

"We lost around 10 seconds there which could be decisive, but the important thing is that I showed that I am in good form for (the concluding individual time-trial on) Sunday."

Mollema edged Van Garderen to second with Frenchman Thibaut Pinot, who took the points at the summit of the HC Albula Pass, dropped as the quartet tackled the final descent.

The 206-kilometre route from Meilen to La Punt featured four rated climbs, including a brutal 30-kilometre climb of the Albula Pass that peaked at 2,315 metres just inside the final 10 kilometres.

Switzerland's Frank came in ninth 22 seconds back, having been left behind by BMC teammate Van Garderen on the climb up the Albula, but remains in yellow with Da Costa breathing down his neck ahead of Saturday's eighth stage, a hilly 180.5-kilometre route from Zernez to Bad Ragaz.

The competition wraps up on Sunday.

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VIDEO: Why you may struggle to buy a bike in Europe in 2021

Demand for bicycles has soared in Europe during the coronavirus pandemic, but conversely the global supply is at record low levels, with consumers having to wait months or over a year for their bike of choice.

VIDEO: Why you may struggle to buy a bike in Europe in 2021
Photo: Stocksnap/Pixabay

Bikes are projected to outsell cars in Europe by two to one by 2030.   

But 2021 will not be an easy year to buy a bike in many European countries, especially if you have a particular model in mind. 

Firstly, there's been a huge surge in demand for bikes during the pandemic, as Europeans looked for ways to stay fit and move around more freely without having to worry about being exposed to Covid-19 on public transport.

On the flip side, bike production in China, which supplies almost the entire global market, has practically ground to a halt.

The same can be said for bicycle accessories and components, which are either not being produced in Chinese factories currently or held up for months in ports in Asia due to the reduction of capacity in shipping.


In this short report, video producer Alex Dunham explores the issue of Europe's bike shortage in 2021.