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Swiss Cancellara favorite for home win

HOME rider Fabian Cancellara is the favorite to win the Tour of Switzerland after a strong performance on the final mountain stage on Saturday.

German Tony Martin won the eighth and penultimate stage, a 181-kilometer journey from Le Sentier to Crans-Montana, with a late attack but Cancellara finished third to move within four seconds of overall leader Tadej Valjavec of Slovenia.

Last year's race winner Roman Kreuziger of Czech Republic is third, 28 seconds off the pace.

The Tour ends in Cancellara's home town of Berne with a 39km individual time trial.

The Swiss won the gold medal in the time trial at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and is widely expected to snatch victory from Valjavec.

"I won the opening time trial last Saturday but I honestly didn't think I had a chance of winning overall. I realized perhaps I could on Wednesday in Serfaus when I finished second on the tough finish," Cancellara told reporters.

"Fortunately I've been able to stay close to Valjavec which has also been thanks to some great work by my teammates. Now we'll see what happens in the time trial.

"It's a testing course and it will be an all-out 50-minute effort. That makes it difficult to say how it will go. I'm on form but so are a lot of other riders."

Martin gave Team Columbia its sixth victory of the race.

Like teammate Kim Kirchen on Friday, Martin attacked alone in the last kilometer and held off second-placed Italian Damiano Cunego. Cancellara was third, two seconds adrift.

"I tried to win yesterday but it didn't work out. This time I waited for the final 500 meters and went for it," said Martin.

"I saw Cunego was getting close but I made it to the finish."

Martin is an excellent time trialist but predicted Cancellara would win the final stage.

"I think I can do a good ride but I don't think anybody has a chance against Cancellara," he said.


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