65th Tour de Suisse - 2.HC
Switzerland, June 19 - 28, 2001
Stage 5 - June 23: Widnau/Heerbrugg - St Gotthard pass, 220.6 km
Complete Live Report
Start time: 1035 CEST
Welcome to cyclingnews.com's coverage of the fifth stage of the Tour de Suisse. Today's stage is the longest in the race at 220 km, and also one of the hardest, with the 2044 metre Oberalp pass followed by two climbs of the 2091 metre St Gotthard pass, once from each side, with the finish at the summit on the second ascent. There is a total of 4037 metres to be climbed during the stage, almost entirely in the final 100 km, and just to add to the fun some of the final climb is cobbled.
The story so far: a group of seven riders broke away after 27 km: Dimitri Konyshev, Nicolas Jalabert, Robert Sassone, Rolf Aldag, Daniele Contrini, Pedro Horillo and Matthias Buxhofer. None were realistic threats to the main contenders on GC (best placed is Jalabert, 22nd at 2.54) and none really have the climbing credentials to be going for the stage win, so it looks like an attempt to show the flag, limit the damage and collect whatever's going along the way. Sassone and Horrillo were dropped on and just after the third-cat climb at Flims (105 km, prime to Konyshev) after playing the accordion for a while; at the spint at 146 km (taken by Buxhofer) the remaining 5 leaders were about twelve minutes up on the bunch. Two retirements during the earlier part of the stage: Scott McGrory and Paolo Savoldelli.
15:10 CEST 180 km/39 km to go
The five leaders are now tackling the first slopes of the St Gotthard, with a lead of around 8 minutes over the first half of the bunch, which has lost the dead wood over the Overalp pass. Nicolas Jalabert is virtual leader. Conditions are fine and sunny, although the temperatures at the top of the pass are only about 12 C. This is the easier side of the pass.
Race leader Gianluca Bortolami is in trouble early on on the St Gotthard, and waves goodbye to the TV cameras.
Jalabert and Konyshev open a gap from the rest of the break, although Buxhofer is trying to get across. Lead just under 8 minutes, and Garzelli is reported as being in trouble in the bunch. Jalabert too having problems staying with Konyshev who is alone in the lead.
The bunch is now down to fifty or so riders, with the chase led by the Zberg brothers and US Postal.
15:37 CEST, 192 km/ 29 km to go
Konyshev crossed the summit alone and is showing off his descending skills on the wide main road. The main group, now down to 35 or so riders led by the Zbergs and Armstrong, riding a steady tempo come through 6.12 behind.
15:47 CEST, 207 km/14 km to go
Konyshev stretches his lead by a few seconds at the foot of the descent, as Bortolami comes over the top more than 12 minutes down.
As the main bunch starts the climb back up the old road (known as the Tremola), Markus Zberg drops off, having done his work for his brother. Up in front, Konyshev is on the cobbled section of the climb. Not Paris Roubaix stuff, but still rough enough to make things tricky.
Mauro Gianetti making the pace for Alex Zülle, with the tempo making it too difficult for a few at the back of the group, including last year's wimmer Oskar Camenzind and Tyler Hamilton. Vinokourov - 2nd on GC and probably leader on the road - is at the back of the string with 18 riders left in the contenders' group. 7 km to go for Konyshev - this is the steepest section of the climb, at 17%.
Laurent Dufaux is dropped from the group. As Gianetti sits up the group pauses for a moment and Manuel Garate attacks, and is joined by Marcelino Garcia, teammates of Simoni and Laurent Jalabert respectively who are in the group behind. On the 17% section Zülle and Cattai are dropped from the group.
At the 5 km to go banner Konyshev has just under 5 minutes lead still - an excellent ride but probably not enough. On this climb that five minutes equates to about 1 km on the road; behind, Garate and Garcia are caught but Garate attacks again.
Under the 5 km banner the main group has split under the pressure from Garate and Simoni. With them are Belli, Armstrong and a Beltran; Beat Zberg looks to be coming across to them.
Zberg has not got across. Pressure from Simoni was enough to get rid of Armstrong and Garate temporarily, but Belli, with his teammate Konyshev still 3:50 in front, broke up the rhythm and the pair came back.
Armstrong is dropped, but after a brief conversation on the batphone he resumes a steady tempo, with Zberg closing down on him from behind. Konyshev is now a mere 500 metres from the finish and should win the stage, although he seems almost stationary - this is a serious climb. He's certainly earnt it - 185 km on the attack.
Konyshev takes the stage; Simoni gets his second second place in two days and Belli, third, is far enough ahead of Armstrong to take the overall lead
Result (unofficial) 1 Dimitri Konyshev (Rus) Fassa Bortolo 5.56.08 2 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 1.57 3 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 4 Manuel Beltrán Martinez (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step 5 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Lampre-Daikin 2.22 6 Beat Zberg (Swi) Rabobank 2.34 7 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service 8 Laurent Jalabert (Fra) CSC-World Online 3.38 9 Daniel Schnider (Swi) La Francaise Des Jeux 3.41 10 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner 11 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Deutsche Telekom 12 Marcelino Garcia (Spa) CSC-World Online 13 Udo Bölts (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom 4.08 14 Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Post Swiss Team 4.46 15 Laurent Dufaux (Swi) Saeco-Macchine Per Caffé 16 Iñigo Cuesta Lopez (Spa) Cofidis 17 Stefano Cattai (Ita) Liquigas-Pata 18 Mauro Gianetti (Swi) Team Coast 19 Oscar Camenzind (Swi) Lampre-Daikin 5.24 20 Tomas Konecny (Cze) Domo-Farm Frites 5.36 General classification after stage 5 1 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 2 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 0.01 3 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service 0.25 4 Manuel Beltran Martinez (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step 0.30 5 Beat Zberg (Swi) Rabobank 0.31 6 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Lampre-Daikin 0.39 7 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Deutsche Telekom 1.20 8 Laurent Jalabert (Fra) CSC-World Online 1.28 9 Daniel Schnider (Swi) La Francaise Des Jeux 10 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner