Tour de Suisse Cycling News for June 11, 2006
Edited by Jeff Jones
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Tour de Suisse stage 1 wrap-up
Another bouquet for Boonen
By Shane Stokes in Baden
Tom Boonen (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: AFP
World champion Tom Boonen has done it again, winning the opening stage
of the Tour of Switzerland to take his seventeenth win of the season.
The Quick.Step rider outsprinted Lampre's Daniel Bennati, former rainbow
jersey Oscar Freire (Rabobank) plus 79 other riders at the end of the
mainly flat 154.8 kilometre stage to Baden and took the first yellow jersey
in the process.
Sprint rivals Robbie McEwen (Davitamon Lotto) and Erik Zabel (Team Milram)
were part of a 67 man group which lost contact with the peloton on a short
but very steep fourth category climb, which came on the second of two
The sunny first stage was marked by a long distance lone break by Astana
Würth rider José Antonio Redondo Ramos. The Spaniard broke clear 24 kilometres
after the start in Baden and opened up a maximum lead of 8 minutes and
45 seconds by kilometre 66. The gap dropped to 4 minutes 30, after which
Michael Albasini (Liquigas) and compatriot Steve Zampieri (Phonak) rocketed
away from the bunch on the fourth category Baldingen/Rüti climb, with
around 60 km to go. They bridged up to the leader 20 kilometres later
and then dropped him on the second ascent of the steep Hertenstein climb.
However the main bunch reeled them in with six kilometres left. Lorenzo
Bernucci (T-Mobile) tried his luck two kilometres later but the teams
of Freire and Boonen were too strong, delivering their leaders to the
finish where they and Bennati scrapped it out between them for the win
and the first yellow jersey.
for the results, report and photos
Davitamon-Lotto dry run for Robbie
By Shane Stokes in Baden
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Former US national champion Fred Rodriguez is one of several riders at
the Tour of Switzerland who are expecting to accompany team sprinter extraordinaire
Robbie McEwen to the Tour de France next month. Speaking to Cyclingnews
before the start of stage one in Baden, Rodriguez explained that they
will be using the race to test things out.
"Things are going well," he stated. "I am just beginning my buildup
for the Tour de France. This is the first race to test the team and see
how we are going with a view to the Tour. So we will try to get a good
"This is basically the same group which did Switzerland and the Tour
last year. We are here to support Robbie. Gert Steegmans has been riding
really well this year so I think we will have a slightly stronger leadout
team [in the Tour]. We are going to play around with it a little and see
what kind of combination we can come up with."
McEwen was one of those who got tailed off on the tough finishing circuit
climb towards the end of the opening stage. Listed as a fourth category
ascent, the steepness of Hertenstein's slopes showed that this rating
was deceptive. However the team will try again tomorrow.
July is the big target for McEwen, and Rodriguez says that a victory
in Switzerland would give him an important psychological boost prior to
the Tour. "You have some big contenders here, such as Tom Boonen and Zabel,"
he points out. "So we want to show we are ready. It is not just about
the Tour, though – Switzerland is a big race in itself, it is a ProTour
event. A good result here is important for that reason too."
Rogers over teeth problems, building form for Tour
Michael Rogers (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Bounding back after bad teeth problems forced him out of the Giro d'Italia,
Australian Michael Rogers is hoping for a strong ride in the Tour de Suisse.
He was second overall last year, only losing the race lead when final
winner Aitor Gonzalez went on a bit attack on the final stage, and says
that if he has the form he would try to do a good ride again.
"I will do the best I can," he stated. "I don't know how I am going,
though. In training I have been feeling alright but racing is a different
thing. So it is a bit of a case of finding my legs and seeing how I go
"I am not feeling too bad after the Giro. I had quite a few problems
with my teeth and had an operation to fix that. I had some really bad
gum infections, basically. In fixing it, I had my wisdom teeth out and
then had a lot of work done under the gums, so I hope everything goes
a bit better now."
Rogers is here due to those dental problems. He was due to follow a
different path to the Tour, but he and team had a rethink after he pulled
out in Italy. "I was originally supposed to finish the Giro and then maybe
do Asturias in Spain. But I missed the last ten days in the Giro and so
I feel I need a bit more racing to get into my best shape."
The 26 year old was with the Quick.Step team last year but now has changed
to the magenta jersey of the T-Mobile squad. He feels that the team can
do something big this July. "The team morale is really good," he stated.
"Jan [Ullrich] is in really good shape and when he is good, everyone is
motivated and willing to ride well."
Freire back in action
Former world champion Oscar Freire
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
The good 2006 results notched up by Tom Boonen and Robbie McEwen so
far means that they will be receiving most of the pre-race attention vis-à-vis
the bunch sprints here in Switzerland, but another who could well be up
there in big finishes is triple world champion Oscar Freire. He hasn't
competed much of late but was in good form before the stage start, saying
he was looking forward to the week.
"I am feeling very good but I haven't raced. So it impossible to know
my condition now. After today I will know whether I will be good for the
week or not."
The talented Spaniard duly placed third on the opening leg behind Tom
Boonen and Daniele Bennati and with a little sharpening of form, could
get a win in Switzerland.
Freire missed much of last year due to a big cyst in the saddle area
but with that successfully treated, he's set some big goals for 2006.
Should he take the rainbow jersey again, he would be the pro rider with
the most such victories in the history of the sport. "I am targeting the
Tour de France, then the remaining Classics and the World Championships.
My biggest goal is in September, though." [The Worlds – ed]
When asked if he would be looking at stages or the maillot vert
in the Tour, Freire gave a logical answer. "Maybe both! If you can win
stages there, then you can win the Green Jersey too. But the problem is
to start winning… That's the first priority."
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)