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93rd Züri Metzgete - Championship of Zurich - ProT
Switzerland, October 1, 2006
Sammy Sanchez caps off a big year
By Jeff Jones
Samuel Sanchez created a small piece of history today by becoming the first Euskaltel-Euskadi rider to win a one day classic. At the end of what was another wet edition of the Züri Metzgete, Sanchez attacked a leading group of six with 12 km to go to solo into Zurich with half a minute to spare over CSC's Stuart O'Grady and Gerolsteiner's Davide Rebellin. It was a huge win for the Basque rider, who last week finished fourth in the World Championships and was also fifth in this race a year ago.
"I did not think I would win until I saw the finish," said Sanchez. "I looked back and couldn't see anything, so I had to go all the way to the end. I felt enormous emotion, I've worked a lot to win this and now that I have succeeded, I feel a huge satisfaction and happiness.
"I have always liked the Zurich race," continued the Euskaltel rider, who said that he wasn't bothered by the rain. "The parcours is very exciting, and it's a race that you have to start in very good form, and besides it's well suited to my abilities. Last year I was already with the best, although Bettini was super that day. I finished fifth with Di Luca, and I already had good sensations. This time I was a little bit better, and managed to win."
Sanchez has had a good season, winning two stages in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco and another in the Vuelta a España, where he was seventh overall. He also won a stage in the Vuelta a Asturias and finished second in Fleche Wallonne. He also signed a new contract with Euskaltel this week. "With this victory in Zurich, I think that the work has been rounded off."
Stuart O'Grady came close to another one day classic win, but couldn't quite capitalise on the strength of CSC in the finale. His workhorse Cancellara had been in too many moves in the last two laps, and couldn't quite keep things together for O'Grady's sprint. Team CSC director Kim Andersen admitted to team-csc.com that Sanchez was simply the strongest rider today. "We almost succeeded in our plan, but unfortunately they had to let go on the climb at the end. But that being said, they deserve great credit for fighting their way back as they did. Under the circumstances we have every reason to be satisfied with the outcome of today, especially as we also took the first place in the team's competition, which was one of our goals today."
With Alejandro Valverde not racing today, the ProTour rankings didn't undergo too many changes, save for the fact that Sanchez moved up to second overall, still more than 100 points behind Valverde. That means that Valverde doesn't even have to race in the next two races to win the ProTour.
How it unfolded
The 93rd Züri Metzgete started under grey skies with more than a threat of rain. Just like last year, it rained on and off for the whole day, making the race a real elimination job. 169 riders started, with Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrey Kashechkin the notable absentees, the two Kazakhstanis having decided to end their seasons after the World's.
The first breakaway was established after 25 km, when Japanese champion Fumiyuki Beppu (Discovery Channel) attacked together with Frenchman Jeremy Roy (Française des Jeux) and Michele Gobbi (Milram). The peloton had no interest in the move, and after the big 72.5 km circuit, the three had 17'00 lead. That was considered enough, and as they hit the four 41 km finishing circuits, the big teams started to chase.
Michele Gobbi was the first to be dropped from the break as the rain and the tough climbs up to Forch and the Pfannenstiel took their toll. Paolo Bettini, racing for the first time in the rainbow jersey, was also not on a great day. He punctured early on and was never really a protagonist, with the effort of the previous week still in his legs. He eventually called it a day with one lap (41 km) to go, and it was the first time in six years that he hadn't finished on the podium.
The two remaining leaders found their task to be a tough one. They reached two laps to go with just 4'48 over a group of 38 riders that had split off the front of the peloton on the third finishing circuit. The rest followed at 30 seconds, including major players like Boogerd, Paolini, Sanchez, O'Grady and Rebellin. Fabian Cancellara (CSC) was in the front group, along with Di Luca (Liquigas), Gilbert (Française des Jeux) and Tosatto (Quick.Step), and at one stage the big chasing peloton was more than two minutes behind, led by Cofidis.
Beppu and Roy made it to the Pfannenstiel on lap 3, but were caught before halfway by Di Luca (Liquigas), Cancellara (CSC), Leukemans (Davitamon), Tosatto (Quick.Step), and Van Goolen (Discovery). Szmyd (Lampre) and Moletta (Gerolsteiner) managed to get across over the top as Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) rode a hard tempo for Boogerd in the bunch, 1'05 behind. On the wet and technical descent into Zurich, the seven leaders were caught by a splinter group containing Gilbert (FDJ), Visconti (Milram), Flecha (Rabobank) and Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne). But the bunch had consolidated itself behind, and Rabobank and Cofidis were slowly bringing the leaders to heel.
On the bell lap, the peloton was just 15 seconds behind the front riders, and despite a last ditch effort by Gilbert, Leukemans, Cancellara and Di Luca to stay clear, it was all together with 33 km to go on the first climb of the last lap. This is when the decisive breakaway formed, as Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel), Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), Stijn Devolder (Discovery), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) and CSC's Stuart O'Grady and the impressive Cancellara got a gap, riding the rest of the peloton into pieces.
At the top of the climb with 29 km to go, the six in front had a comfortable half minute on a group of 11 containing Pozzato, Schleck, Kroon, Sorensen, Wegmann, Leukemans, Di Luca, Evans, Moreni, Gusev and Gilbert. The presence of three CSC riders in this group prevented the cooperation necessary to catch the front riders, and despite some good work from Pozzato and Leukemans, they could not get closer than 20 seconds at the base of the Pfannenstiel.
The leaders stayed together until less than a kilometre from the summit, when Sanchez, Boogerd and Rebellin attacked and dropped the other three with 17 km to go. Devolder could not come back, but Cancellara eventually returned to O'Grady and dragged the Australian back to the leaders just before the short, sharp climb up from Wetzwil with 12 km left. Sanchez waited until he was near the top to put in his winning attack, and Boogerd, Rebellin and O'Grady simply didn't have the legs to chase the Euskaltel man any more. Cancellara also found himself alone again, but was able to return after the descent.
Sanchez made it to the bottom of the descent with 11 seconds, and despite the efforts of all four behind him, he managed to push it out to 20 seconds with 1 kilometre to go, allowing himself plenty of time to celebrate his biggest victory and the first classic win by an Euskaltel rider ever. O'Grady was able to hold off Rebellin for second at half a minute, while Boogerd and Cancellara rounded out the top five.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti
Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net
1 Samuel Sanchez (Esp) Euskaltel-Euskadi 6.03.47 (38.54 km/h) 2 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team CSC 0.30 3 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 4 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 5 Fabian Cancellara (Sui) Team CSC 0.36 6 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone 7 Nicki Sorensen (Den) Team CSC 8 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 1.17 9 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas 1.20 10 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick Step - Innergetic 11 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner 12 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team CSC 13 Daniele Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile Team 1.30 14 Alexander Efimkin (Rus) Barloworld 1.32 15 Luca Paolini (Ita) Liquigas 16 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Crédit Agricole 17 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 18 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon - Lotto 19 Martin Elmiger (Sui) Phonak Hearing Systems 20 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Team Milram 21 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step - Innergetic 22 Chris Horner (USA) Davitamon - Lotto 23 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 24 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC 25 David Loosli (Sui) Lampre-Fondital 26 Riccardo Ricco (Ita) Saunier Duval - Prodir 1.52 27 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française des Jeux 4.30 28 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 5.34 29 Vicente Reynes (Esp) Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears 30 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears 31 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Team Milram 32 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Team Milram 33 Pauriol Rémy (Fra) Crédit Agricole 34 Michael Albasini (Sui) Liquigas 35 Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 36 Pablo Lastras (Esp) Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears 37 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Crédit Agricole 38 Kurt Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC 39 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quick Step - Innergetic 40 Stephane Goubert (Fra) AG2R Prevoyance 41 Oliver Zaugg (Sui) Saunier Duval - Prodir 42 Igor Anton (Esp) Euskaltel-Euskadi 43 Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Lampre-Fondital 44 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone 45 Andrea Moletta (Ita) Gerolsteiner 46 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) T-Mobile Team 47 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Team Milram 48 Antonio Flecha (Esp) Rabobank 8.13 49 Felix Cardenas (Col) Barloworld 8.37 50 Bjorn Leukemans (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto 11.29 51 Vasseur Cedric (Fra) Quick Step - Innergetic 52 Gerben Lowik (Ned) Rabobank 12.40 53 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone 54 Lars Bak (Den) Team CSC 14.59 55 Volodymyr Bileka (Ukr) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 56 Inaki Isasi (Esp) Euskaltel-Euskadi 17.11 57 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Cofidis, le Credit par Telephone 58 Pedro Arreitunandia (Esp) Barloworld 59 Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R Prevoyance 18.11 60 Guido Trentin (Ita) Saunier Duval - Prodir 61 Eric Leblacher (Fra) Fran?ise des Jeux 62 Matthieu Sprick (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 63 Mikel Astarloza (Esp) AG2R Prevoyance 64 Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Crédit Agricole DNF Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step - Innergetic DNF Davide Vigano (Ita) Quick Step - Innergetic DNF Hubert Schwab (Sui) Quick Step - Innergetic DNF José Humberto Rujano (Ven) Quick Step - Innergetic DNF Inigo Cuesta (Esp) Team CSC DNF Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Française des Jeux DNF Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Française des Jeux DNF Bradley Mc Gee (Aus) Française des Jeux DNF Sébastien Joly (Fra) Française des Jeux DNF Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française des Jeux DNF Leod Ian Mc (RSA) Française des Jeux DNF Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Lampre-Fondital DNF Gordaz Stangelj (Slo) Lampre-Fondital DNF Aurélien Clerc (Sui) Phonak Hearing Systems DNF Florian Stalder (Sui) Phonak Hearing Systems DNF Steve Morabito (Sui) Phonak Hearing Systems DNF Uros Murn (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems DNF Victor Hugo Pena (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems DNF Grégory Rast (Sui) Phonak Hearing Systems DNF Johann Tschopp (Sui) Phonak Hearing Systems DNF Andoni Aranaga (Esp) Euskaltel-Euskadi DNF Koldo Fernandez (Esp) Euskaltel-Euskadi DNF Inigo Landaluze (Esp) Euskaltel-Euskadi DNF Iban Mayoz (Esp) Euskaltel-Euskadi DNF Ruben Pérez (Esp) Euskaltel-Euskadi DNF Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team DNF Michael Barry (Can) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team DNF Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team DNF Benjamin Noval (Esp) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team DNF Theo Eltink (Ned) Rabobank DNF Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Rabobank DNF Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank DNF Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank DNF Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank DNF Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Crédit Agricole DNF Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Crédit Agricole DNF Benoît Poilvet (Fra) Crédit Agricole DNF Sébastien Portal (Fra) Crédit Agricole DNF Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto DNF Pieter Mertens (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto DNF Wim Van Huffel (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto DNF Dario Cioni (Ita) Liquigas DNF Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas DNF Andrea Noe (Ita) Liquigas DNF Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas DNF Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Liquigas DNF Olivier Bonnaire (Fra) Bouygues Telecom DNF Pierre Drancourt (Fra) Bouygues Telecom DNF Xavier Florencio (Esp) Bouygues Telecom DNF Yoann Le Boulanger (Fra) Bouygues Telecom DNF Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom DNF Walter Beneteau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom DNF Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom DNF Sven Montgomery (Sui) Gerolsteiner DNF Torsten Hiekmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner DNF Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner DNF Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner DNF Beat Zberg (Sui) Gerolsteiner DNF Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis, le Crédit par Téléphone DNF Bingen Fernandez (Esp) Cofidis, le Crédit par Téléphone DNF Frédéric Bessy (Fra) Cofidis, le Crédit par Téléphone DNF Amael Moinard (Fra) Cofidis, le Crédit par Téléphone DNF Michele Gobbi (Ita) Team Milram DNF Alessandro Cortinovis (Ita) Team Milram DNF Alberto Ongarato (Ita) Team Milram DNF Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Team Milram DNF Javier Mejias (Esp) Saunier Duval - Prodir DNF Alberto Fernandez (Esp) Saunier Duval - Prodir DNF Juan Cobo (Esp) Saunier Duval - Prodir DNF David Millar (Gbr) Saunier Duval - Prodir DNF Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile Team DNF Stephan Schreck (Ger) T-Mobile Team DNF Bernhard Kohl (Aut) T-Mobile Team DNF Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) T-Mobile Team DNF Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile Team DNF Steffen Wesemann (Sui) T-Mobile Team DNF Inigo Chaurreau (Esp) AG2R Prévoyance DNF Philip Deignan (Irl) AG2R Prévoyance DNF Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R Prévoyance DNF Simon Gerrans (Aus) AG2R Prévoyance DNF Carlos Abellan (Esp) Astana Team DNF Carlos Barredo (Esp) Astana Team DNF Koen De Kort (Ned) Astana Team DNF Aaron Kemps (Aus) Astana Team DNF Daniel Navarro (Esp) Astana Team DNF José Joaquin Rojas (Esp) Astana Team DNF Eladio Sanchez (Esp) Astana Team DNF Ivan Gutierrez (Esp) Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears DNF Nicolas Portal (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears DNF Mikel Pradera (Esp) Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears DNF Francisco Perez (Esp) Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears DNF Joaquin Rodriguez (Esp) Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears DNF Diego Caccia (Ita) Barloworld DNF Ryan Cox (RSA) Barloworld DNF Tiaan Kannemeyer (RSA) Barloworld DNF Hugo Sabido (Por) Barloworld DNF Mauro Facci (Ita) Barloworld DNF Harald Morscher (Aut) Team Vorarlberg DNF Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Team Vorarlberg DNF Andreas Matzbacher (Aut) Team Vorarlberg DNF Pascal Hungerbühler (Sui) Team Vorarlberg DNF Christoph Girschweiler (Sui) Team Vorarlberg DNF Fraser Mac Master (Nzl) Team Vorarlberg DNF Gregor Gut (Sui) Team Vorarlberg DNF Josef Benetseder (Aut) Team Vorarlberg
1 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Esp) Caisse D'epargne-Illes Balears 285 pts 2 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Esp) Euskaltel - Euskadi 173 3 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 162 4 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana-Würth Team 156 5 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 155 6 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step - Innergetic 154 7 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC 150 8 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 138 9 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 133 10 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana-Würth Team 121 11 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 118 12 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 117 13 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 114 14 Carlos Sastre Candil (Esp) Team CSC 114 15 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) Astana-Würth Team 110 16 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick Step - Innergetic 107 17 Fabian Cancellara (Sui) Team CSC 106 18 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 106 19 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 105 20 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole 104 21 Oscar Freire Gomez (Esp) Rabobank 99 22 José Angel Gomez Marchante (Esp) Saunier Duval - Prodir 97 23 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step - Innergetic 94 24 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) T-Mobile Team 90 25 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 89