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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

71st Tour de Suisse - PT

Switzerland, June 16-24, 2007

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Stage 7 - June 22: Ulrichen - Grimselpass, 125.7km

Live commentary by Bjorn Haake and Gregor Brown

Live coverage starts: 15:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:45 CEST

Complete live report

15:12 CEST    53.7km/72km to go
Gruezi and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the Queen stage of this year's Tour de Suisse. No less than three mountain tops higher than 2,000 metres have to be conquered today. The first two, the Furkapass and the Sustenpass are rated HC (hors catégorie) for the most difficult climb. The last one, the Grimselpass is "only" a category one climb, but is also over 2,000 metres high. The climb is 25 kilometres long, so a little less steep, which is why it is not rated HC.

In fact there are even sprint points to bed obtained on the last climb! Only in the Tour of Switzerland will you have a stage that is less than 4 kilometres long and sprint points on a 25-kilometre climb!

Robbie McEwen, the sprinter from Australia, and Oscar Freire, all-rounder from Spain, have decided to forfeit the sprint points today and packed their suitcases. Along with them the T-Mobile riders Guiseppe Guerini, Andreas Klier and Michael Rogers are heading home early, as is Cofidis rider Tristan Valentin.

15:34 CEST    57.7km/68km to go
The riders are passing the feed zone in Meien. This is always a tricky part of the race, as riders have to make sure to get their bags with food from the soigneurs waiting on the side of the road.

Once they load their back pockets they discard the cloth bags (popular souvenirs for the spectators), which sometimes can blow into someone else's spokes and cause a crash.

But this time everything went smoothly as the riders are chewing along.

15:36 CEST    58.7km/67km to go
Marcus Zberg, who was dangling between the front group and the peloton has managed to reach the ten others that are ahead by 4'38 over the peloton.

15:43 CEST    58.7km/67km to go
The riders are now about half way up the second climb of the day, the Sustenpass.

Some riders in the main field, among others Hubert Schwab (Quickstep-Innergetic), have trouble following the pace.

15:45 CEST   
The main topic of the peloton's talk was the hail storm from yesterday. Nobody had ever seen anything like that, with the hail having the size of a golf or even tennis ball (depending on who you asked).

15:48 CEST   
Most riders found shelter in garages, but the less lucky, who were on the attack (that'll teach you a lesson to attack at kilometre one) were out in the open. Some riders actually went into dog houses!

15:50 CEST   
You can read more details in the Hail in Switzerland news article.

15:54 CEST    68.7km/57km to go
The peloton has reduced the gap slightly to 4'15. Andreas Klöden is over six minutes behind in the overall, so current leader Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse d'Epargne) is not too worried for the moment.

15:55 CEST   
Chris Horner is in the front group. He is just putting on his rain jacket.

15:56 CEST   
Caisse d'Epargne is on the front of the main field, making the pace and sharing a bottle with each other.

15:58 CEST    69.7km/56km to go
The lead has dropped below the four minute mark. More riders in the break have put on their rain jackets. It is not as bad as yesterday, but certainly not fun to going downhill after heaving sweated up the mountain.

15:59 CEST   
The riders can see the snow covered mountain tops all around them. They are vanishing into a tunnel, which fortunately is lit.

16:03 CEST    70.7km/55km to go
The front group has passed the mountain top. They get there in the following order:

1. Daniel Navarro
2. Vladimir Gusev
3. Marzio Bruseghin
4. Patrice Halgand
5. Andreas Klöden

16:05 CEST   
The field has now passed the top as well. They are descending down into the valley. The are riding in a long line while taking one switchback after the other.

It is lush and green and a great place to take a break and enjoy the view - if you are on a training ride.

16:06 CEST    76.7km/49km to go
The riders are passing an area of a recent rock slide. The clean up work is still going on.

16:07 CEST   
There are quite a few tunnels to ride through. The one they are passing now is underneath a waterfall. Stunning scenery.

16:08 CEST   
The gap has not changed much since the downhill has started. It is now 4'01.

It is always easier for a small group to go down the hill where it is easier to pick a good line.

16:10 CEST   
The main field is moving down at 70km/h - no pedalling required.

16:12 CEST   
There is a steep drop on one side of the road. The riders are now reaching a tree covered area. There are some patches of fog hanging around.

16:13 CEST    84.7km/41km to go
The lead of the front group, which contains American Chris Horner, is at 4'18.

They are using the downhill to their advantage and increase the lead.

16:17 CEST   
Beat Zberg and Matthew White are off the front from the main field as they pass the town of Gadmen, which is guarded by the army on the left and right of the road.

16:18 CEST   
Martin Elmiger (Ag2r Prévoyance) is hammering on the front here. What a beautiful style he has on these wet roads. His fore-arms are resting on the tops of the handlebars... Scanning up to his jersey we notice the Swiss bands of a former national champion. Pay attention, this is how to ride a bike.

He 20" on the chasers.

16:20 CEST   
Vladimir Efimkin has put on a vest. His yellow jersey is hardly visible.

16:22 CEST    94.7km/31km to go
The group containing Chris Horner is chasing Elmiger. They are eight in this group and are about 20" behind.

16:23 CEST   
The main field has now dropped back further and is at 5'13.

16:24 CEST   
Caisse d'Epargne is leading the field. They are going into the corners carefully as the road is slightly wet.

16:26 CEST    98.7km/27km to go
Elmiger is at the end of the descent, taking the left hand turn at full speed.
He arrives at the intermediate sprint.

16:26 CEST   
Gusev and Beat Zberg are 31 seconds behind.

16:27 CEST   
The rest of the group including Klöden and Horner are at 1'11.

16:28 CEST   
It is actually Beat Zberg, not his brother Marcus, who is in the front. They both ride for Gerolsteiner.

16:30 CEST   
Elmiger is now in the tough spot of being by himself through the valley. He is still 30 seconds ahead of the duo behind and 1'15 over the group of eight.

The peloton is at 5'30.

16:30 CEST   
It has started to rain. Zberg and Gusev are now closing in on the front rider.

16:31 CEST    102.7km/23km to go
Gusev accelerates, passes Elmiger and gaps Zberg. But he can catch back up and Elmiger also gets on their wheel.

16:33 CEST   
Gusev's jersey is unzipped and wide open. A Russian will think any temperature above freezing is summer time weather.

16:36 CEST    103.7km/22km to go
Gusev attacks at the beginning of the final climb! It is 22 kilometres to go.

16:38 CEST   
Horner is looking good in the group behind, but can they catch the front?

16:39 CEST   
The Zberg brothers are both in the front groups, but Marcus has now been dropped.

16:40 CEST    105.7km/20km to go
Gusev of Discovery Channel is riding along on the front, looking good. The team car comes up to give last minute advice. Or maybe just a bit of draft.

16:42 CEST   
Gusev adjust his helmets, then goes out of the saddle for a steeper section of the climb. He is now entering one of the gazillion tunnels.

16:42 CEST   
And about half a minute later it is Beat Zberg who goes into the dark.

16:43 CEST   
Then Elmiger, who has paid for his earlier attack.

16:44 CEST   
The group with Horner is further back and is now dropping Halgand.

16:45 CEST    107.7km/18km to go
Gusev has just won the "sprint"! It is 18 more kilometres.

16:46 CEST   
He is riding through more construction area. The storms definitely leave a lot of damage behind.

16:47 CEST   
The Horner group is 2 minutes behind Gusev.

Halgand is at 2'22

16:48 CEST   
Beat Zberg got second at the sprint points and Steve Zampieri (Cofidis) third.

16:49 CEST   
The gap between Zberg and Gusev is about 50"

16:50 CEST   
In the peloton it is still Caisse d'Epargne on the front. For a little while a Rabobank rider was pulling until someone told him they don't have anybody up in GC.

16:51 CEST    110.7km/15km to go
The field has now reached the sprint. They are 6 minutes back. Efimkin has taken off the vest and again displays his yellow jersey.

16:53 CEST   
Other riders are also taking off their rain jackets.

16:53 CEST    111.7km/14km to go
Chris Horner attacks!

16:54 CEST   
An update on T-Mobile, who now only has five riders in the race: Italian climber Giuseppe Guerini is suffering from stomach problems. Rogers, the team's hope for the Tour de France, is having knee problems and is going home for physical therapy.

"I am certain that the problem will pass soon so that I can make a quick return to intensive training," he said. His home is in Switzerland.

16:54 CEST   
The American decided that he didn't get enough help from the break, which contains two Astana riders and went.

16:56 CEST   
It is now Gusev by himself, ahead of Zberg. The Horner, who is trying to catch the Swiss guy.
Then a group of four with Klöden, Zampieri, Bruseghin, Navarro

16:58 CEST   
Horner reaches Zberg!

16:59 CEST   
Laurens Ten Dam and Marcus Zberg have now been caught by the field.

17:00 CEST    113.7km/12km to go
The field is now going through the tunnel that the front guys passed several minutes earlier.

17:01 CEST   
Horner has now left Zberg behind! The American is on fire.

17:01 CEST   
Oscar Sevilla has won in France. The Spaniard took the second stage of the Route du Sud over Giunti of team Miche.

17:02 CEST   
But he still is 1'48 behind Gusev, who is riding strongly up the final climb of the day. The climb is not too steep, good for a power rider. If Gusev doesn't crack it'll be tough for the US rider to catch up.

17:04 CEST    114.7km/11km to go
And Gusev is looking good. His jersey wide open, he even looks a bit at the mountains around him. And is passing another tunnel - no, they guide them around the right onto a very, very narrow road.

17:05 CEST   
This must be the old road to the top. Horner is just now reaching the turnoff, at 1'52"

17:06 CEST   
The peloton is still on the main road, over six minutes behind.

17:08 CEST   
Klöden and Navarro have left the other two and caught up with Zberg. So this trio is now behind Horner and Gusev, who is still a couple of minutes ahead of the American.

17:09 CEST   
Horner, riding along in second, must be overwhelmed by this mountain. The road seems to be cut out of the vertical face of the mountain, which is all grey and green. The colours are very crisp and clean here in Suisse.

The American has about a four-metre wide road, which is plenty for climbing.

17:10 CEST    116.7km/9km to go
Gusev is still looking good. He grabs the handle bars on the top and storms uphill, occasionally going out of the saddle to get more power and to stretch a bit.

17:11 CEST    117.7km/8km to go
Gusev is riding towards a big dam. He passes the eight-kilometre mark.

17:12 CEST   
Horner is riding up - we will see shortly how far he is behind.

17:13 CEST   
The main field has shrunk in size. They are also on the narrower road now.

17:14 CEST   
The average gradient is 6%, with a maximum of 12%. The climb is 23 kilometres long.

17:15 CEST   
Gusev is now on top of the dam, riding next to the lake.

17:16 CEST   
Gusev is passing the six kilometres to go sign. There is currently no info on how far Horner is back. But he is still well ahead of the trio behind.

17:17 CEST   
Yesterday's winner Thomas Dekker is safely placed in the main field.

17:18 CEST    119.7km/6km to go
Chris Horner is reported to be 1'35 back. So he gained a good 15 seconds since they entered the small road, with about 10km to go.

17:19 CEST   
This is not coming down quick enough for Horner to still catch Gusev.

17:19 CEST   
Zampieri grimaces. The climb is really long.

17:20 CEST   
The field is also close on Zampieri's back. Another reason to not look happy.

17:21 CEST   
Efimkin still has four teammates around him. This is looking good as nobody has tried to attack yet.

17:21 CEST    121.7km/4km to go
Gusev passes the 4km to go sign. He is still going strong.

17:22 CEST   
The main field is now riding around the lake. Caisse d'Epargne keeps the pace up high so nobody will attack their yellow jersey.

17:23 CEST    122.7km/3km to go
Gusev is now at the three kilometres to go sign. He is zipping up his jersey. Is he getting cold now???

17:24 CEST   
Oh, he actually fiddled with it for some other reason. It is still flying full swing in the wind.

17:25 CEST   
There are already some barriers. They weren't needed at there aren't many spectators at this point. It is too cold. But at least the sponsors can get a word in.

17:26 CEST   
Glomser has attacked out of the main field!

17:27 CEST   
He finished second yesterday, but left it too late today. He can get 6th at best, which still would be great for Volksbank.

17:27 CEST    123.7km/2km to go
Gusev is less than 2 km from a stage win.

17:28 CEST   
Glomser is labouring hard to stay ahead of the field. He has 12 seconds right now

17:29 CEST   
Gusev is now entering the foggy area. Cars are parked on the left. He is 250m from the GPM (Grand Prix de la Montagne).

17:29 CEST   
Devolder also left the main field and has caught up with Glomser.

17:30 CEST   
Gusev passes the flamme rouge - one more kilometre.

17:31 CEST   
Not much news on Horner, who should be coming in second.

17:31 CEST    124.7km/1km to go
Efimkin in the field has the overall under control.

17:32 CEST   
Gusev can't see the finish, it is too foggy.

17:32 CEST   
Glomser and Devolder won't stay away. The field is almost there.

17:33 CEST   
Gusev enters the last 100 metres.

17:33 CEST   
He raises his arms and rolls across the finish!!!

17:33 CEST   
A great victory for Discovery Channel.

17:34 CEST   
Gusev enters the tent where he can relax before the doping control and the ceremony.

17:34 CEST   
Cunego tries to attack!

17:35 CEST   
But Kirchen is on him.

17:35 CEST   
And Efimkin

17:35 CEST   
Horner is hard to see as he crosses the foggy finish line. He is 2 minute behind, but second is awesome!

17:36 CEST   
Klöden gets third before Bruseghin. Zberg comes in a few seconds later.

17:37 CEST   
Last minute attack by Cunego! 400m to go

17:37 CEST   
Kirchen has gapped the others and gets sixth.

17:38 CEST   
Cunego could not drop Efimkin to gain some time in the overall.

17:41 CEST   
Kirchen may have moved up a few spots in the overall.

17:42 CEST   
Gusev actually crashed right after the line. As helpers tried to stop him he locked up his front wheel and went face first over the bars. But he is not hurt.

17:43 CEST   
Kirchen moved up into second overall with his last minute attack!

17:45 CEST   
The reigning champion of Luxembourg is some 20" behind Efimkin.

It is close and there should be some more interesting racing this weekend. Hope you join us again at around 15:30 tomorrow here at Cyclingnews

Provisional Results

1 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel
2 Chris Horner (USA) Predictor-Lotto
3 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana
4 Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
5 Beat Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner
6 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile
7 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne
8 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
9 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne
 
General classification after stage 7
 
1 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne
2 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile

 

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