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Photo ©: Bettini

72nd Tour de Suisse - ProT

Switzerland, June 14-22, 2008

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Stage 5 - June 18: Domat-Ems - Caslano, 190km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Bjorn Haake

Hello and welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage. This time we are in hilly Switzerland, although there are a few flatter parts that allow for field sprints. Just ask Robbie McEwen. But today, with four ranked mountains over the 190 kilometres between Domat-Ems and Caslano, a bunch sprint is less likely. The final cat 2 climb is less than 20 kilometres from the finish and those final kilometres are predominantly downhill, making a possible catch harder.

16:34 CEST    129km/61km to go
The current race situation is that a group of seven is ahead of the peloton by around three minutes. The group consists of Mathieu Perget and José Rujano Guillen (Caisse d'Epargne), Pieter Jacobs (Silence - Lotto), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone), Marco Marzano (Lampre), Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) and Maxim Iglinsky (Astana).

So there are two riders from Caisse d'Epargne and with Perget, one of them is the highest placed rider of the break in GC. He is 36th, at 3'34.

16:39 CEST   
The first intermediate sprint is coming up pretty soon. Having the break up front is good news for René Weissinger (Team Volksbank), as he will be able to hang on to his four-point lead. None of his closest rivals (Loosli, Elmiger and Jurco) are in the break.

16:42 CEST   
This sprint and the next, at kilometre 150, are separated by the cat 3 Monte Ceneri, with the KOM Le Gruyère. That's not a cheese in this case, but the mountain points sponsor for the first rider atop the hill.

McEwen found his winning legs again in Switzerland
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

16:44 CEST   
Robbie McEwen caused a bit of a stir, when he wouldn't interrupt his cell phone call for the winner's ceremony in stage three, but he has since said he "loves Switzerland." He was in the brink of getting thrown out, but has used his second chance for a second stage win.

16:47 CEST   
In the overall, Igor Anton Hernandez (Euskaltel - Euskadi) is still leading Kim Kirchen (Team High Road) by six seconds. Not a big lead and with Kirchen's aggressive racing, he may well take over the leader's jersey today.

Igor Anton leads the race right now, but just by six seconds
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

16:50 CEST    140km/50km to go
The lead has dropped to a good two minutes. We are past the first sprint and the peloton just had some dangerous sections with some bollards to master. Now, they are heading towards Cadenazzo.

16:58 CEST    145km/45km to go
The riders are now in the climb up to the Monte Ceneri. The lead is increasing again, as the break powers up the hill.

16:59 CEST   
Perget and Rujano are dropping out of the lead group. That's it for Perget's dream to move in the GC. Chavanel tried to drop his breakaway partners, but he has been caught again.

17:01 CEST   
Chavanel is now testing to see if it's easier to 'attack' the other way - he gets dropped and rides together with Rujano, while Perget is further back.

17:03 CEST   
The lead is almost back up to three minutes again, as the peloton is content to keep it steady.

17:05 CEST   
Jacobs is the next to having a bit trouble on the climb. The road is very wide and fairly straight. Some riders don't like that kind of climbing.

17:07 CEST   
Nobody can complain about the weather. It is a bit overcast, but otherwise pleasant.

17:08 CEST    151km/39km to go
Jakobs was the one who won the first sprint of the day, but it looks like this is the most he is going to get for the stage

17:12 CEST    153km/37km to go
The front group has set up after hill, allowing everybody to get back. In fact, there are a few more riders in that group, like breakaway champion Jens Voigt (Team CSC), but also Johann Tschopp (Bouygues Telecom) and Pietro Caucchioli (Crédit Agricole)

17:13 CEST   
A message from a different race: Matti Breschel of Team CSC has won the sprint on the Cauberg to take the second stage of the Ster Elektrotoer in the Netherlands. Tony Martin of High Road keeps the leader's jersey.

17:14 CEST   
35km before the finish, Euskaltel, High Road and Gerolsteiner are the teams doing most of the work. The lead is currently still around three minutes.

17:16 CEST   
Iglinsky has had enough of the soft pedaling in the break and gives it a go. Visconti is leading the chase, but swings over as he realises he doesn't want to spend all his energy.

17:18 CEST    158km/32km to go
Iglinsky is some 50m ahead, but it doesn't look too determined. However, the riders behind look even less determined. They ride along a fairly straight road, next to the Swiss Autobahn, occasionally crossing it via bridges.

The lead has dropped to 2'14.

17:20 CEST    160km/30km to go
Two things have contributed to the drop in the gap. First, High Road has sent more riders to the front of the peloton. They have two goals in mind. Protect Kirchen's lead in the overall (or even get him to take the lead) and try for a stage win.

17:21 CEST   
The break is really daydreaming. The attack by Iglinsky did not look very strong, but now he has a lead of more than half a minute!

17:24 CEST    163km/27km to go
The peloton is now rapidly closing in, too, as they ride through Cadempino. There are quite a few people out on the side of the road, despite the peloton flying by at high speeds and only allowing na brief glimpse. The Tour de Suisse is experimenting with late stages. Rather than around 17:00, they finish at 18:30. It' bad news for the racers, but it allows those stuck at work to see them after hours.

The sun has come out!

17:25 CEST   
Well, the break has definitely given up and is now swallowed by the field. Iglinsky's lead is now over a minute!

17:28 CEST   
Astana is racing very aggressively and very successful this year. They started really to rack up the wins when it was announced they wouldn't be invited to the Tour.

Iglinsky is now approaching the beginning of the final climb of the day.

17:29 CEST   
The peloton is now led by CSC - Aussie O'Grady is on the front.

17:31 CEST   
Iglinsky is on the climb, going very close to the wall on his left. But the lead has dropped to 30 secs and it is seven km to the top. The max is 15%, the top is at 810m, after climbing 500m vertically.

17:32 CEST   
Rabo takes over and Devolder is in second wheel. He is only 22 secs back in the overall.

17:33 CEST    168km/22km to go
A few switchback are coming up, but the field can already see the Astana rider. They will catch him soon.

Burghardt attacks! And is shadowed by another Astana rider.

17:34 CEST   
They catch Iglinsky, and ANOTHER Astana rider comes to the front, together with Devolder. The gaps are small.

17:36 CEST   
Devolder keeps going and drops the others, except for one Astana. Anton is close to the front, as the peloton hits the maximum gradient, on some sharp switchbacks.

The Astana rider is Ivanov. Their lead is maybe 100m

17:37 CEST    169km/21km to go
They will hope to use the switchbacks to get out of sight, always a psychological advantage. There are a few trees and some houses that, combined with the curvy road, can block the view just enough.

17:39 CEST    170km/20km to go
Devolder is doing all the pulling. Ivanov just sits on. Devolder is now doubt thinking about yellow. We don't know yet what Ivanov is thinking, but without pulling, he won't get a stage victory or inch closer in the overall. He is 1'03 back.

17:39 CEST    171km/19km to go
Frank Schleck (Team CSC) moves out of the peloton!

17:41 CEST   
Devolder has given up, while Ivanov keeps going. Now he has to do the pulling himself. Devolder and Schleck get caught, while Spiderman runs along side. He obviously has supernatural powers via his mom - the sign he holds reads "Ciao mom"

17:42 CEST   
Schleck again and in no time he moves up to Ivanov. Good for the Astana rider, he can stay behind a wheel again.

17:43 CEST    172km/18km to go
Well, unless the wheel is moving too fast! Schleck is now by himself, with the small peloton of maybe 30 riders some 15 secs back. This climb takes everything out of the riders. Anton is still close to the front of the bunch.

17:44 CEST   
Schleck is slightly increasing his lead as Ivanov gets caught. The gap is now 21 secs. Lots of people have come out here on the climb as well.

17:45 CEST   
Schleck is now in the virtual yellow jersey - he trails by 16 secs!

17:46 CEST   
The bunch passes Cademario, a nice town, but the roads a bit narrow at times. The lead group is now down to a dozen riders.

17:47 CEST    173km/17km to go
The lead keeps increasing and is now 38 secs! This could be the move of the day, the stage win and the yellow jersey!

Schleck is already passing the summit.

17:48 CEST   
Markus Fothen has attacked out of the main field. He is only 14 secs behind over the summit. The first group follows at 35 secs, while after that a lot of smaller groups trickle over the summit.

17:49 CEST   
Schleck is on the initial descent, but there is a little rise coming up soon. The real descent doesn't start until a couple of kilometres from here.

Schleck takes the descent at full speed, leaning into those corners and then pedaling hard on the straight roads.

17:50 CEST    176km/14km to go
But Fothen is quicker downhill and catches up with Schleck! That will increase their chance to stay away.

17:51 CEST   
The descent is not difficult, but there are a few wet patches from recent rains. It's always dangerous when you have a mix of dry and wet roads.

The lead duo hit the little rise now. Fothen leads Schleck.

17:52 CEST   
Schleck has his jersey unzipped. He really likes to ride that way. He takes over the lead now. The two are ahead by 22 secs.

17:54 CEST    178km/12km to go
Michael Albasini (Liquigas) and Sergei Ivanov (Astana) are trying to get away from the bunch. They accelerate hard through the switchbacks, but the peloton is slowly coming back to them. Anton and Devolder are still in there.

17:55 CEST   
Fothen crosses the top ahead of Schleck. Both had their jersey unzipped and now zip it up for the descent.

17:56 CEST   
The group follows 23 secs later, four seconds behind a duo.

A Caisse rider, Moreno, has gone off the front there, and again it is Ivanov who shadows him. He apparently got some clear instructions what to do today.

17:57 CEST    180km/10km to go
Fothen and Schleck now only have to survive the downhill, but a lead of now 16 seconds does not look promising on a group with a lot of the favourites in it.

Current race situation

  • Frank Schleck (Team CSC) and Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner)
  • Peloton at 0.16

18:01 CEST    182km/8km to go
Fothen and Schleck are descending well and they have increased their lead again to 24 secs. Fothen powers so hard that Schleck has to get out of the saddle to catch the German's wheel.

Moreno and Ivanov are back in the group, which descends in one long line.

18:01 CEST   
The duo has reached Novaggio, going full speed past the spectators.

18:02 CEST    184km/6km to go
The peloton passes a cemetery. Surely, some riders' legs feel pretty dead right now.

18:03 CEST   
The lead is still 26 seconds and Schleck could see himself in yellow tonight. There goes a bottle - always a welcome souvenir for the crowd.

18:04 CEST    185km/5km to go
Albasini still leads the front, with Anton sitting behind. There don't seem to be other Euskaltel riders to help out.

18:05 CEST    186km/4km to go
OH NO. Schleck misses a turn and crashes into a ravine! We have info on his condition, he simply disappeared.

18:05 CEST   
The break comes around the same bend. His bike is still on the ground, but they manage to avoid it.

18:06 CEST   
Phew, Schleck is on the side of the road, standing.

Fothen has three more km to go and still 27 secs.

18:06 CEST    188km/2km to go
He is 1'38 back in the GC, so won't take yellow. But a stage win is great, too!

18:07 CEST   
Fothen has ended the downhill. He can see the flamme rouge already.

18:08 CEST   
The gap is now 45 secs as Fothen passes the one-km to go sign. He powers over a speed bump - there is no slowing down the Gerolsteiner now, not even with a speed bump.

18:08 CEST   
The peloton reaches the flamme rouge. Ivanov again, who is slightly ahead.

18:09 CEST   
Fothen takes a few bends and when he makes a right he passes into a narrow area between some houses. It's very dark there, with the sun overshadowed, so to speak.

18:10 CEST   
Fothen makes it! A pedals to the finish by himself!

18:10 CEST   
Just 40 secs later, Ivanov hangs on to his small lead, ahead of the group of favourites.

18:11 CEST   
The main peloton comes in almost two minutes later.

18:13 CEST   
And Schleck comes in now as well, with a forced smile on his face. He goes from potential yellow jersey to being out of contention. But at least he is OK, this crash looked really bad. There was no way to see how far down he was going.

18:20 CEST   
Markus Fothen said "Schleck and I went out of the peloton before the top. We worked well together, but then he misjudged a corner and hit the guard rail full speed."

Fothen was relieved when he heard that Schleck was OK.

18:23 CEST   
That was a shocker ending, but we are glad that Schleck is OK.

Anton is still the overall leader, with Freire leading the points.

Thanks for joining us today and see you tomorrow, where the riders will hit an HC climb right from the start. Then it will be flat for a bit, until a cat 1 mountain top finish will end the day. See you then.

1 Markus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner
2 Sergei Ivanov (Rus) Astana              0.45
3 Markus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner
4 Michael Albasini (Swi) Liquigas
5 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Crédit Agricole
6 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner
7 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
8 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
9 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step
10 Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram

General classification after stage 5

1 Igor Antón (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
2 Kim Kirchen (Lux) High Road           0.06
3 Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Gerolsteiner
4 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas
5 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step
6 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) High Road
7 Markus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner
8 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
9 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Astana
10 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana

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