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72nd Tour de Suisse - ProT

Switzerland, June 14-22, 2008

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Stage 6 - June 19: Ambri - Verbier, 188km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Gregor Brown

Live coverage starts: 16:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 18:40 CEST

16:27 CEST    104km/84km to go
Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of Tour de Suisse stage six. Only two categorised mountains mark Thursday's stage six, but the 2479-metre Col du Nufenen and the finishing climb of Verbier will cook the riders' legs (and maybe our transmission). Expect Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi), current GC leader, to be put to the test at the tail-end of today's run.

16:34 CEST   
We currently have a group of 11 men who have battle clear after the first whammy of the day, the 2479-metre Col du Nufenen. The move had 10 minutes near 90 kilometres into the stage, about 30 minutes ago. There are some familiar faces in this move – Voigt, Tschopp and Iglinsky – the full group consists of:
José Rujano (Caisse d'Epargne)
Maarten Tjallingii (Silence-Lotto)
Steve Zampieri (Cofidis)
David Loosli (Lampre)
Philip Deignan (AG2R La Mondiale)
Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step)
Maxim Iglinsky (Astana)
Jens Voigt (Team CSC)
Mathias Frank (Gerolsteiner)
Johann Tschopp (Bouygues Telecom)
Andreas Dietziker (Team Volksbank)

That 2479-metre Col du Nufenen did a number on our car, we had to pull over and check the anti-freeze in the radiator. There was snow on the pass and the cyclingnews crew always likes to keep the engine running clean. When I get a chance, about once a year, I have some Quaker State 10W-40 sent over to Europe – it keeps all my cars running in tip-top top shape.

103km/85km to go
With 85 kilometres of racing left the riders hit the feed zone. They will need to top up on this day, warm and a strong kick at the end.

16:44 CEST    116km/72km to go
The highest ranked rider in the 11-man move is Andreas Dietziker (Team Volksbank), 38th overall at 9'15". At one point he was the virtual leader of the race, but now the peloton has brought the escape back down to a reasonable time gap. The gap is now at 7'30" with 72 kilometres left to race.

16:51 CEST   
We can report that over in France Simon Gerrans (Crédit Agricole) has won the opening stage of the Route du Sud. Bravo Mr. Gerrans.

16:52 CEST   
Happy Birthday to Francesco Moser, who is 57 years old today. 'The sheriff' won the Giro d'Italia in 1984, three-time winner of Paris-Roubaix in addition to being the 1977 World Champion.

16:57 CEST   
Venezuela's José Rujano (Caisse d'Epargne) looks comfortable in the group. The 26 year-old is winless for 2008 – his last win was June 26 with the national time trial championships – but looked promising in the 2008 Giro d'Italia with a fourth place on the Alpe Di Pampeago stage.

Dutchman Thomas Dekker (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

17:01 CEST    128km/60km to go
We have readers asking about Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) – sixth in the Ličge-Bastogne-Ličge. The Dutchman is biding his time in the peloton and will try his best on the Verbier, but likely work to support Laurens Ten Dam.

With 60 kilometres remaining the group is at 5'48" back.

17:08 CEST   
To remind you, Spaniard Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) leads the race and wears the yellow top, compatriot Oscar Freire (Rabobank) is in the points lead, Swiss David Loosli (Lampre) is in the pink mountains top and René Weissinger (Team Volksbank) is in the white sprints top.

17:10 CEST   
It was Kazakh Maxim Iglinsky (Astana) who led the escapees over the early, 2479-metre Col du Nufenen. Bravo Max! He did that a lot faster than our car!!

17:11 CEST    143km/45km to go
Johann Tschopp (Bouygues Telecom) is feeling punchy and guns it to stretch out the 11-man group. Italian Champ Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) helps pull it back together.

The gap is at 3'55"

17:12 CEST   
Though we left Ambri under sunny skies, it is now grey. Really, there was no need to have the car windows tinted before the start of this race!

17:13 CEST   
High Road (errr Team Columbia) is leading the gruppo. There too is CSC (errr Team CSC-Saxo).

17:17 CEST    147km/41km to go
USA's Team BMC is looking great here amongst the European boys. Well, the team – kitted in black and white – does have a few Euros in its ranks as well.

The gruppo is enjoying the calm before the Verbier-storm; keeping the gap right at 4'30" and knowing the roads will tilt upwards shortly.

The gap is officially at 4'19".

17:18 CEST   
The sun is out again! Maybe it was not such a bad idea to have the Cyclingnews rig tinted.

17:22 CEST    150km/38km to go
Italy's Damiano Cunego (Lampre) is looking as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce. Sure the kid from Verona did not have a great day yesterday, finishing 27th at 1'54" back, but he is complete quality from toe-straps to crash-lid. You can expect Signor Amstel Gold to be on target for Le Tour de France, starting July 5.

Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is ready to fight up the Verbier
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

17:24 CEST   
Igor Antón's Euskaltel-Euskadi team is leading the gruppo in its echelon formation. It appears the wind is coming from the right.

17:27 CEST   
Andreas Dietziker (Team Volksbank), winner of the 2007 Giro del Mendrisiotto, whizzes by our car parked at the sprint point to take the in-line competition.

17:32 CEST    155km/33km to go
The Basque boys are earning their pay checks; they are humping along at the front of the gruppo in support of their captain and race leader, Igor Antón.

The front 11 are working in a counter-clockwise rotation. If they get to the base of the Verbier with a good gap one of the boys could take the stage.

17:38 CEST    158km/30km to go
With that sprint in Saxon, the Verbier is approaching. We have about 15 kilometres left to the Sembrancher sprint, where there will be another 15 kilometres and 800 metres to climb – reaching 1523 metres.

17:42 CEST    161km/27km to go
Swiss Johann Tschopp (Bouygues Telecom) got his start in 2004 with Switzerland-based Team Phonak. The 25 year-old, with Bouygues since 2007, is win-less to date, but has an 18th overall in the Vuelta Ciclista al País Vasco.

The gap is growing, now at 4'44"

17:50 CEST    165km/23km to go
What will German Jens Voigt (Team CSC) do? He can't win this stage, so, how will he manage the final 23 kilometres ahead of him. That being said, he did have a heck of a stage that day in 2006, when he gave the Giro d'Italia stage to San Pellegrino to escape companion Juan Manuel Garate.

18:00 CEST   
None other than Swiss-powerhouse, Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC), is leading the gruppo. He is chomping at the escape's gap, working for Brothers Schleck. Fränk will be out for the kill and that could be exactly why big Jens Voigt is in the escape. Yes, the talkative German veteran will pop off the pace – right as José Rujano (Caisse d'Epargne) throws a punch – and hold up to pace one of the Luxembourg boys.

A special "Moien" to all of our Luxembourg readers!

Italian National champion Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) climbing.
Photo ©: Isabelle Duchesne
(Click for larger image)

18:00 CEST    170km/18km to go
And right as we type that... Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) throws down the attack hammer!

The peloton is back at 2'56"

18:02 CEST    173km/15km to go
Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) is flying the tricolore jersey well. But... to make it solo to the end will be hard. He is joined by Philip Deignan (AG2R La Mondiale) and they have about 13" advantage.

18:06 CEST    176km/12km to go
Two-time Time Trial World Champion Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) keeps the pace high with about two team-mates in tow. We also see Stijn Devolder (Quick Step), Lance Armstrong's selection for future Tour de France greatness, tucked behind.

18:08 CEST   
Up north, the Ster Elektrotoer popped over into Belgium today. Enrico Gasparotto of Barloworld took the win, ahead of Vasil Kiryienka (Tinkoff) and Matthé Pronk (Cycle Collstrop). High Road's Tony Martin has lost the overall lead, but we don't know yet who the new leader is.

18:09 CEST    177km/11km to go
The peloton is strung out under the CSC power. USA's Bobby Julich (Team CSC) is adding to the pace now.

Maarten Tjallingii (Silence-Lotto) and Mathias Frank (Gerolsteiner) join Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) and Philip Deignan (AG2R La Mondiale) up front.

18:12 CEST    179km/9km to go
We pull the car over here in Villette-Le Châble. The riders rush by... This town is the spot where the team buses are parked and a lot of the riders, right after crossing the line, will make a u-turn to ride the 10 kilometres back down to this point.

18:14 CEST   
Team High Road is turning the screws of the peloton now. They are about two minutes behind the front runners. One of these boys could get the stage win if he plays his cards right. Currently, Philip Deignan (AG2R La Mondiale) is looking the strongest.

18:18 CEST   
Philip Deignan (AG2R La Mondiale), 24, was recently named one of the two riders to represent Ireland at the Olympics. He will be joined by Roche.

18:20 CEST    182km/6km to go
Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step), who started the move, looks in difficulty. Mathias Frank (Gerolsteiner) and Philip Deignan (AG2R La Mondiale) are leading the race now with Maarten Tjallingii (Silence-Lotto) also out the back.

18:23 CEST    182km/6km to go
Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is looking lonely. All of his team-mates have disappeared and he is alone in a group of about 30 riders, including Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) and other favourites.

18:24 CEST   
Jens Voigt (Team CSC) and Johann Tschopp (Bouygues Telecom) have joined forces to make the pace. While, a little further up, Maarten Tjallingii (Silence-Lotto) is still going at the heels of the front two leaders.

18:25 CEST   
Fränk Schleck (Team CSC) hits out of the gruppo.

18:26 CEST    183km/5km to go
The Luxemburger, winner of Alp d'Huez two years ago, picks up Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step).

18:26 CEST   
Belgian Champion Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) is next to go. He passed Giovanni Visconti (Quick Step) and catches Fränk Schleck (Team CSC)!

18:27 CEST   
Mathias Frank (Gerolsteiner) is putting a gap on Philip Deignan (AG2R La Mondiale).

18:28 CEST    184km/4km to go
Fränk Schleck's brother, Andy, is back in the pack causing a stir. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) is right on Andy's wheel.

18:30 CEST    185km/3km to go
Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) keeps going, moving away from Fränk Schleck (Team CSC). Andy Schleck (Team CSC) joins with Fränk Schleck (Team CSC) while a group, with race leader Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi), is trying to keep pace.

18:31 CEST   
Roman Kreuziger is there with the Schleck brothers for Team Liquigas.

18:32 CEST   
Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) is being paced back by the CSC brothers with 1000 metres to the top of Verbier. He keeps about 10" over the chase.

18:34 CEST   
The winner of the Ronde van Vlaanderen is looking well on the Verbier. He holds 15" with two kilometres remaining. All of Belgium will be going nuts!

18:36 CEST    186km/2km to go
He powers up these smooth Swiss roads, bronze-coloured legs pumping. He passes the GPM of Verbier, leaving about two kilometres left.

Further back is Fränk and Andy Schleck (Team CSC), Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas)... Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is trailing. The Spaniard looks blown.

18:37 CEST    187km/1km to go
Kim Kirchen (High Road) leads a group that picks up Stijn Devolder (Quick Step). Nice try by the Belgian Champ, but he is back in the fold. We have a group of four leading, including Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) and Andreas Klöden (Astana).

18:37 CEST   
We are coming to the line.

18:38 CEST   
Kim Kirchen (High Road) goes.

18:38 CEST   
The Flčche Wallonne winner takes the stage over Andreas Klöden (Astana) and Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas). Then Serguei Ivanov (Astana) and Stijn Devolder (Quick Step).

18:39 CEST   
Igor Antón has lost nearly 25" here at the line.

18:46 CEST   
Moien! Thanks to his stage win and the distancing of Spain's Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Luxemburger Kim Kirchen (High Road) takes over the race leader's yellow top with some 20 seconds over Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas).

18:47 CEST   
Igor Antón (Euskaltel-Euskadi) is now in third overall and looks to have lost the race, but that time trial on Saturday will tell us a lot. Thanks for joining us with the live coverage today and please return tomorrow.

Provisional Results

1 Kim Kirchen (Lux) High Road
2 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana
3 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas
4 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Astana
5 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step
6 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
7 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) High Road
8 Igor Antón (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
9 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre
10 Markus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner 
General classification after stage 6
1 Kim Kirchen (Lux) High Road
2 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas                   0.27
3 Igor Antón (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
4 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step

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