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93rd Züri Metzgete - Championship of Zurich - ProT

Switzerland, October 1, 2006

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Sammy Sanchez caps off a big year

By Jeff Jones

Sanchez gives thanks,
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

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."

O'Grady, Sanchez and Rebellin
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

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

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

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.

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

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.

Sanchez attacked
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

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                   

ProTour standings

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