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Tour de Suisse - Stage 3 Live
By Staff
Date: 6/16/2008
Tour de Suisse - Stage 3 Live

Tour de Suisse - Stage 2 Live
The flat and easy stage in the Tour of Switzerland....

Stage 3 Flums - Gossau  155km
Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of stage three of the Switzerland tour. We join the stage in progress with three riders on a breakaway under the rain: Jeffry Louder (USA - BMC), Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (Fra - Cofidis) and René Weissinger (Ger - Volksbank) lead the peloton - so far unable/unwilling to put in any kind of reaction - by 07'29" after 38 kilometres. None of the escapees, whose move began in the very early miles just to open up a solid gap of 05'33" after 25 kilometres, seems to represent a real threat to Igor Anton's leadership of the race anyway: the best-placed member of the trio, René Weissinger, was 13 minutes 06 seconds down on GC at the startline earlier today.

That's why Euskaltel haven't made any efforts to chase them down yet. But the fact they have got a fast rider like Koldo Fernandez in their roster, and today's parcours provides the guy with a chance to make a new addition to his career tally, should make the Orange Warriors more motivated in the (upcoming) chase. The other sprinter's teams are obviously expected to give the Basque Armada a helping hand once the pursuit starts for real.

We remind you that Igor Anton enjoys a tiny advantage of six seconds over Kim Kirchen, but with two other serious overall contender like Damiano Cunego and Franck Schleck only 12 and 16 secs back respectively.

The advantage of Jeff Louder, Hervé Duclos-Lassalle and René Weissinger keeps coming down slightly as the trio hit a small uphill portion of the route. The chase began at last, or so it seems: Louder, Weissinger and the son of former Paris-Roubaix legend Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle have lost two minutes to the peloton already.

1701 CEST - Louder, Duclos-Lassalle and Weissinger keep taking turns on the front as the rain keeps falling with about 78 kilometres left. Their advantage fell to about five minutes after they took it to almost 8 mins.

Team High Road Will Ride in the 2008 Tour de France as “Team Columbia” Under New Sponsorship Agreement Supporting Columbia Sportswear Company’s Outdoor Brand Leadership The three-year sponsorship agreement runs through 2010 and includes both the men’s and women’s professional cycling teams, which are top ranked worldwide and have won over 70 races combined in 2008 – the most wins of any competing team. In addition, at least 15 riders from Team Columbia are expected to represent their countries in the upcoming Olympics.

“This is a partnership with great potential,” says High Road Owner Bob Stapleton. “Columbia is a market leader with innovative products, progressive management, and ambitious marketing objectives. We welcome Columbia Sportswear as a key partner for the next several years,” Stapleton added.

Gossau hosts the finish of a Tour de Suisse road stage for the first time, even if this Swiss municipality made the news also in the 2003 edition of the race, courtesy of an Individual TT won by Aussie sensation Brad McGee.

The trio has made it to the feed zone. Weissinger turned professional rider in the year 2002, but he has got wins mainly in "minor" races only. Jeff Louder, of Salt Lake City, Utah turned pro in 2000 with Tönissteiner - Colnago in Belgium and switched to the Navigators in 2002 through 2005 before riding with the USA's number one team Health Net and then switching to BMC. He's won 17 races during his career,  most recently the 3rd stage of Redlands this year, so he's no stranger to stepping to the podium. Jeff's father is also a strong competitor in the Masters circuit. This time though it was the son passing on his passion to the father who took up the sport.

No team took over the chase for real in the pack, but nonetheless the advantage of the three brave guys on the front fell under four minutes about 60k from the finish. Jeffry Louder (Junior) drives the lead trio at the moment, while the peloton is taking on a small climb in the green Swiss countryside. And a couple local girls wave to the bunch from under their umbrellas. Yes, bad weather isn't giving the TdS crew a break either!

Herve Duclos Lassalle comes first across the top of the third category Girenbad, with Louder in third wheel and the German in between. Their advantage at the latest check was 03'45".

1728 CEST - KOM leader David Loosli takes one point as he leads the Gruppo to the summit of the second uphill thing of the day, 03 minutes and 33 seconds behind the frontrunners.

The going will get vertical only one more time today, albeit not far from the line. The man from Salt Lake City (Jeff Louder), the man from Pau in France (Duclos-Lassalle) and the man from Germany's Boeblingen (Rene Weissinger) got back to time-gaining ways: the leaders have 03'42" on the pack with 48k to go.

In other racing news in the USA: yesterday's Skyskraper Harlem classic was won by 22 year old Erik Barlevav of TIME pro cycling nipping Rock Racing's Rahsaan Bahati. Jake Keough (CRCA/Sakonnet Technology) finished third. Barlevav's hands slipped off the bars and crashed after the finish but was no worse for the accident luckily.

Rory Sutherland of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team P/by Maxxis capped a near-perfect Nature Valley Grand Prix Sunday with a 2nd place in the final stage, and sealing the overall victory, his third overall stage race win in six weeks.

1748 CEST - The gap fell under three minutes as the peloton went under the 40k to go banner, but Louder, Duclos-Lassalle and their German mate are not giving up the fight. As much as the rain doesn't give up in its bid to annoy the race.

1758 CEST - Several different jerseys keep mixing on the front of the pack as their time deficit to BMC's Louder, Cofidis' Duclos-Lassalle and Volksbank's Weissinger went under the two-minute mrk: 01'53" with 30 kilometres to go.  Louder takes a bottle from his team car and quickly moves ahead of the German while France's Herve of Cofidis keeps riding tempo.

1805 CEST - René Weissinger won the hot spot sprint 28 km from the finish, with Duclos Lassalle in second wheel, Louder third and the oncoming bunch about 100 seconds back.

It's not unusual to see early escapees lose their advantage as the finish gets closer (the gap is 01'04" with 21 kms left) but it's unusual to see several teams help the chase with just one rider or two, without the frequent "one-squad" chasing machines. But that's what's happening today: Euskaltel and Rabobank might be outnumbering all other teams in the top 20 spots of the pack, but we can often see a man from Lotto, Lampre or some other squad at the front setting the pace.

1820 CEST - Perhaps things will change in the next few miles though. And the only climb left will have an impact on today's not exactly hectic race dynamics. But you gotta give the three fugitives proper credit. Louder, Weissinger and Duclos-Lassalle have been away basically all stage long, and they'll try and resist until the peloton brings them back. Their advantage is under the minute with the line 17 kilometres away.

Fabian Cancellara has showed up at the front. But he looks like he's helping CSC leader Franck Schleck rather then aiming for personal glory today.

1825 CEST - 13 kilometres left. Louder and his two breakaway companions hold on to a small margin of a half a minute.  Team High Road haven't wasted too many energies in the chase, but their fastman Kim Kirchen has the chance to steal the jersey from Igor Anton's shoulders in case of a winning sprint, courtesy of the time bonuses at stake.

1828 CEST - The breakaway is about to come to an end at the foot of the last climb. The breakaway is over. Jeff Louder (USA - BMC), Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (Fra - Cofidis) and René Weissinger (Ger - Volksbank) shake hands as they get reeled in after staying clear for about 140 kilometres. Kudos to all of them.

Deja Vu all over again, like yesterday's race... The peloton is together again as they go over the last "climb" with 9 kilometres left. This is not exactly the Mortirolo however, the bunch keeps a high pace.  Zabel, Visconti, Steegmans are seen in the top 20 spots. Quick Step sets the pace, Gert Steegmans is their appointed sprinter, hoping to give Freire, McEwen, Zabel some hard time in the saddle today.

1833 CEST -  Loosli takes three more points at the summit of this "mountain giant", and now the final descent to the line starts.  And a Caisse d'Epargne rider gives it a go at riding away from the pack, along with a colleague of his. But neither of them can go far. The group is "compatto" once more.

Surprise Surprise: David Loosli puts in a solo attack in the descent with 5k remaining. Other teams will have to work to chase him down, and Lampre and Napolitano can save their legs for the sprint.  Loosli's move was covered. And the next attempt, from QS's De Jongh, didn't have any better outcome.

Oscar Freire finally shows up on the front as the line is just 2 km. away. One Liqui-guy leads the pack but the Lottos outnumber all other teams at the front.  Loosli paces Napolitano. The Lottos move to the front. Hoste and another teammate lead McEwen out.

Robbie leads sprint at 50 meters Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

500 meters to go... Robbie starts the sprint.  Freire reacts, it's a two-man affair. It's a close battle, but McEwen wins.

Robbieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee McEweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen

McEwen, Freire and Ciolek Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Rockin' Robbie is back!!!

1843 CEST - The Aussie enjoyed a great leadout and launched his sprint about 200 metres from the line. Freire tried to come around him in the last metres but McEwen was good at keeping the Spaniard at bay.

3. Ciolek 4. Foerster 5. Napolitano 6. Usov 7. JJ Rojas 8. Zabel 9. Van Avermaet 10. Dietziker.

No news on the GC side of the matter: Igor Anton maintains the jersey and his six-second advantage on Kim Kirchen, with Damiano Cunego one more day in spot number three.

Robbie McEwem snatched his sixth victory on Tour de Suisse roads and, unusually enough, his team gave him an excellent leadout in the final straight.  Robbie can finally raise his arms and salute the crowd from the podium. His Giro d'Italia no show is a matter of the past. He found back his best sprinting legs.

Back to his winning ways - Robbie Mc Ewen Celebrates
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Stage 3  Top Ten Results
Flums - Gossau  155km

1. Robbie Mcewen SIL 3h50'05''
2. Oscar Freire RAB
3. Gerald Ciolek THR 

4. Robert Förster GST 
5. Danilo Napolitano LAM 
6. Alexandre Usov ALM 
7. Jose Rojas Gil GCE 
8. Erik Zabel MRM 
9. Greg Van Avermaet SIL 
10. Andreas Dietziker VBG 

General Classification After Stage 3 (top ten)
1 Igor Anton ESP EUS 8h42'29''
2 Kim Kirchen LUX THR  0'06''
3 Damiano Cunego ITA LAM  0'12''

4 Frank Schleck LUX CSC  0'16''
5 Oliver Zaugg SUI GST  0'18''
6 Roman Kreuziger CZE LIQ  0'21''
7 Stijn Devolder BEL QST  0'22''
8 Thomas Lövkvist SWE THR  0'25''
9 Andy Schleck LUX CSC  0'40''
10 Andreas Klöden GER AST  0'40''

Thanks for joining us today for the live coverage of the Tour de Suisse stage 3.

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