Welcome to our live coverage of stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse 2008, from
Gossau - Domat Ems over 170.7 kilometres. On paper, it's an easy trip on the
eastern side of the nation, with a brief move into the territory of the tiny
Principality of Liechtenstein, and two category climbs in the last sixty
kilometres: the Schallenberg and the Lutzisteig, the latter coming about 30 km
from the finish.
We join the stage in progress with three riders on a breakaway, just like
yesterday. And just like 24 hours ago, one of them races with the BMC team
outfit. If Jeff Louder made the news in our previous ticker, now it's the turn
of Jonathan Garcia, on the move with Slovakia's three-time national ITT
champion Matej Jurco (Team Milram) as well as the French Jerome Pineau (Bouygues
Telecom) since the first couple kilometres. The multinational trio opened up a
maximum advantage of about ten minutes some 40 km. into the stage.
The gap basically stayed the same over the following half a dozen miles,
with Garcia, Jurco and the often combative Pineau riding at 42 kph. But it
started dropping once the lead trio stopped working perfectly together after
about 60 kilometres, so that the field - with yellow jersey holder Igor Anton
of Euskaltel inside - was trailing the frontunners by 08'08" at the km. 65
check, while racing alongside Lake Constance under grey skies (but thankfully
rain hasn't made any appearance yet).
Both the three-strong breakaway group and the main peloton made it to the
feed zone around the halfway point of the stage. Jonathan Garcia (USA - BMC
Racing Team), Matej Jurco (Svk - Team Milram) and Jerome Pineau (Fra -
Bouygues Telecom) enjoyed a maximum lead of 10 minutes and as many seconds
before having their advantage cut down to eight mins, but managed to take the
gap back to nine minutes at km. 84.
76 kilometres to go for the trio on the front, but the chase has apparently
started at least. Today's finish town Domat-Ems is a small municipality
of under 7,000 near Imboden in the Swiss canton of Graubünden.
1710 CEST - Garcia, Jurco and Pineau
hit the first ascent of the day, the Schellenberg. Their gap dropped a lot in
the last few kilometres: the trio holds on to a lead of 05 minutes, 26 second
with 58 kms to go. The strung out peloton
is riding fast. And Anton regained also the "virtual race leadership on the
road" after Pineau held it for some time.
The gap falls under five minuteds as also the pack keeps climbing the third
category ascent. To nobody's surprise, Oscar Freire's Orange Guard
drives the field on the Schellenberg; but two Swiss attack in the last portion
of the climb: KOM leader David Loosli of Lampre and his closest challenger (in
that classification) Steve Zampieri (Cofidis).
1719 CEST - Zampieri gave it everything
in order to drop Loosli, but his efforts didn't get proper reward: the
Lampreman beat the Cofidis rider in the battle over the only point still up
for grabs atop the cat. three climb. The "patriotic" cameras of the Swiss tv
spent quite a lot of time on the two guys, neglecting a bit the leading trio.
Whose advantage came further down to about 04'30"
with slightly over 50k to go. Once their
KOM mission was accomplished, Loosli and Zampieri were quickly hauled back
into the field.
1724 CEST - Jerseys of McEwen's Lotto,
Freire's Rabobank and Kim Kirchen's Team High Road mix up on the front of the
chase group. The gold jersey wearer's team (aka Euskaltel) must not be that
upset about other teams doing the job, we tend to think ... Three yellow
jerseys of Saunier comfortably sit off the back of the peloton instead.
Race Across America
Update: The Byggkjøp presented by BMC Cycling won the eight-person
division in a time of five days, nine hours and 56 minutes this morning. That
time bettered the previous record for the category (five days, 15 hours, 43
minutes), established last year by Team Type 1. The Norwegian-based team
averaged 23.2 mph, the second-fastest speed ever ridden in the race regardless
of category. Team Type 1’s official finish time was five days, 13 hours and 40
Domat-Ems hosts a TdS stage finish for the second time. It happened first
in the 2002 edition, with the stage coming down to a field sprint, and Ete
Zabel taking line honours from Sven Teutenberg and Dario Pieri. The Italian is
no longer in the pro cycling scene. Pieri just had enough of struggling in the
saddle and resolved to hang up his wheels. Jonathan Garcia still likes to
race, and currently drove the three-man breakaway on a flat part of the route
about 46 kilometres from the line.
1735 CEST - Tour de Suisse (gap)
update: Matej Jurco, Jerome Pineau (06'52" down on GC at the stage start) and
Colorado's Jonathan Garcia had their advantage further reduced to 03 minutes
and 37 seconds as Jurco wins the Hot Spot Sprint with
43k to go. They are on the way to the
second and last climb of the day.
They go under the 40k to go banner, and the gap goes down to three minutes.
Lampre's hard working man Matteo Bono is riding tempo, as a Gerolsteiner rider
is at the back picking up water bottles. The peloton is massed across both
lanes of the road as the first drops of rain fall from the cloudy sky.
Tour of Serbia news (yes, they're
racing also there): Radoslav Rogina of Croatia sprinted to victory from
Italy's Simone Cadamuro. Another Italian contender, Danilo Andrenacci (Hadimec),
winner of the race opener 24 hours earlier, maintains the overall leadership.
1744 CEST - The lead trio is at the
foot of the second and last climb in today's menu. The peloton trails them by
two and a half minutes, with Belgian road champion Stijn Devolder looking good
in the front places. Meanwhile the Sun plays hide and seek with the riders,
the three up front are currently enjoying the sun on their backs. The going
turned vertical again, but Jurco, Garcia and Pineau manage to stay together.
Nobody dropped by the front group as they ride through the forest.
1750 CEST - Some sun rays surprisingly
threaded their way through the clouds to shine on the peloton. A couple
Lottos and as many FDJ boys ride neck to neck as they lead the field, with the
Rabo-boys following their wheels. Jurco drives the breakaway with the US rider
in third wheel and Pineau the French in between. Their advantage hovers around
two minutes and thirty seconds. The finishing line is a good 32 kilometres
Danilo Napolitano, one of the main suspects to go for stage victory
in case of bunch sprint, is having a hard time at the bottom of the peloton.
The bunch isn't making any gains on this ascent.
1754 CEST - 30 km to go, Gap 2:35 Jurco,
Garcia and Pineau made it to the summit of Luzisteig. The French took five KOM
points as he came first to the mountain sprint. The trio continue to work
together looking to be intent in evading the pack behind... but the pace is
going up in the chase.
The peloton went top of the hill too, and are now flying at 65 kph in the
descent. They still have to make up for a time deficit of 02'25" in the last
26 kilometres of the stage. The Waterboys of Gerolsteiner sped up the pace in
25 km to go, 2:21 the gap - Matej Jurco,
Jerome Pineau and Jonathan Garcia keep working well with each other. A few
riders tried to go clear from the peloton in the descent, but their attempt is
quickly coming to an end. Freire's, McEwen's and Napolitano's teammates
have no intention to let them go.
1803 CEST - And no intention to let
those three guys in the lead make it to the finish: the gap drops to 02'17" as
there's still 23 kilometres to be covered. Lampre, Silence/Lotto, Rabobank,
Quickstep and High Road riders on the front lining out the peloton behind with
1810 CEST - 21km to go, The battle in
the front trio heats up as they reach the Landsquart hot spot sprint about 21k
from the finish. Jurco wins the close sprint from Garcia with Pineau in third.
The gap is quickly moving towards the two-minute mark.
17 km to go - gap 1:58, The gap
fell under two minutes as the road kept tilting upwards again and the rain
made its way back onto the peloton at Zizers town, 17 kms from the line.
Garcia, Jurco and Pineau do not give up the fight, and keep getting their
well-earned media coverage. Garcia's teammate, and member of yesterday's
breakaway trio, Jeff Louder is at the bottom of the field today instead.
Silence/Lotto and Lampre continue their labor at the front.
1815 CEST - Rain rain went away, and
the sun was welcomed back by the now fast riding peloton, about one mile
later, 12 riders on the front in single file driving the pace as a group holds
on behind. Lampre, Rabobank, High Road, Gerolsteiner and Lotto are
getting darn serious about the chase, such that the three leaders lost about
20-25 seconds over the last mile of racing.
1820 CEST - The distance between Jurco,
Pineau, Garcia and the line is a little over 13 kilometres. A bit too much for
them to keep hopes of victory, especially with the advantage coming down so
fast now. It's just one minute!! The US rider, the Czech-born Slovak and the
Frenchman, on the attack since km. three, are going to get caught in the next
10 km to go, The group halved the
gap to 45 seconds in the last four kilometres. 9 km to go, 22 seconds the gap.
And it's going from bad to worse for the three leaders: only half a minute
over the field as they step into the last ten kilometres of today's journey
1825 CEST - Matej Jurco comes first
across the line at the last intermediate "sprint" (Chur, 9 km to go). But the
field is really on their heels. Just a dozen seconds in between the trio and
the gruppo. Jurco, Garcia and Pineau have stayed clear over 16o kilometres,
but it's gonna be over in a while.
The three sit up and exchange hand shakes as the High Road Peloton sweep up
the break mates. Ciolek, Freire, McEwen, Napolitano and all other fast wheels
will be stealing the limelight from now on.
1828 CEST - The peloton is together
again with 6 kilometres left. No more attacks are likely to come, the pace is
too high. High Road are up in full force, driving the peloton charge.
3 km to go, Six High Road riders drive
the pass at the front. Zabel, Usov, Foerster, O'Grady, Koldo Fernandez and JJ
Rojas are also amongst those having something to say in the upcoming sprint.
High Road. goes to an even higher pace. Five guys from the future Team
Columbia are taking the speed to new heights.
40 Meters out... Freire, McEwen, Ciolek and Duque...
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
1832 CEST - But the QS leadout machine
working for Steegmans, and for giving McEwen and Freire a hard time, look up
to the task too. But Lotto respond by getting three men on the front:
Hoste and Van Avermaet pace Robbie just like yesterday.
HERE COMES THE SPRINT
Freire guts it on the line, McEwen and Ciolek, Duque of Cofidis pegged.
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
It's a close battle today, it's Ciolek vs. McEwen... and ROBBIE WINS
Robbbbbie Mc Ewennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!
Three riders throw their bikes at the line but Robbie timed it to perfection
to take his second win in as many days.
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
Freire came around Ciolek to steal him the runner-up spot, but couldn't do
much to stop the Aussie from notching up his second stage win in a row.
Finish order: 1. McEwen 2. Freire 3. Ciolek 4. Duque 5. Zberg 6. Korff 7.
Napolitano 8. Usov
The Australian, once more enjoying a good leadout from his teammates and
coming out at the right time, notched up his "seventh wonder" at the Tour de
Suisse, even if he admitted he didn't have an easy time keeping oncoming
Freire at bay in the last 60 metres. But he did, and now can smile while
saluting the crowd from the podium. Robbie is looking lean and fit as he
accepts his kisses from the beautiful Swiss Misses on the podium.
Igor Anton comes next to the podium. The Spaniard stayed far from the
spotlight basically all thru the stage, but maintained the gold jersey and can
now show up alongside the Swiss misses. There will be no major changes to top
of the classification after today's mass arrival.
Desite his two recent losses to Rockin' Robbie, Oscar Freire holds on to
his leadership in the Points classification.
Stage 4 Results (Top Ten)
Gossau - Domat 170.7 km
1. Robbie Mcewen SIL 4:04:10
2. Oscar Freire RAB
3. Gerald Ciolek THR 0'00''
4. Leonardo Duque COF 0'00''
5. Markus Zberg GST 0'00''
6. Andre Korff VBG 0'00''
7. Danilo Napolitano LAM 0'00''
8. Alex Moos BMC 0'00''
9. Alexandre Usov ALM 0'00''
10. Danilo Wyss BMC 0'00''
General Classification After Stage 4
1. Igor Anton EUS ESP 16h36'44
2. Kim Kirchen THR LUX :06''
3. Damiano Cunego LAM ITA :12''
4. Frank Schleck CSC LUX :16''
5. Oliver Zaugg GST SUI :18''
6. Roman Kreuziger LIQ CZE :21''
7. Stijn Devolder QST BEL :22''
8. Thomas Lövkvist THR SWE :25''
9. Andy Schleck CSC LUX :40''
10. Andreas Klöden AST GER :40''
14. Michael Albasini LIQ SUI 1:07
15. Alexandre Moos BMC SUI 01:09
This concludes our live coverage, join us tomorrow for stage 5 as the tour
leaves Domat to Caslano a passage of roughly 190 kilometers of up and down
action as the peloton rides from picturesque valley to valley over 4
categorized climbs in a long and up and down battle...
Stage 5 Domat - Caslano 189.7 km
The stage opens to the Cat. 3 Flims where the climbing starts as the riders
roll off the line, to the summit at 15 km. The almost 40 km passage of Cat. 1
Lukmanierpass that starts its up hill ways after the descent of the Flims and
summits at 72 kilometers will certainly sort out the peloton, and likely
produce the first serious breaks of the day. Only the brave or foolhardy may
apply as the course is packed with difficulties in the final 40 kilometers
after putting 150 kilometers of racing in your legs.
The Lukmanierpass is followed the 35 km descent will give opportunity to
for the non climbers to chase back. As well, it will make it hard for escapees
to keep a gap as they enter the last 70 kilometers.
In the final half of the race the riders still have two climbs to overcome
to the finish: The Cat. 3 Monte Ceneri at 140 km/50 km to go and the final
brutal 7 km climb of the Cat. 2 Cademario (140 km) with that final tough 40 km
of climbing the riders will face a fast down hill finish of 9 kilometers to
the Caslano finish.
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