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Tour de Suisse - Stage 5 Live
By Staff
Date: 6/18/2008
Tour de Suisse - Stage 5 Live

Tour de Suisse - Stage 5 Live
A hilly and difficult stage that might have a big impact on the leaderboard. Follow the action. Live. Here.

Welcome to our live coverage of stage five in the Tour of Switzerland 2008. After two easy legs coming down to as many field sprints, with Robbie McEwen back to his winning ways in both occasions, the going gets hilly again in Wednesday's 190-kilometre trip from Domat Ems in Canton Graubünden to the Lugano lakeside town Caslano, situated in the southernmost and Italian-speaking part of the nation.

Today's finish town is not far from the host towns of the next two World Champs, Italy's Varese and Switzerland's Mendrisio, and also covers part of the 1996 Worlds circuit near Lugano, but the possible rainbow jersey contenders (if any in the TdS field) are expected to give way to mountain goats and wannabe gold jersey winners today, with four categorised climbs along the way: the easy Flims (Cat. 3) and the much harder (Cat. 1) Lukmanierpass - Lucomagno for the Italian-speakers - coming in the first half of the route, as well as the "comfortable" Monte Ceneri - climbed also in the recent Giro d'Italia - in the second half, plus the Cademario ascent (Cat. 2) as potential stage decider under 20 kilometres from the finish line, which is located near Caslano's railway station. Spain's Igor Anton is likely going to have a hard time staying in control of the gold jersey today.

The stage got off to a fast and hectic start with more than one rider attacking the 153-strong peloton in the early miles. Johan van Summeren, Markus Zberg, Michael Albasini failed in their breakaway bids but when Sylvain Chavanel, one of France's most talented bike racers, gave it a shot the gap was made. The Cofidis strongman didn't go clear all by himself anyway: Pietro Caucchioli (Ita - Crédit Agricole), Marco Marzano (Ita - Lampre), Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz - Astana) and Benoit Vaugrenard (Fra - Française Des Jeux) followed his move, and Johann Tschopp (Swi - Bouygues Telecom), Morris Possoni (Ita - Team High Road), Giovanni Visconti (Ita - Quick Step), José Rujano (Ven - Caisse d'Epargne), Pieter Jacobs (Bel - Silence-Lotto), Mathieu Perget (Fra - Caisse d'Epargne) and Alessandro Vanotti (Ita - Liquigas) joined the front group soon later.

With several top-quality riders, Italy's national RR champion Visconti included, from many different squads on the front one could predict a successful outcome for such breakaway, but with Caucchioli just 01'48" down to Igor Anton in the overall standings the Orange Warriors back in the peloton stepped up the chase as the gap rose to two minutes, and halved the time deficit about forty kilometres into the stage.

It looked like the fugitives were going to get caught, a case not welcomed by Chavanel and Visconti, who attacked the lead group after km. 45. Pieter Jacob, Marco Marzano, José Rujano, Benoit Vaugrenard and Maxim Iglinsky managed to respond to their move such that we have got a seven-man breakaway group in the lead at the moment. Mathieu Perget, Jens Voigt (Den - Team CSC), Pietro Caucchioli, Steve Morabito (Swi - Astana), Johan Tschopp and Alessandro Vanotti trail them by 38 seconds and the peloton's gap to the leaders, back to its growing ways, amounted to 02'28" at the latest check, with the virtual overall leadership "on the road" going back and forth between Veneto's Caucchioli and Spain's Igor Anton.

Mathieu Perget got across to the lead group, subsequently up to eight riders, while Alessandro Vanotti loses contact with the first chase bunch. At his turn Vaugrenard was dropped by the breakaway group on the Lukmanier climb. The Frenchman couldn't follow the tempo set by the closest chasers either.

The breakaway group came across the top of the first category climb about one minute clear of Jens Voigt and the rest of the first chase group. The long descent that follows saw their advantage on the main peloton go up to three minutes: not enough for Mathieau Perget, trailing Anton by 03 minutes and 34 seconds in the GC at the stage kickoff, to become virtual race leader on the road.

The frontrunners reach the feed zone while Caucchioli's hopes for gold (jersey) vanish as the Italian, Jens Voigt, Steve Morabito and Johan Tschopp are caught by the peloton that made it to the same area soon after. Euskaltel are currently in control of things, even if Perget and perhaps also Maxim Iglinsky - 04'33" back on GC - still pose some threat to Igor Anton and his overall leadership of the race with 75 km left.

He'd better watch out for other riders too: Damiano Cunego and Franck Schleck keep the Spaniard within striking distance and could try and give him some difficult times in the last two climbs of the day, the fourth and final in particular.

1655 CEST - The "orange clockwork" on the front of the pack of the pack picked up the pace again and cut the gap to the breakaway down to just two minutes.

1704 CEST - The race is about to hit Monte Ceneri, the third climb of the day. We'll see if Iglinskiy (stage winner a few days ago), Chavanel and the others on the front can hold on to their lead as the road keeps tilting upward again. Iglinskiy showed some good legs as he won the "Lucomagno" mountain sprint from Tricolore jersey holder Visconti.  Skies are grey over the race today, but it's not raining at last.

The Monte Ceneri is over too, and the front group extended their lead to three minutes with 38k to go. Euskatel lead the peloton with the help of a lone Gerolsteiner rider as CSC, High Road and Lampre riders follow in attendance.

1715 CEST - 35 km to go, 3:06 the gap, The front group consists of nine riders, and amongst them there is also Pietro Caucchioli, who was NOT chased down by the field, our apologies for that. The Credit Agricole man from Verona is the brand new race leader on the road. Chavanel, Jacobs, Iglinsky, Tschopp, Morabito are also in the lead group.  And so is Giovanni Visconti, winner of the Monte Ceneri KOM Sprint.

As much as Marzano and Jens Voigt, both on the front. But cooperation seems to be over in the breakaway, with Morabito trying to speed off on his own. Euskaltel are trying hard to make up for their recent time losses, and with High Road helping them a lot, it looks they're being successful. The gap got back to its dropping antics, falling to 02 minutes and 15 seconds about 32 km from the line.

Astana's Swissman Steve Morabito apparently succeeded in making the gap and taking some 100 metres and a 14 second gap or more on the other escapees. Morabito's advantage on Caucchioli, Voigt, Visconti, Tschopp, Marzano and Iglinskiy to half a minute.

1722 CEST, 30 km to go,1:42 the gap as Morabito runs his escape up to 40 seconds on his former breakmates.  But now Jensational Voigt cranks up the pace in an attempt to ride away from Visconti and the others. The man in white, red and green, Maglia Rosa for several days at the past Giro d'Italia, covers his move.

Morabito looks unstoppable: the Astana rider took his advantage up to new heights: 46 seconds But the Visconti/Voigt/Caucchioli group are losing time to the chasers too: the peloton trails them by less than 50 seconds.  And trails the solo escapee by 01'37" with 28k to go. Morabito won a stage at Tour de Suisse back in the days of 2006, but it's hard for him to repeat victory with the Astana jersey: the peloton is coming.

1726 CEST -  The chase machine brought Visconti, Caucchioli, Voigt and all other former escapees back. Only one man remain on the front: Steve Morabito.  But his resistance could be futile: the Swiss lost half a minute to the chasers in the last 2-3 kms. His advantage fell under 60 seconds.

24 km to go, gap 1:02, The gap keeps hovering around the minute as Morabito is about to hit the last ascent of the stage. And so are all other guys in the saddle. Team CSC rush to the front to pick up the pace as the going gets vertical for the fourth time today. They will want to release the Schleck brothers on the final climb.

22 km to go, Morabito's lead down to some 50 secs on the Cademario slopes. It's Quickstep's time on the front of the stretched peloton as they take on the Cademario's first mile.  It's a climb of 6.9 kilometres, whose gradients go up to about 15 percent. But the following descent can make the difference too.

1735 CEST - Cunego, Devolder and the Schlecks look good in the first places of the field. Now a team High Road guy tries to put some time on the pack. He opened a small gap, but an Astanaman followed his move while Morabito is about to be caught. The fireworks are starting for real. Morabito is chased down, but the peloton is breaking into pieces with more attacks on the front.

21 km to go, Now it's Devolder making the gap. The Belgian National Champion is followed by yet another Astana guy, Serguei Ivanov perhaps. Oscar Freire is being dropped.

Devolder and Russia's Ivanov are still clear. Their wicked attack seems successful. Of course it's the man in yellow, black and red that does the whole job. A Liqui-guy drives the chase with Cunego in fifth wheel and Anton slightly behind him. It's Geroslteiner that drives the peloton charge now. But Devolder and Ivanov enjoy a 17-second advantage.

19 km to go, The Russian is 01'03" down on GC btw. Liquigas' Roman Kreuziger gets back to his pace setting taks, with Zaugg, Anton and Cunego following. The chase is bearing fruit, the gap is down to a dozen seconds. 14 riders left in the first chase group as the peloton shatters behind. Devolder realizes that and sits up, but Ivanov counter-attacks and goes away on his own.

Franck Schleck puts in a blistering attack... the peloton in the distance.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Franck Schleck puts in an all-out attack 18 kilometres from the finish. Neither Cunego nor Anton follow the move. Schleck quickly joins Ivanov, and immediately tries to drop him. The guys are leading Cunego, Anton and the others by 13 seconds. Franck Schleck succeeds, and remains alone on the front.

1745 CEST - Gap 24 seconds, More attacks come in the "Golden Jersey Group": it's the turn of Gerolsteiner's Zaugg. Cunego doesn't look fine today instead. The Italian is struggling to stay with the Anton group. Schleck opened a solid gap on Ivanov, not to mention the gold jersey wearer: he leads Anton by 21 seconds. Markus Fothen stepped up his own solo chase of the leader while Cunego is dropped by the "peloton" A peloton containing Anton as well as a dozen more guys. But none of them wearing Euskaltel's orange jersey.

17 km to go, Andy Schleck is still part of the Anton group while his elder brother keeps increasing his advantage. Schleck leads Fothen by fourteen seconds at the summit of the ascent while the Anton group comes in 35 seconds back. Cunego and Kloeden are a further 15 seconds behind.

15 km to go,  Franck Schleck is the new race leader on the road, but now there's a difficult descent coming, and the CSC rider has never been a Savoldelli in this sense. The Luxembourgian may get some help from better descender Fothen, who just closed down on him. Two men on the front now.

Marcus Zberg, Michael Albasini and Stefan Schumacher respond.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

1750 CEST - The peloton also make time gains on Schleck: the gap fell to 22 seconds at the 14k to go check. The race hit a small uphill portion again, and Schleck gets back to displaying his good climbing legs. 13 km to go. Michael Albasini of Liquigas tries a solo attack. No green light from the peloton for the man in lime green though. Serguei Ivanov closes down on him.

Attacks follow as the stage steps into the last dozen kilometres, with Schleck and Fothen keeping a 24-second lead. Now it's Daniel Moreno of Caisse d'Epargne that gives it ago, and Ivanov that covers ALSO this attempt. The two get a gap...  Schleck paces the German but their lead on chasing pair Moreno/Ivanov came down to only 16 seconds. The Russian and the Spaniard are caught by the Anton Group, driven by waterboy Stefan Schumacher. 10 km to go...

1800 CEST - Good news for Schleck: the advantage is going up again. Twenty-four seconds with the finish just 9 kilometres away. But it's not over until is over, you know. They are on the descent proper now into Caslano.  Franck is not new to winning stages in this race, but he's aiming for more now: he wants to gold jersey too. Nothing changed on the gap side of the matter over the last thousand metres. With Anton giving everything he can, the pairing on the front maintains a 25-second lead.

6 km to go, gap: 26 seconds, Half a dozen kilometres left. Fothen and Schleck lead the Igor Anton group by 26 seconds. Liquigas are driving the chase. They're giving the Spaniard a precious helping hand.

Five to Casnago. FRANCK SCHLECK FALLS - A HORRIBLE FALL. He fell off the road. He hit the steel barrier and cart wheeled over into the ravine below as his bike continued down the rail.  His fall was impressive, but the man thankfully is up and didn't suffer any consequences. Apart from losing all chances to win the stage and get the jersey, but it couldn't have been much worse, believe us ...

3 km to go...   So it's Fothen on the lead all by himself now, on the way to stage victory. The German extended his gap to 44 seconds. The sun is over Fothen as the German moves into the last thousand metres... Here he comes, a few hundred metres left. An Astana man attacks the field.

And Fothen crosses the line. HE WINS THE STAGE.

 Marcussssssssssssssssss Fooooooooothen

Markus Fothen finishes with a solo victory. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Serguei Ivanov of Astana comes in second place  at 48 seconds. A Waterboy wins the battle for third place a few seconds back. A second group with Cunego and Freire inside are coming. Philippe Gilbert wins such bunch sprint at about 01'50".

Franck Schleck hasn't crossed the line yet. But he's about to come, he arrives about three minutes behind the winner. But UNHURT, and after watching pictures of his dramatic fall, that's what really matters now. Thankfully Schleck got some minor bruises from that spectacular fall only. Schleck rides over the line showing his Saint Christopher medal thanking and showing the guide of travelers his appreciation.

Stage 5 Results (top ten)
1. Markus Fothen GST 4h47'31''
2. Serguei Ivanov AST  0'50''
3. Markus Zberg GST  0'57''

4. Michael Albasini LIQ  0'57''
5. Alexandre Botcharov C.A.  0'57''
6. Stefan Schumacher GST  0'57''
7. Daniel Morena GCE  0'57''
8. Andy Schleck CSC  0'57''
9. Stijn Devolder QSI  0'57''
10. Christian Knees MRM  0'57''

 Damiano Cunego was the biggest loser of the day GC-wise: the Italian got out of the top ten spots overall. Gaps among the top overall contenders are quite small however. Cunego sits in 15th at the end of the day 1:09 off Anton's pace.

General Classification After Stage 5
1 Igor Anton ESP EUS 21h25'12''
2 Kim Kirchen LUX THR   0'06''
3 Oliver Zaugg SUI GST   0'18''

4 Roman Kreuziger CZE LIQ   0'21''
5 Stijn Devolder BEL QST    0'22''
6 Thomas Lövkvist SWE THR   0'25''
7 Markus Fothen GER GST    0'31''
8 Andy Schleck LUX CSC   0'40''
9 Sergui Ivanov RUS AST   0'50''
10 Andreas Klöden GER AST   1'00''

A smiling Marcus Fothen arrives on the podium to the cheers of the fans as another group finishes in the background. Fothen scored his first ever stage victory at Tour de Suisse, even if the German had stamped his authority on the nation's other top stage race (Tour de Romandie) already.

And now Igor Anton, who had to keep his legs going today however, can smile from the podium, his yellow jersey proudly on.  He's going to have more and more difficult times tomorrow, with the next stage featuring a mountain top finish. Igor receives his kisses from the two beautiful Swiss podium misses bringing a wider smile to his face.

Rene Weissenger and Oscar Freire follow to collect their respective Points and Sprints leaders jerseys.

Thanks for joining us for today's live report of Stage 5. Join us tomorrow for the 188 kilometer stage from Ambri to Verbier, another day for the climbers with a mountain top finish. A stage sure to have a long escape on the first Hors Categorie climb the Nufenenpass and finish on the summit of the Cat. 1 Verbier.

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