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Tour de Suisse - Stage 6 Live Part 1
By Staff
Date: 6/19/2008
Tour de Suisse - Stage 6 Live Part 1

Tour de Suisse - Stage 6 Live
A crucial stage with the mountain top finish at Verbier potentially having quite of an impact on the GC. All the action live here.

Hi everyone, welcome to our live ticker of stage 6 in the 2008 Tour de Suisse. Today's leg takes the field from the Italian-speaking town of Ambri to Verbier (in Canton Valais, in the French-speaking south-western corner of the nation) over 188 kilometres, with the mountain top finish having the potential to shake up the GC. The journey has an uphill start with the Hors Category Nufenenpass coming under 30 kilometres into the stage. A good 120 easy (downhill or flat) kilometres follows before the road gets vertical one more time at Martigny about 30 km. from the finish. But the real first category ascent to the line begins later.

Euskaltel-Euskadi's Igor Anton stayed in control of the gold jersey yesterday, even if he had to work hard to, but it's gonna be very difficult for the Spaniard to maintain his leadership also on the Verviere slopes today. Yesterday's hilly trip into Caslano was also featured by Markus Fothen's solo victory, in fact his first ever triumph on Tour de Suisse roads, but notably Franck Schleck's dramatic and spectacular fall: the Team CSC Luxembourgian ended up into a ravine as he lost control in a sharp turn, but miracously got away almost completely unhurt. The biggest loser of the stage on GC terms was arguably Damiano Cunego, who finished 29th in the stage ranking and slipped several places to 15th overall, one minute and nine seconds behind the leader.

A bunch of 144 riders rolled out of Ambri town in unusually favourable weather conditions earlier today; all of yesterday's finishers but Matej Jurco, Enrico Poitschke, Sebastian Langefeld, Gianni Meersman, Koldo Fernandez, Marcel Sieberg, Olaf Pollack and the BMC Racing team duo Jonathan Garcia and Antonio Cruz.

Unlike previous stages, today's had a calm start, and it took some time for the first moves to come, courtesy of Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz -Astana) and David Loosli (Swi -Lampre), the latter vying for more points in order to strengthen his grip on the King of the Mountain jersey. The Kazakh succeeded in making the gap but Loosli and fellow chasers Ivan Santaromita (Ita - Liquigas) and Hubert Schwab (Swi - Quick Step) didn't give up in their attempt to close down the gap. At his turn Darren Lill (USA - BMC Racing Team) gives it a go at closing down on the three chasers. But Loosli dropped Santaromita and Schwab and continued as solo pursuer of the Astana frontrunner on the opening climb.

In the meantime a new chase trio formed behind Iglinskiy and Loosli, containing Jens Voigt (Ger - Team CSC) Josť Rujano (Ven - Caisse d'Epargne) and Steve Zampieri (Swi - Cofidis).

Maxim Iglinsky came first over the top of the Tour de Suisse highest peak, but the first chase group went up to ten men and the Kazakh was caught on the descent, resulting in an eleven-strong breakaway group, whose members are as follows:

- Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz - Astana);
- Maarten Tjallingii (Hol - Silence-Lotto);
- Jens Voigt (Ger - Team CSC);
- Josť Rujano (Ven - Caisse d'Epargne);
- Steve Zampieri (Swi - Cofidis);
- David Loosli ((Swi - Lampre);
- Philip Deignan (Ire - Ag2r-La Mondiale);
- Giovanni Visconti (Ita - Quick Step);
- Mathias Frank (Ger - Gerolsteiner);
- Johann Tschopp (Swi - Bouygues Telecom);
- Andreas Dietziker (Swi - Team Volksbank)

Dietziker is the best-placed rider on GC in the front group, but his gap to Igor Anton (09 minutes and 15 seconds) currently keeps him from putting the Spaniard in jeopardy.

The eleven-man breakaway took their advantage up to much more dangerous heights: about seven minutes with some 135k to go. Five escapees (Iglinskiy, Tschopp, Voigt, the Italian National RR champion Visconti and tiny climber Rujano) were on the attack also yesterday, by the way. Dietziker also tried to get into the "breakaway of the day" in the past stage but didn't succeed.

106k to go. The escape group made it to the end of the Nufenen descent, a long ride on the flats all the way to the foot of the final climb is coming next.

Maxim Iglinsky, Maarten Tjallingii, Jens Voigt, Josť Rujano, Steve Zampieri, David Loosli, Philip Deignan, Giovanni Visconti, Mathias Frank, Johann Tschopp and Andreas Dietziker increased their advantage over the peloton to about ten minutes, turning Volskbank's Dietziker into virtual race leader on the road. As a result, Euskaltel finally started to put in some little chasing efforts, with slightly over 90 kilometres remaining.

Hmmm ... chasing efforts we said? No way! Or at least with no reward so far: the gap keeps getting bigger and bigger; it was close to a dozen minutes after one hundred kilometres.

85k to go for the breakaway group, that just reached the feed zone. Giovanni Visconti showed some good legs at the Giro, but kept his excellent condition also in the month of June, whose last days will see the the Sicilian rider defend the road race title he won at the Italian nationals one year ago.

Eighty kilometres to go, and the gap to the eleven escapees starts to drop for real at last. The stretched peloton took it down to about ten minutes; not yet enough for Igor Anton to get back the race leadership "on the road" however.

1700 CEST - The pack let those guys enjoy their time in the sun and Dietziker enjoy his "virtual gold jersey", but now the chasing machine has resumed its full work, and quickly cut the advantage of the breakaway group down to seven and a half minutes with 72 km. to go.

1710 CEST - The gap is coming down big time: the eleven frontunners have only four minutes on the field with 45 to go. And cooperation is apparently over in the front group: six riders attacked and opened up a small gap on the others.

The peloton, driven by Team High Road and Liquigas, is not wasting too many energies in the chase however. Their recent time gains on the breakaway didn't need too many efforts. And now for some reason the peloton slows the pace. And the gap stops coming down. It was around 03'50" one mile ago, it's back over four minutes.

Perhaps they didn't want to catch the fugitives too early.† In any event, they lost more than 20 seconds to the breakaway in the last 2,000 metres. The front group is back as one. All eleven riders are together, working with each other. Should the guys still be ahead as the race hits the final ascent, Rujano, Voigt and notably Iglinskiy and Loosli would have the highest chances to take line honours today.

1720 CEST - The orange of Euskaltel (and a couple Rabo-boys) seized power again on the front of the field.

Route Du Sud update: the Australian Simon Gerrans won today's race opener. More news on the event in a separate article later.

Back to Suisse, where the distance to the line fell under 40 kilometres, but the advantage over the field rose to over four and a half minutes.† Franck Schleck sits comfortably in the middle of the pack. After yesterday's stage drama, he doesn't dare to make a move today...

1727 CEST -† Strong winds are seemingly blowing from the side, and the chasing peloton stretches out sideways. 4 Euskaltel warriors on the front pushing the pace across the valley floor with the magnificent snow covered mountains as the backdrop under perfect sunny skies. Powerful side wind gusts are not that uncommon in the Swiss valley they are currently going through.

The latest gap update saw Loosli, Iglinksiy, Visconti, Rujano, Voigt, Dietziker and their five breakaway companions lead the Euskaltel-driven bunch by about 04'40" with 36k left. The going will get vertical in a few miles again. Milram and CSC riders are in attendance at the front behind the orangemen.

The peloton is 100 percent stretched, but this is not much of help to the chasers: the gap remains basically unchanged in the last five kilometres.

1738 CEST - 30 km to go, The Martigny castle overlooks the peloton as the finish line is 29 kilometres away and the pack still have to make up for a time deficit of 04 minutes and 28 seconds.

Our Live Coverage of Stage 6 Continues in Part 2

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