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74th Tour de Suisse - Stage 3
By Staff
Date: 6/14/2010
74th Tour de Suisse - Stage 3

74th Tour de Suisse - Stage 3
Frank Schleck surprises in the uphill finish - Tony Martin takes the yellow jersey by a sole second over Fabian Cancellara

June 12 - 20, 2010

Stage 3: Sierre - Schwarzenburg 196.6 km
Saxo Bank's Frank Schleck responding to an attack by Tony Martin in the final 800 meters of the final 1.5 km climb to the finish. Schleck counter attacked off the front of the shattered field of about 50 riders on the final 300 meters on the final steeps tosolo to victory...

Caisse d'Epargne's Colombian Rigoberto Uran just managed to catch Frank's wheel as he crossed the line celebrating his triumph on the stage and took second on the stage.

The duo were followed to the line 3 seconds later by  Rabobank youngster Bauke Mollema BMC's Swiss rider Steve Morabito and  Vacansoleil's Matteo Carrara in that order claiming the top 5 spots after a fast stage fought out under rain and wind.

HTC/Columbia's Tony Martin took the yellow jersey off Schleck's teammate Fabian Cancellara beating the Swiss champion to the line by 4 seconds. Martin finished in the first group at 3 seonds, wwhile Cancellara rolled in the second group with Armstrong and the other favorites at 7 seconds now follows Martin in the G.C. at 1 second with  Thomas Lovkvist of SKY at 9 seconds.

First comments from Frank Schleck on his win... ”It was an incredibly tough finale which in many ways reminded me of the Ardennes Classics. 300 meters from the top of the climb, I launched the crucial attack and the last kilometer from the top of the climb to the finish line was probably the longest I have ever done. We are privileged to have a powerful world class line-up and we have several candidates for the overall win in this race.”

D.S. Kim Andersen seemed pleased to lose the lead of the race for the moment...  ”Fränk Schleck has been in great shape throughout the spring and now the results really start coming. It was an amazing solo victory in a peloton loaded with strong riders getting ready for the Tour de France and today's finale was very similar to the one he won in Tour de Luxembourg. That Tony Martin takes the jersey is only to our advantage as we now don't have to take responsibility for the field.”

As for Tony Martin, second last year he has no intention of letting go of the yellow jersey anytime in the next 7 days, saying after the stage,  "My initial idea was to come to the Suisse mainly as part of my build-up for the Tour de France. But this is a very prestigious race, I'm very proud to be in the lead, and I've no intention of letting it go easily. The next two stages are more for the sprinters, it's stage six on Thursday which will be the big test."

On his timing for the attack today the Martin commented, "I was feeling really strong on the last stage and I realized the moment had come to attack. After a while, though, I didn't feel quite as good and I decided to slow down and wait for the others to come back to me. I made sure I didn't lose too much time in the last kilometre, not going full gas and trying to save a bit of strength for any late attacks."

Stage 3: Sierre - Schwarzenburg 196.6 km

The  days 196 kilometer stage got underway under a warning grey sky short three of its bike warriors: Peter Sagan (Liquigas - Doimo), Joao Correia (Cervélo) and Dominique Nerz (Milram). The action got erupted almost immediately while  riders were jockeying for  position to attack while being escorted through the 4.7 neutral zone.

Saxo Bank kept the peloton together until a break of three;  Alexander Pliuschin (Katusha), Jussi Veikkanen (Francaise des Jeux) and Footon/Servetto's Ermanno Capelli opened a 30 second gap with 175 kilometers to go.

Our three adventurers quickly outdistanced the peloton claiming a six minute gap only 12 km later. By the 50 km marker the three had 13 minutes and continued to book away from the Saxo Bank led peloton as they raced to the real difficulty of the day the Category 1 Col de Mosses.

Our three animators impressed as they went over the summit of the Mosses taking another 2 minutes out of their Saxo Bank chasers. Alexandre Pliuschin led Ermano Capelli and Jussi Veikkanen over the summit with Euskaltel's Aitor Hernandez  leading the peloton through 15 minutes later. Behind the peloton had split on the climb with 80 riders leading on the descent.

Cancellara took to the front and and took two minutes out of the leaders as they approached Epany... with 75 km to go Capelli, Pliushcin and Veikkanen resisted the chase well with a gap of around 11:25 as Saxo Bank upped the pressure on the front as much to catch the escape as to widen the gap of the riders dropped on the climb of the Mosses.

Saxo Bank continued to pound the pace on the front as the escapees tried to hold their gap in a strong headwind; but they were losing ground to the Saxo Bankers who closed in to 5 minutes with 50 km to go. Above the threatening skies delivered on their promise with 40 km to go dousing the riders with buckets of rain.

With only ten km to go to the start of the final 30 km circuit in Schwarzenburg, our three amigos continued to resist. Footon's Capelli led through the sprint in Heitenried followed by Francaise des Jeux's Veikkanen and Katusha's Pliuschin.

The Saxo Bank led mob followed two minutes and ten seconds later foiling an attack by young Astana rider Valeriy Dmityev at 27 km to go.

Pliuschin launched an attack on the climb of the Kalchstätten as the peloton closed in to 1:18. Veikkanen and Capelli were dropped and later swept up on the the climb with 25 km to go after over 150 km at the front of the race. Alone on the climb the Katusha rider Pliuschin persisted to hold the lead over the summit to claim the climbers jersey from early leader Frank Mathias.

Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil), Jacob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) and Rabobank's Robert Gesink followed Pliuschin over the summit followed by the peloton reduced again to 50 riders on the climb.

Pliuschin was caught  on a steep but uncategrized climb with 22 km to go. With 15 km to go Michael Albasini attacked, his initiative was damned with 12 km to go as the peloton was caught by a group catching on the back led by Caisse d'Epargne's Marzio Bruseghin.

Primed for the final up hill struggle of 1.5 kilometers the peloton rushed to the finish with attack after attack driving the group forward with 2 km to go the breaks were dominated before the final uphill piece. Martin attacked on the bottom as riders fought for position in the final 700 meters... Shcleck surprised on the final 300 meters rocketing out of the leadrers to get a gap and hold it to the finish for the victory.

Tomorrow's stage from Schwarzenburg to Wettingen is an up and down affair of 192 kilometers... pegged as one for the sprinters, it may not turn out quite that way with an uphill finish that will favor the classics riders more than the pure sprinters so we could see another surprise winner.

Complete Stage 3 results and General Classifications


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