Tour de Suisse review

This year’s Tour de Suisse had some weather problems (snow curtailing stage two, inflatable banners coming down), some worrying crashes (one Tour contender and an IAM cat) and some magnificent racing. Defending champion Rui Costa, won two stages – but what stages they were! The first was the queen stage, which put him second in the GC, the other the final individual time trial, where he locked up the overall with a brilliant ride on a challenging uphill parcours. Next stop: the Tour de France. Here’s how the race unfolded.

Stage 1

Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEDGE) set an early best time of 9:39 and hung on to take the opening stage. The weather was a big problem for the heavy hitters at the end of the day, as a very strong headwind kept anyone who started in the last hour from making the top ten. Fabian Cancellara was the only one of the late starters who came within 30 seconds of Meyer, finishing 16th, 22 seconds down.

GC: 1. Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEDGE), 2. Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +0.10, 3. Heinrich Haussler (IAM) +0:14.

Stage casualty: The barriers along the route, which kept blowing over onto the course as the day progressed.

Stage 2

Bauke Mollema (Blanco) won an exciting stage with an attack on the final climb of Crans Montana that vanquished Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), who had been in front for most of the final 10km, less than 500 metres from the finish. Mathias Frank (BMC) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) were second and third respectively, with a tired Hesjedal in fourth.

GC: 1. Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEDGE), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) +0:03, 3. Mathias Frank (BMC) +0:05.

Stage casualty: The Nufenenpass. The stage was shortened by 35km with the removal of the HC Nufenenpass due to snow, much to the delight of quite a few riders.

Picture 5

Stage 3

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) reminded everyone of how he uses his sharp racing mind as much as his physical power in taking a rain-drenched win. Sagan bided his time until he struck out and followed Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) down a treacherously slick descent of the last climb of the day, with Rui Costa (Movistar) and virtual race leader Frank in tow. Sagan then pulled away from the group under the flamme rouge, only waiting for Costa who subsequently seemed to do his bidding by leading the Slovak out before the afterburners were turned on and Sagan was in front of him, doing a victory salute.

GC: 1. Mathias Frank (BMC), 2. Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) +0:23, 3. Rui Costa (Movistar) +0:35.

Stage casualty: Ryder Hesjedal’s good form was cruelly cut short with a bad crash about 50km from the stage finish. His injuries necessitated a trip to hospital and abandonment of the race but it is thought that his Tour participation hasn’t been jeopardised.

Stage 4

FDJ’s Arnaud Demare used a keen reading of the road book to beat Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Garmin-Sharpie Tyler Farrar in a tight and technical sprint finish. Demare swept through the final corner in front, a sharp right-hand just 200 metres from the finish, which set him up nicely for the win.

GC: 1. Mathias Frank (BMC), 2. Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) +0:23, 3. Rui Costa (Movistar) +0:35.

Stage casualty: The dreams of a breakaway win by Jens Voigt. The hardest man in the peloton was in the break for most of the day, eventually riding alone as his companions fell away one by one. It was only in the last few kilometres that the German was swept up, crushing the Twitter dreams of many a fan.

Stage 5

Here’s a phrase you don’t see very often: Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff outsprinted Peter Sagan to take the stage win. But that’s exactly what he did. With just 300 metres to go, Sagan and Demare launched their attacks for the line, but Kristoff used the wheel of Matti Breschel (Saxo-Tinkoff) like a slingshot in the final 150 metres to blaze past the pair, arms aloft.

GC: 1. Mathias Frank (BMC), 2. Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) +0:23, 3. Rui Costa (Movistar) +0:35.

Stage casualty: Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) had to abandon after crashing hard early in the stage and suffering a concussion.

Stage 6

RadioShack-Leopard’s Gregory Rast went clear in the final kilometre to win his (almost) hometown stage. Rast had been in a four-man break with Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha), Bert Grabsch (OPQS) and Mathew Hayman (Sky) from the 30km mark of the 188km stage. Rast later said he’d been trying to win a stage here for ten years.

GC: 1. Mathias Frank (BMC), 2. Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) +0:23, 3. Rui Costa (Movistar) +0:35.

Stage casualty: Heinrich Haussler (IAM) crashed hard in the first 10km of the stage and is out for several months with a fractured pelvis and left hip.

Stage 7

Defending champion Rui Costa took a fast and furious three-man sprint on this year’s queen stage. Costa left Mollema and Tejay van Garderen (BMC) in his dust on the descent of the Albula Pass, after an aggressive day of breaks and attacks. He was awarded the stage trophy with a jaunty crown.

GC: 1. Matthias Frank (BMC), Rui Costa (Movistar) +0:13, Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) +0:23.

Stage casualty: The inflatable overhead banner at the 2km mark. The wind brought the banner down just as Costa and van Garderen were about to pass under it, holding the two up momentarily. It then was a few of the race stewards’ task to stand in the middle of the road, holding it up as the rest of the riders ducked to get under it on their way to the finish.

Stage 8

Peter Sagan took his 11th win of the season, leaving Daniele Bennati (Saxo-Tinkoff), Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) wondering what that red, white and green blur was that went past them at such speed. Sagan’s Cannondale teammates did a sterling job of chasing down the day’s breakaway and controlling the race up until the time Sagan decided it was time to show everyone what a sprint really was.

GC: 1. Matthias Frank (BMC), Rui Costa (Movistar) +0:13, Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) +0:23.

Stage 9

It was a 26.8km uphill time trial that was touted as the race decider – and it did not disappoint. Mathias Frank had been hanging onto the yellow jersey for most of the week but could only finish 19th on the day, nearly two minutes down from the overall winner who was … Movistar’s Rui Costa. Costa took the stage itself in 51:56, 26 seconds ahead of Tanel Kangert (Astana) and 29 seconds ahead of Bauke Mollema, and took the overall for the second year running.

Stage surprise: Andy Schleck (RadioShack) finished 35th in the time trial.

Final standings

1. Rui Costa (Movistar) 31.08.11

2. Bauke Mollema (Blanco) +1:02

3. Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) +1:10

4. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +1:26

5. Mathias Frank (BMC) +1:43

6. Tanel Kangert (Astana) +1:51

7. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) +2:23

8. Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) +2:42

9. Simon Spilak (Katusha) +2:42

10. Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEDGE) +3:44

Points jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)

Sprint jersey: Robert Vrecer (Euskaltel-Euskadi)

Mountains jersey: Robert Vrecer (Euskaltel-Euskadi)

Team classification: Astana

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