Columbia-Highroad’s Michael Albasini won the fifth stage of the Tour of Switzerland, a 202-kilometer race from Staefa in Switzerland to Serfaus in Austria.
Tadej Valjavec (Ag2r) retained the race lead, even managing to drop his biggest rival on Wednesday – Saxo Bank’s Andy Schleck – down the overall standings.
Valjavec now leads Swiss rider Oliver Zaugg, of Liquigas, by 14 seconds with four stages remaining.
Olympic time trial champion Fabian Cancellara of Saxo-Bank battled hard in the closing few hundred meters to close the gap to Albasini, but the big Swiss could only finish runner-up.
Damiano Cunego (Lampre) took third place as the 28-year-old Albasini grabbed his second stage win of the race, after his maiden win at the Swiss tour in 2005, to make it an impressive 38 wins this season for Columbia.
The leaders were among the main field, which earlier caught up with a pair of escapees who had sped in front on the descent from the 1793 meter Arbergpas, then over the border into Austria.
On the final incline up to the finish line, Tony Martin (Columbia) attacked on several occasions, but he was soon overhauled, as was Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) after his late surge to the front.
The racers are back in Switzerland for Thursday’s sixth stage, a 177km ride from Oberriet to Bad Zurzach.
The nine-stage race, finishing in Bern on Sunday, is the last big warm-up for the Tour de France which starts on July 4 at Monaco.
- 1. Michael Albasini (SUI), Columbia-Highroad, 5hr 24min 03sec
- 2. Fabian Cancellara (SUI), Saxo Bank, same time
- 3. Damiano Cunego (GER), Lampre, s.t.
- 4. Oliver Zaugg (SUI), Liquigas, s.t.
- 5. Vladimir Karpets (RUS), Katusha, s.t.
- 6. Roman Kreuziger (CZE), Liquigas, s.t.
- 7. Frank Schleck (LUX), Saxo Bank, s.t.
- 8. Andreas Kloden (GER), Astana, s.t.
- 9. Tadej Valjavec (SLO), Ag2r, s.t.
- 10. Kim Kirchen (LUX), Columbia-Highroad, s.t.
- 1. Tadej Valjavec (SLO), Ag2r, 18:52:01
- 2. Oliver Zaugg (SWI), Liquigas, at 0:14
- 3. Fabian Cancellara (SUI), Saxo Bank, 0:14
- 4. Roman Kreuziger (CZE), Liquigas, 0:42
- 5. Andreas Kloden (GER), Astana, 0:45
- 6. Tony Martin (GER), Columbia-Highroad, 0:54
- 7. Maxime Monfort (BEL), Columbia-Highroad, 0:55
- 8. Gustav Larsson (SWE), Saxo Bank, 0:56
- 9. Vladimir Karpets (RUS), Katusha, 1:01
- 10. Rein Taaramae (EST), Cofidis, 1:02