Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) took the overall lead in the Tour de Suisse on Monday as Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) won stage 3.
Schleck popped out of a small bunch of contenders to take the victory in the 197km stage from Sierre to Schwarzenburg. Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d’Epargne) followed in second with Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) third.
Martin finished 10th, good enough to take the leader’s jersey by a single second from Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), who was gapped in the finale.
Monday’s stage 3 featured two rated climbs, the most significant of which was the 18.3km Category 1 Col des Mosses, which summited at 84.4km at an altitude of 1,445 meters.
Another climb, the Category 3 Kalchstätten, topped out just 24.6km from the finish. It was followed by a series of short, tough, unrated climbs, including a 2.2km uphill finish that has some 11 percent pitches.
Three riders did not take the start: Peter Sagan (Liquigas), Dominik Nerz (Milram) and Joao Correia (Cervélo TestTeam). Sagan finished stage 2 nearly 11 minutes down on stage-winner Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo); the others had unspecified medical issues.
The break du jour
Alexander Pliuschin (Katusha), Jussi Veikkanen (Française des Jeux) and Ermanno Capelli (Footon-Servetto) took off early and built a lead of 2:05 by the 40km mark. Veikkanen was best placed on GC, sitting 69th at 2:18, and before long he was the race leader on the road as the peloton let the leash all the way out to 13 minutes by the base of the Col des Mosses.
The leaders actually added to their advantage on the ascent, stretching the leash to more than 15 minutes over a decidedly uninterested peloton, being led by Fabian Cancellara’s Saxo Bank squad.
Some 90km from the finish the escapees still held an advantage of more than 13 minutes. Then, finally, the peloton clocked in and began to take back time. In the next 40km the bunch slashed the break’s lead in half.
The catch — and the finale
With 50km to race the gap was five minutes flat, and a catch seemed certain. Astana’s Valeriy Dmitriyev and Vacansoleil’s Brice Feillu tried to bridge with 35km to race, but they got nowhere, and the gap continued to dwindle, to just over two minutes.
Veikkanen was first to crack on the first of two trips up the finishing hill, followed by Capelli, and Pliuschin soon found himself alone with 30km to race.
He, too, was pulled back, and rider after rider tried to escape the bunch without success. Michael Albasini (HTC-Columbia), Luis-Leon Sanchez (Caisse d’Epargne) and Gian-Paolo Cheula (Footon-Servetto) all tried escapes, and all failed.
Then Bernard Eisel (HTC) took a dig, marked by Uran, and Schleck countered, shooting past the two in the final steep kilometers. He held his advantage to the line — only to see his teammate lose the jersey.
- 1. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank in 5:02:21
- 2. Rigoberto Uran Uran Caisse D’epargne at 0
- 3. Bauke Mollema Rabobank at 3
- 4. Steve Morabito BMC Racing Team at 3
- 5. Matteo Carrara Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team at 3