By Susan Westemeyer
Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) proved to have the best legs at the top of the long climb to Flumserberg, as he broke away from his six remaining rivals to take the stage win by six seconds over Kim Kirchen (High Road) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre). Anton also took the leader's jersey from Oscar Freire (Rabobank) while pre-race favourite Andreas Klöden (Astana) lost 30 seconds on the final climb.
"When I finished second in the Euskal Bizkleta, I said that it is very difficult to win, and that one must take advantage of the opportunities," said the 25 year-old. "Today I have not failed. I am very thankful to my team-mates for the confidence that have shown in me.
"On the final ascent there were a lot of attacks. I knew that I had to be careful with people like Cunego," he added. "Kirchen is also fast... The last 300 metres seemed to me to never end, but I have achieved a very important victory for the team."
The stage was marked by rain and a long escape by Swiss AG2R rider Martin Elmiger. He left the peloton at km 39 and built up a maximum lead of 18 minutes before hitting the first climb in the middle of the stage. Once the climbs started, his lead gradually disintegrated, falling dramatically in the last 20 km until he was passed by the remains of the peloton at the start of the Flumserberg climb with 10 km to go.
That led to a furious finale, with the group of 30 or so, including all the favourites, slimming down to seven riders, with Anton sprinting out to take the win. Elmiger finished the day 155th of 158 riders, over 17 minutes down.
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