Another bouquet for Boonen
By Shane Stokes in Baden
World champion Tom Boonen has done it again, winning the opening stage of the Tour of Switzerland to take his seventeenth win of the season. The Quick.Step rider outsprinted Lampre's Daniel Bennati, former rainbow jersey Oscar Freire (Rabobank) plus 79 other riders at the end of the mainly flat 154.8 kilometre stage to Baden and took the first yellow jersey in the process.
Sprint rivals Robbie McEwen (Davitamon Lotto) and Erik Zabel (Team Milram) were part of a 67 man group which lost contact with the peloton on a short but very steep fourth category climb, which came on the second of two finishing laps.
The sunny first stage was marked by a long distance lone break by Astana Würth rider José Antonio Redondo Ramos. The Spaniard broke clear 24 kilometres after the start in Baden and opened up a maximum lead of 8 minutes and 45 seconds by kilometre 66. The gap dropped to 4 minutes 30, after which Michael Albasini (Liquigas) and compatriot Steve Zampieri (Phonak) rocketed away from the bunch on the fourth category Baldingen/Rüti climb, with around 60 km to go. They bridged up to the leader 20 kilometres later and then dropped him on the second ascent of the steep Hertenstein climb. However the main bunch reeled them in with six kilometres left. Lorenzo Bernucci (T-Mobile) tried his luck two kilometres later but the teams of Freire and Boonen were too strong, delivering their leaders to the finish where they and Bennati scrapped it out between them for the win and the first yellow jersey.