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Live coverage of stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse, 178.4km from Buochs to Leuggern.
As we pick up the action, a four-man break has a lead of 2:45 over the main peloton. Stijn Devolder (RadioShack-Leopard), Cyril Lemoine (Sojasun), Sébastien Minard (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) broke clear after 18 kilometres and, for now, the bunch seems happy to let them out there.
The BMC squad of Mathias Frank are keeping a watching brief near the head of the peloton but there's no urgency in the chase at this early stage, particularly as the best-placed man in the break is Minard, who lies 70th overall at 20:37.
The general classification situation after stage 4 was as follows:
1 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team 11:48:01
2 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:23
3 Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) Movistar Team 0:00:35
4 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team 0:00:53
5 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:57
6 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 0:01:08
7 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp 0:01:23
8 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team 0:01:26
9 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:28
10 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:01:39
On paper at least, it seems unlikely that there will be any major shake-up at the top end of the overall standings this afternoon, although with five category 4 climbs dotted inside the final 60km, there is certainly scope to disrupt the sprinters' hopes of another bunch finish.
With 100 kilometres to race, the gap between the four escapees and the bunch stands at a shade under two and a half minutes.
Not surprisingly, the Cannondale team of Peter Sagan and the FDJ squad of Arnaud Démare are setting the tempo at the front of the peloton, and they'll be hoping to control affairs over the undulating finale too. Démare scored a fine stage win yesterday, sweeping in ahead of Matt Goss' Orica-GreenEdge lead-out just ahead of the final bend, and the former under-23 world champion will be looking to repeat the feat today.
One early abandon to report from today's stage. Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) was a faller early on. The Italian attempted to continue but after receiving attention from the race doctor, he abandoned the race. His Movistar team has since reported that Visconti suffered contusions but no broken bones in the crash. He was lying fourth overall coming into today's stage.
While Stijn Devolder pedals in today's break, the future of his team remains uncertain, with reports that a number of riders and staff members have not been paid for the month of May, a situation which also unfolded last year. Team backer Flavio Becca told Cyclingnews yesterday that everyone has now been paid, however. Luxembourg newspaper Tageblatt reported last week that Becca is set to sell the team's WorldTour licence to Trek for next season.
Cannondale and FDJ's pace-setting has shaved another few seconds off the break's lead and the margin now stands at 2:10.
The break's lead has slipped to 1:50 as they head towards the day's first climb, the Zurzacherberg.
The four escapees are on the approach to the finish town of Leuggern for the first time and their advantage has stretched back out to 2:26. Yesterday, Arnaud Démare claimed victory thanks in no small part to his insightful reading of the road book beforehand. The sprinters will have no excuses for not being familiar with the finale this afternoon, as the race passes the line in Leuggern twice before the finish.
A phalanx of Cannondale are riding on the front of the peloton. Sagan is doubtless smarting after he could only manage 7th and will be looking to make amends today. The five climbs in the finale also provide an opportunity for his Cannondale squad to burn off a few of the pure sprinters.
Pauwels leads the break towards the finish line for the first time. The road rises slightly with 500 metres to go and then flatten out before curving left towards the finish line. It's a more straightforward finale than yesterday but the sprinters will have to be mindful not to open their efforts too soon. Yesterday, by contrast, it was paramount to start the sprint before the final curve with 200 metres to go.
Cannondale and FDJ lead the bunch through the finish line a shade under two minutes down on the escapees.
Pauwels has been to the fore every time the road goes uphill and it's a similar scenario on the 4th category climb of Loorweg, as he taps out the tempo for his three companions.
Orica-GreenEdge and Argos-Shimano have joined the pursuit at the front of the peloton. There are plenty of fast men left in the race and opportunities are at a premium as the week progresses.
With 45km to go, the break's lead stands at 2:38 and there is a hint of urgency beginning to creep into the peloton's pursuit of our four escapees.
Jonas Ahlstrand (Argos-Shimano) puts in a big turn on the front and the lead of the escapees is sown to 1:39.
Pauwels leads the break over the second of three ascents of the Zurzacherberg, while Michale Morkov (Saxo-Tinkoff) has launched an ambitious attack from the main peloton behind.
Michael Mørkøv is ploughing a lone furrow 1:15 down on the break, while the bunch has closed to within 1:30.
A crash near the rear of the peloton brings a handful of riders down, including Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) and Kenny Dehaes (Lotto Belisol). Scarponi is back on his bike and chasing on in the company of Simone Stortoni.
The leading quartet are continuing to collaborate smoothly but their concerted efforts looks set to be in vain. Their lead is now down to 54 seconds as the pace ratchets up another notch in the bunch.
The stage seems set for a bunch finish but a number of overall contenders are looking to position themselves well ahead of the finale, with the yellow jersey Mathias Frank (BMC) and Bauke Mollema (Blanco) among those moving up.
After passing through Leuggern for the penultimate time, the four leaders have 29 seconds in hand on the peloton.
The break hit the climb of the Loorweg once again, and it's no surprise to see that Pauwels is again the man forcing the pace.
Devolder takes over approaching the summit of the climb, attempting to breathe some life into the escape attempt but the bunch is closing in rapidly.
Nicolas Roche sets the pace in the peloton for Saxo-Tinkoff and the gap to the leaders has been slashed to 15 seconds.
Roche's pace-setting is causing problems for a number of riders at the rear of the peloton, including Roberto Vrecer (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and the bunch is about to make the juncture with the escapees.
Gruppo compatto over the top of the climb as the four leaders are swallowed up by the main peloton.
Roche hurtles down the descent at the head of the bunch, while a long line of BMC riders shepherd Mathias Frank towards the front.
Matt Goss, Tom Boonen, Arnaud Demare, Peter Sagan and Daniele Bennati (Saxo-Tinkoff) are all still in the peloton, and it's hard to imagine that the sprinters will be denied a bunch finish this afternoon.
BMC mass on the front to control affairs in defence of Frank's yellow jersey. Frank is sitting in fourth wheel, with second-placed Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-TInkoff) just a couple of rows behind him.
Marcus Burghardt (BMC) drives the pace at the head of the peloton, ahead of Tejay van Garderen and Frank. Behind the BMC train, a number of Cannondale riders are lined up, while Arnaud Demare also lurks with intent.
IAM Cycling have now nudged their way to the front in a bid to set things up for Heinrich Haussler in the finale.
Onto the Zurzacherberg for the final time and Jorge Azanza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) jumps off the front of the peloton.
Azanza opens out a 9-second lead on the climb as IAM Cycling continue to set the tempo in the field. They're seeking to shed the field of a number of fast men and favour Heinrich Haussler, but the problem for them is that so many of the sprinters in this field can more than look after themselves on the climbs, not least Peter Sagan.
Azanza is duly caught at the top of the descent as IAM Cycling continue with their forcing through Thomas Lovkvist, while BMC are lined up behind them in support of Frank.
The pace is searingly quick in the peloton, which is now stretched out in one, long line.
It's difficult for riders to move up in a situation like this, but both Demare and Sagan are well-placed around twenty places back from the front.
BMC have now taken over at the front. It's been striking that Philippe Gilbert hasn't contributed to the pace-making yet. The world champion might be tempted to try his luck on that short rise just ahead of the finish line.
Saxo-Tinkoff are trying to pilot Daniele Bennati into the box seat. The stage is set for something of a sprint royale.
IAM Cycling's work earlier on has now left Haussler quite isolated for the impending sprint finish. Katusha, who have been quiet to date, have now taken over, in support of Alexander Kristoff.
Matteo Tosatto (Saxo-Tinkoff) is now putting in a mammoth turn on the front of the peloton, with Bennati and Matti Breschel tucked on his wheel.
Tosatto continues to drive the pace while a phalanx of Sky riders push their way towards the front. The lime green jersey of Peter Sagan is keeping a vigilant eye on proceedings throughout.
BMC and Orica-GreenEdge hit the front once again with three kilometres to go, just before the road begins to drag upwards slightly.
No one team has been able to take hold of this finale, with a number of competing trains jostling for position.
Into the final kilometre, Andrey Kaschechkin (Astana) puts in a dig, but Cannondale take over at the front almost immediately.
The road kicks up with 500 metres to go and Simon Geschke takes oer on the front.
As the road flattens out with 200 metres to go, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) opens the sprint and rips clear of Sagan.
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) wins the stage ahead of Peter Sagan, Arnaud Démare and Matti Breschel.
Mathias Frank (BMC) will retain the overall lead.
That was a well-timed effort from Kristoff. He sat on Matti Breschel's wheel when the Dane went for it with 250 metres, and waited until the road flattened out before opening his sprint in earnest.
Sagan and Démare went a little earlier than Kristoff on the other side of the road, and they had no response when the Norwegian powered past.
1Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
2Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
3Arnaud Démare (Fra) FDJ
4Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo-Tinkoff
5Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
1 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha 4:08:29
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling
3 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
4 Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
5 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
6 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
7 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8 Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana Pro Team
9 Boy van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
10 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge
1 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team 15:56:30
2 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:23
3 Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) Movistar Team 0:00:35
4 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:57
5 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 0:01:08
6 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp 0:01:23
7 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team 0:01:26
8 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:28
9 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:01:39
10 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 0:01:42
Thanks for joining us for live coverage of the Tour of Switzerland today. We'll be back with more tomorrow, but in the meantime, stay with Cyclingnews for a full report, results and pictures from today's stage, as well as all the news from Switzerland.