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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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Classic Colnago steel frame with gorgeous pantographed Campagnolo components
Welcome to the Queen Stage of this year's Tour de Suisse! It is the longest stage of this year's race and offers the riders four ranked climbs, including an HC climb only 10km from the finish.
We are about halfway through the stage and although it took a while, we have a large group with a nice gap.
With 120km to go, the gap is 4:09 for Jose Joaquin Rojas (MOV), Eduard Vorganov (KAT), Andreas Klöden (RLT), Niki Terpstra (OPQ),
Manuele Mori (LAM), Damiano Caruso (CAN), Luis Leon Sanchez (BLA), Michael Morkov (TST), Daryl Impey (OGE), Adria Saez (EUS), Tomasz Marczynski (VCD), Johannes Fröhlinger (ARG), Georg Preidler (ARG) and Jean-Marc Marino (SOJ).
Many riders tried to get away early in the race, but no one was successful. The best effort came from 12 riders who got away directly after the day's first climb, but they too were caught again within 20 km. Our current group got away almost immediately thereafter.
Today's stage is 206 kilometers, and features the highest point of this year's race, the Albulapass, at 2312 meters.
Luis Leon Sanchez is the top-ranked rider in the group, only 6:29 down in 29th place.
Today's climbs are:
km 052,8 | Kat. 3: Kerenzerberg (5,5 km, 5,5%)
km 129,0 | Kat. 1: Wolfgangpass (18,6 km, 4,4%)
km 159,5 | Kat. 4: Davos Wiesen (0,7 km, 6,7%)
km 196,7 | Kat. HC: Albulapass (25,8 km , 5,3%)
The first climb, the cat 3 Kerenzerberg, was climbed just before the group got away. The points went to Kolobnev ahead of Impey, Zaugg and Riblon.
As Simon Geschke of Argos-Shiman tweeted earlier, “Lots of altitude meters to climb today in Switzerland. Trying to find the climber in me at the moment. He's there...somewhere...sometimes”
Exactly 100km to go, and the gap is holding steady at around the 4:45 mark.
They have now started on the long ascent which ends up atop the cat. 1 Wolfgangpass.
Best wishes go out to Heinrich Haussler (IAM), who suffered fractures to his pelvis and hip in a crash yesterday.
Now the gap has jumped the five minute mark, and is at 5:11.
As always, a look back at who is where in which special ranking. First up, Swiss rider Mathias Frank (BMC) proud to be leading his homeland race.
1 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team 20:31:06
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
Cannondale's Peter Sagan wears the green jersey for leader in the points ranking.
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling 55 pts
2 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ 50
3 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha 41
4 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 30
5 Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack Leopard 27
Separate from that is the sprint ranking.
1 Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar Team 13 pts
2 Robert Vrecer (Slo) Euskaltel-Euskadi 9
3 Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack Leopard 7
4 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha 7
5 Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack Leopard 7
Five riders have abandoned so far today: Renshaw (Blanco), Vaugrenard (FDJ) , Kamyshev (AST), Feillu (VCD) and Ulissi (LAM).
You can tell the serious climbing has started. With 10 km still to go up the Wolfgang Pass, the gap has dropped to 3:40.
Robert Vrecer of Euskaltel came into the stage in the King of the Mountains jersey – but he may lose it today.
1 Robert Vrecer (Slo) Euskaltel-Euskadi 19 pts
2 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 12
3 Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 12
4 Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack Leopard 12
5 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha 10
This climb is proving to be too much for Tepstra, and he is the first to drop back.
And, last but not least, the best team:
1 Katusha 61:38:30
2 Astana Pro Team 0:00:28
3 Movistar Team 0:00:58
4 Ag2R La Mondiale 0:01:00
5 BMC Racing Team 0:02:12
Reports from the race are very slow in coming through.....
The group has hit the Wolfgangpass mountain ranking, and in this orde: Mori, Preidler, Impey, Sanchez and Morkov.
The peloton crossed the mountaintop only 2:45 behind the lead group. Terpstra has caught up with the break again.
The riders now face a rather gently 20km descent before they hit the cat 4 Davos Wiesen.
There is also a race going in Slovenia, and Canadian Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge) won the opening time trial. “Everything went right. I had good sensations from the start. I knew I was on a good ride,” he said.
The gap is now 2.20. The peloton is catching up....
There is tons of racing going on at the moment. The Ster ZLM Toer stage has just ended. Was it a mass sprint, or did an escape group make it to the end, after six ranked climbs? You can find the answer here.
Terpstra has again dropped from the lead group, this time along with Saez.
Mori again took the points at the cat 4 climb, giving him 13 on the day. Behind him were Peidler and Fröhlinger. Saez has now caught the group again.
35 km to go now, and most of them go up. Way up!
A gap of only 1:42 as the leaders start up the 25.8km climb up the HC-ranked Albulapass.
Saxo-Tinkoff leading the chase, with BMC right behind them.
Looks like Saxo-Tinkoff fancies Kreuziger's chances today, at least of taking the yellow jersey.
Up ahead, Sanchez and Saez attack out of the lead group.
Saez has dropped back and in fact the group is falling apart. Sanchez still with a slight lead.
The riders in the peloton are finding it hard going as well,
Tom Boonen is now leadng a rather large grupetto.
Preidler moves up to Sanchez. And Dombrowski (Sky) jumps from the chase group.
Saxo-Tinkoff continues to pull the field along.
Andy Schleck is still in the main chase group.
There are three other riders with Dombrowski, one of whom is Klöden.
Sky's Josh Edmonson has now jumped from the field and is on his way to join teammate Dombrowski.
Morkov starts going backwards out of the peloton. He has put in a long day.
Preidler has pulled away from Sanchez, who is now waiting for Dombrowski. The two then pull up to Preidler.
That was it for Sanchez. He is gone. Someone else is tryig to move up -- it is Johan Tschoop.
And now Dombrowski drops Preidler and carries n alone.
Two Lampre riders move out of the peloton, one is Scarponi.
Edmonson is apparently back in the field.
Dombrowski keeps plugging away. The young American is in his first pro year.
Now two Blando riders try to pull away. Scarponi's helper has dropped back to the field. Mathias Frank has lost a helper, as Marcus Burghardt has done his duty and drops back.
Tschoop and Preidler are together in the chase.
Only 45 seconds between Dombrowski and the chasing field, with Tschoop and Preiderl in between.
The chasing field -- with maybe 25 riders -- now has Scarponi in its sights.
Still 6 km to go for Dombowski to the top. And then another 10 km down.
He has 35 seconds on the chasers, with Scarponi somewhere in between.
Schleck near the front of the group, and looking quite comfortable.
Scarponi is 23 seconds down, which puts him 12 seconds ahead of the chase group.
Frank still has one helper with him. Roche is still there for Kreuziger.
Pinot is on his rear wheel. That springs the group. Frank is in trouble.
Mollema and his followers have caught Mollema. Thy are only 34 seconds behind Dombrowski.
Dombrowski starts looking back nervously, as we now see a snowdrift next to the road.
Da Costa, Mollema, Pinot and Van Garderen are the chasers.
Cameron Meyer and Mathias Frank are chasing together.
The four chasers wil have Dombrowski in a few minutes.
Two km to the top.
They have caught the Sky rider, and Dan Martin and Mollema have caught them all.
AT the 10 km marker, Pinot tries to jump.
Costa is the next to give it a try, as this small group falls apart again. Looks like Dombrowski and Martin have dropped back.
The have hit the top, looks like Pinot gets the points.
19n seconds later Frank and Kreuziger cross the line.
We still have four riders in the lead: Costa, Van Garderen, Pinot and Mollema. The rest of the rides are scattered along the road.
Pinot did indeed get the 20 points for the mountain ranking.
The four race down the descent.
PInot is fallng back slightly on the descent. It is now 24 seconds back to Frank.
The chasers are tearing down these hairpin curves. Frank is descending quite well an dmake up time, as the gap is now only 19 seconds.
Martin and Dombrowski are somewhere there in between.
Costa and Van GArderen have a slight lead. Mollema struggle to catch up.
One of the mileages markers has fallen on to the road, right in front of hte leaders! They re not injured, and bystanders are holding it up, but what a thing to happen!
They pass under another inflated arch, and probably look at it nervously.
Last km for Van Garderen, Mollema and Costa.
Rui Costa opens the sprint, Van Garderen gives it a good try, but Spaniard wins!
Cam Meyer leads the Frank group over the line 23 seconds later. Frank should keep his jersey.
Frank goes over and congratulates Rui Costa on his stage win.
The restt of the field is coming over the finish line in little groups. We suspect that wil contiue for a long time.
Top ten on the stage:
1 Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) Movistar Team 5:11:08
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 0:00:00
3 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:00
4 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:09
5 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 0:00:22
6 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:22
7 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:22
8 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha 0:00:22
9 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:00:22
10 Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Sky Procycling 0:00:22
General classification after stage 7
1 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team 25:42:36
2 Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) Movistar Team 0:00:13
3 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:23
4 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:44
5 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 0:00:46
6 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:01:17
7 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp 0:01:23
8 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 0:01:42
9 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team 0:01:43
10 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha 0:01:50
That's it for today! Thanks for reading along and be sure to join us again tomorrow for stage eight!