Three is McEwen's lucky number

After being shut out of stage wins at the Giro d'Italia, Australian Robbie McEwen at last scored a sprint victory in the third stage of the Tour de Suisse. His only other win this season came in the Tour of Romandie, where he also took the third stage sprint win. The Silence-Lotto rider beat Spaniard Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Team High Road's Gerald Ciolek on a rainy day in the Swiss race. Igor Anton (Euskaltel) retained the leader's jersey.

McEwen credited his team-mates for the victory. "What Leif Hoste and Greg Van Avermaet did today in the last kilometer was sublime," he said. "It was a very hard day because of the rain and the team had to work really hard." When the peloton hit the one kilometer marker, Hoste went to the front, and then with 500 meters to go, the younger and faster Van Avermaet took over. Finally, it was the turn of the speedy Australian, who showed his classic unbeatable burst of power from 250 meters to go, and none of his rivals were unable to catch up with him.

The race was dominated by a 140 km escape by three men: Herve Duclos-Lassalle (Cofidis), René Weissinger (Volksbank) and Jeff Louder (BMC) built up a lead of seven and a half minutes, but were ultimately caught by the peloton with 10 km to go. The escape was worth it for Weissiner, who won both intermediate sprints on the day, thus taking over the white sprinter's jersey.

How it unfolded

157 riders took to the start in Flums, with Astana's Sergey Yakovlev having decided to leave the race. The weather was not promising, going from heavy clouds to pouring rain off and on during the day. Shortly after the neutral start, Herve Duclos-Lassalle (Cofidis) und René Weissinger (Volksbank) broke away from the peloton. They slowly built up a lead, and 10 km later Jeff Louder of Team BMC bridged across. The trio worked well together, despite the heavy rain.

There were two ranked climbs along the way, and Duclos-Lassalle took the points ahead of Weissinger and Louder. Weissinger won both intermediate sprints, taking over the sprinter's jersey from Lampre's Swiss rider, David Loosli.

The trio built up a maximum lead of 7'30", which started falling again halfway through the stage. With 25 km to go, the lead was down to about a minute as the peloton flew along in chase of them. The trio fought to stay ahead, but with 10 km to go, their escape was over. A category four climb some 5 km before the finish line wasn't difficult enough to drop the sprinters.

On the climb, David Loosli (Lampre) took the points ahead of Giovanni Visconti and Gert Steegmans, both of Quick Step, and then number of riders tried to break clear, but none was able to get away. With 3 km to go, the sprinters' teams had things under control and were moving fast enough to drop riders off the back. Milram led the way under the the one kilometre marker, but it was Silence-Lotto's Robbie McEwen who broke first and held on for the win, ahead of Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Gerald Ciolek (High Road).

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