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Tour de Suisse 2011: Stage 7


Grüezi from Suisse! Today's stage seven features three categorised climbs including the uphill finish in Serfaus. Will race leader Damiano Cunego attack to increase his lead before Sunday's time trial?

95km remaining from 222km

At the moment, Cunego's Lampre team has chosen not to chase behind a 17-men-breakaway, halfway up the first mountain of the day, the Flüelapass (Cat. HC). The group's most prominent rider is Andy Schleck (Leopard), who seems to want to redeem himself today after yesterday's rather poor showing.

The full list of riders in the break, now already 5 minutes ahead of the bunch, is: Andy Schleck (Leopard), Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank), Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma), George Hincapie (BMC), Christian Vandevelde (Garmin), Alberto Losada and Luca Paolini (Katusha), José Ivan Gutierrez, Angel Madrazo and Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Enrico Gasparotto (Astana), Javier Aramendia (Euskaltel), Dries Devenyns (Quick Step), Thomas De Gendt, Sergey Lagutin and Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil) and Andreas Dietziker (NetApp).

The race has been incredibly fast until now, with almost 90 kilometres raced in the first two hours - on constantly rising terrain!

33 kilometres after the start, a first break got away. They were: Linus Gerdemann and Andy Schleck (Leopard), Martin Velits (HTC), Danilo Hondo and Oleksandr Kvachuk (Lampre), Jeffry Louder (BMC), Ryder Hesjdal (Garmin), Pablo Lastras and Branislau Samoilau (Movistar), Damiano Caruso (Liquigas), Jorge Azanza and Ruben Perez (Euskaltel), Dries Devenyns (Quick Step), Cyril Dessel, Ben Gastauer and Lloyd Mondory (AG2R), Leopold König (Net App).

While their advantage quickly grew to more than 2:30 minutes, it also diminished rapidly again as Andy Schleck and Movistar's Samoilau were included in the group. Samoilau ranked 16th on GC this morning, 7:51 behind race leader Damiano Cunego (Lampre).

As the race started the first uphill kilometres towards the Flüelapass, the peloton came close again (30 seconds), and Samoilau decided to drop off the leaders to give them a chance of succeeding. But the bunch was too close, and as many riders tried to bridge up, the break was caught with 159 kilometres still remaining.

The race continued in a furious pace, with many attackers trying their luck but nobody succeeding, until, after about 80 kilometres raced, a group of 16 riders was able to get away. These 16 riders were: Manuele Boaro (Saxo Bank), Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma), George Hincapie (BMC), Christian Vandevelde (Garmin), Alberto Losada and Luca Paolini (Katusha), José Ivan Gutierrez, Angel Madrazo and Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Enrico Gasparotto (Astana), Javier Aramendia (Euskaltel), Dries Devenyns (Quick Step), Thomas De Gendt, Sergey Lagutin and Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil) and Andreas Dietziker (NetApp).

Andy Schleck (Leopard) then took advantage of the fading power of the bunch to bridge up and become the 17th member of the lead group.

The bunch finally sat up, and the break extended its advantage.

100km remaining from 222km

Until the break was established, the race rythm must have been brutal. No wonder the break is being given more leash: 6'22" now.

The next 14 kilometres of the HC climb are doing the rest... the steepest part is coming up now.

The bunch has just passed the feed zone in Frauenkirch ("chruch of women"), part if the town of Davos.

A few clicks back, Mirko Lorenzetto (Astana) abandoned the race.

The Flüelapass is the third-highest pass in the history of the Tour de Suisse. It is located 2383m above sea level. From Davos, it is 13 kilometres long and averages 6.4 percent.

The peloton is now 7:18 minutes behind the lead group. In the break, Jan Bakelants (Omega) is the best-placed rider on GC, 9:53 minutes back on Cunego. We should see some sort of pursuit soon.

Four kilometres to go until the summit. The leaders have eight minutes on the field led by Lampre.

Up to 20 KOM points will be handed out on top of the climb. Laurens Ten Dam of Rabobank, the current leader of the KOM classification, has 35 points.

Daniel Sesma (Euskaltel) has given up the race.

Andy Schleck (Leopard) was first atop the Flüelapass, taking 20 points.

1 Schleck (Leopard) 20 points
2 Vande Velde (Garmin) 15
3 Bakelants (Omega) 10
4 Paolini (Katusha) 6
5 Hincapie (BMC) 4

Schleck thus has 26 points in the mountains classification, taking him to third place in that ranking behind Ten Dam and Cunego.

The gap is now "down" to 7'45".

All riders are speeding down the descent now.

Fortunately for the riders, the weather today is dry and sunny, so the descending is not dangerous.

There are 80 kilometres yet to race. Schleck seems to be out on a mission...

In the bunch, Rabobank is controlling the rythm and holding the gap at 7'45".

Rabobank are continuing their pace-setting at the front of the peloton, and the gap is now down to 7:25.

Naturally, all eyes will be on Andy Schleck in this breakaway, but there are a number of other interesting names up the road.

George Hincapie (BMC) has been in the news on and off the bike in recent weeks, and he is clearly looking to test his form before the Tour de France.

70km remaining from 222km

Christian Vande Velde has had a quiet season to date, but along with Ryder Hesjedal, he will lead the Garmin-Cervelo charge at the Tour de France. The final two climbs should give him a decent gauge of his form against Andy Schleck.

RadioShack have now come to the front of the peloton to aid Rabobank in their chase. Damiano Cunego and Lampre-ISD are playing a clever game here. With the time trial coming up, the Italian feels under no obligation to control the race. He also let slip that he wants to put more time into Levi Leipheimer today. The 2004 Giro winner had suggested that his days as a Grand Tour rider were over in recent seasons, but he has been upbeat about his chances at the Tour.

RadioShack's efforts have brought the gap down to 6:45. Up front, Schleck and co. are still collaborating smoothly in the valley ahead of the 2nd category Norbertshoehe.

42km remaining from 222km

The break are now on the slopes of the Norbertshöhe, while Rabobank continue to chase behind.

With Kruijswijk and Mollema lurking in 2nd and 3rd place overall, Rabobank know that they have an opportunity to do something special today. 6:15 the gap to the break now.

A lot of the sprinters beginning to struggle at the back of the peloton now as the pace begins to rise. Thor Hushovd and Mark Cavendish are among the riders losing contact at the back.

40km remaining from 222km

Andy Schleck leads the break over the top of the climb, with a gap of just over 6 minutes to the yellow jersey group.

Meanwhile, Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step) have been jettisoned from the back of the dwindling peloton, but they don't seem too concerned.

De Gendt was second over the climb, ahead of Paolini, Lagutin and Devenyns The break fragmented slightly in the final heave to the summit, but they should come back together on the descent.

The 17 in front are all back together on the descent, with the Vacansoleil-DCM trio of De Gendt, Lagutin and Marcato looking to keep things organised.

32km remaining from 222km

Laurens Ten Dam is putting in a very honest stint for Rabobank at the head of the peloton, as he seeks to peg back the break's advantage. With over 30km to race and a 1st category climb to the finish, they might fancy their chances of closing the sub-6-minute gap, although there are some quality riders in that break.

Paolini and Marcato have slipped clear of the break on the descent, while Vande Velde, Hincapie and Gutierrez are trying to bridge across.

27km remaining from 222km

The break has fragmented but no definitive gaps have opened. The 17 might well all come back together before the final climb.

Just as the break comes back together, Thomas De Gendt jumps clear, and again Luca Paolini is the man trying to make it across.

Vacansoleil are clearly looking to get a man up the road before the final climb. In particular, they'll be looking to have somebody clear of Andy Schleck.

23km remaining from 222km

De Gendt has 15 seconds over the rest of the break. Crouched over the handlebars, he's turning himself inside out to try and stretch out this gap.

De Gendt is putting a fine ride here. He has 27 seconds on the chasers and the gap to the yellow jersey group is up to 6:18, although Rabobank are renewing their efforts behind.

17km remaining from 222km

There's a distinct lack of collaboration in the chase group and De Gendt is taking full advantage. He now has almost 40 seconds of an advantage. 6:41 is the gap back to the peloton.

Nobody in the chase group is keen to tow Schleck back up to De Gendt with the climb to come, especially with the Belgian's Vacansoleil teammates Lagutin and Marcato marshalling affairs.

13km remaining from 222km

De Gendt stretches his lead out to a minute and is showing no signs of tiring. Schleck et al are clearly keeping their powder dry for the final climb.

10km remaining from 222km

De Gendt starts the final climb of the Fisser-Hofe with a minute over the chasers. On the opening slopes, he still seems comfortable.

10km remaining from 222km

Paolini is chasing alone between the De Gendt and the remnants of the break. Meanwhile, Andy Schleck attacks at the foot of the climb, with Bakelants on his wheel.

Same old problem for Andy Schleck. While his initial acceleration was impressive, he hasn't succeeded in dropping anybody. The rest of the break is lined up on his rear wheel, while De Gendt and Paolini grind on ahead.

De Gendt's style is beginning to become a little more ragged but his gap is staying steady.

8km remaining from 222km

Schleck has finally managed to shake off the rest of the break now and he is alone in the pursuit of De Gendt. Paolini has been caught.

Bakelants and Vande Velde are trying to get back on terms with Schleck. The Luxembourger looks over his shoulder but he wants to press on alone.

Andy Schleck is nowhere near as fluid as he would hope to be in July, but he is gradually finding his rhythm on this climb. Vande Velde leads the chase behind him with Bakelants, but Schleck is pulling away.

Rabobank lead the yellow jersey group on the lower slopes of the climb, with Cunego looking comfortable on their wheels.

Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo) attacks out of the yellow jersey group and Wout Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM) comes across.

7km remaining from 222km

Up front, Schleck has pegged De Gendt's lead back to 45 seconds. They have 4km to the summit of the climb.

Cunego puts in a brief dig, but Kruijswijk and Leipheimer are still present and correct towards the head of the yellow jersey group.

Damiano Caruso (Liquigas-Cannondale) attacks from the yellow jersey group and opens a small gap.

6km remaining from 222km

De Gendt is doing a fine job of holding off Andy Schleck. The Leopard Trek rider is not looking comfortable at all here, and he doesn't seem to be making huge inroads into De Gendt's lead. It's still 40 seconds.

5km remaining from 222km

No major attacks from the yellow jersey group to date.

Mathias Frank attacks and brings Danielson and Kruijswijk with him. No response from Cunego, who sits on Mollema's wheel. Maxime Monfort leads the chase in support of Frank Schleck.

3km remaining from 222km

De Gendt comes over the top of the climb, and he has 37 seconds to play with on the final 3.5km to the line. Andy Schleck will have his work cut out to close this gap.

The road flattens out in the finale, and De Gendt will fancy his chances of holding off Schleck.

Kruijswijk, Frank and Danielson are working well together, but they only have 10 seconds of an advantage over the Cunego group, which is being led by Monfort.

Kruisjwijk and co. are picking off the remnants of the 17-man break that started the climb with a lead of 6 minutes. The pace in the yellow jersey group has rocketed upwards in these last kilometres.

2km remaining from 222km

Schleck has pulled back another few seconds on De Gendt, but it seems to be too little, too late.

1km remaining from 222km

Levi Leipheimer puts in a huge turn at the front of the yellow jersey group and makes mincemeat of the gap to Kruiswijk.

De Gendt powers through the last kilometre and he crosses the line with plenty of time to savour his win.

30 seconds later, Andy Schleck comes across the line. He's clearly still not at his best, but he did make up some ground towards the top of the climb.

Lagutin beats Bakelants for 3rd at 1:33.

Chris Froom (Sky) attacks near the top of the climb from the yellow jersey group, and Cunego responds.

Frank Schleck is the next to go, but first Danielson and then Cunego cover the move.

The remnants of the 17-man break continue to trickle over the line, but the real race is back in the yellow jersey group.

Jakob Fuglsang attacks from the yellow jersey group, but he left his effort until after they had finished climbing.

Fuglsang comes in 4:46 down, just ahead of the yellow jersey group.

Cunego wins the sprint at the head of the yellow jersey group.

Cunego didn't succeed in gaining any time on Leipheimer ahead of the time trial, but he did well to keep Kruijswijk and Mollema under control.


1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil - DCM Procycling Team 05:38:42
2 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Leopard-Trek 00:00:35
3 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Gil Movistar Team 00:00:48
4 Christian Vandevelde (USA) Team Garmin - Cervelo 00:00:51
5 Alberto Losada (Spa) Katusha Team 00:00:54
6 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil - Dcm Procycling Team 00:01:33
7 Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma - Lotto 00:01:34
8 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil - DCM Procycling Team 00:02:30
9 George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team 00:02:30
10 Manuele Boaro (Ita) Saxo Bank Sungard 00:02:30

General classification:

1 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-ISD
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank 00:01:23
3 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank 00:01:36
4 Frank Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 00:01:41
5 Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack 00:01:59
6 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek 00:02:38
7 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team 00:03:10
8 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank
9 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha 00:03:11
10 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad 00:03:22

Thank you for joining us for today's live coverage of the Tour de Suisse. Stayed tuned to Cyclingnews for the full race report, results, pictures and all the news from Switzerland.

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