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Tour de Suisse 2012: Stage 5


The fifth stage of the Tour de Suisse includes six smaller climbs -- but we still expect Peter Sagan to win again!

Welcome back to the Tour de Sagan! Oops, make that the Tour de Suisse! Want to bet on whether Peter Sagan will take today's stage as well?

105km remaining from 192km

We have a seven-man break today: Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha), Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale), Salvatore Puccio (Sky), Klaas Lodewyck (BMC), Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Sebastien Minard (AG2R) and Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank). With 145 km to go, they have a gap of just over nine minutes.

But the big news of the day, of course, is that it seems Andy Schleck is out of the Tour de France. That crash in the Dauphine time trial has apparently broken broken something in his lower back or pelvis.  This sure changes things for July, doesn't it?

RadioShack is holding a press conference on the Schleck matter in a little over an hour.  We will, of course, bring you all the news as it happens.

Today's stage is one of those interesting ones that is probably more difficult than it looks. We expect a sprint finish today, but along the way there are six category three climbs to conquer, with the last one coming some 16km before the finish.

We were originally told that only 150 riders were at the start today, with two riders deciding to abandon overnight. One was Heinrich Haussler of Garmin-Barracuda. The other is said to be his teammate Thomas Dekker, but that has not been confirmed, and in fact, it is not confirmed if there are 150 or 151 riders today.

It was raining again this morning at the start and it may well rain the whole day. Ugh.

The best-placed rider in the break group is Puccio, who is over 13 minutes down.

85km remaining from 192km

This gap is growing! With 85km to go, it is now up to 9:41. Will we crack the ten-minute barrier?

A crash only 21 km into the stage took out Ivan Velasco of Euskaltel. He has gone to hospital with a suspected fractured collarbone.

80km remaining from 192km

The lead riders have now finished the first part of the stage and are heading off on the first of two laps of a 40km circuit course.

Matt Wilson of Orica-GreenEdge has also abandoned, but we don't know why.

Liquigas' Sagan has won three of the four stages so far, so of course he is leading the race, right? Ha, caught you there!  He is in fact 67th, 12:29 down. Our leader is naturally Rui Costa of Movistar, who took the lead by winning the stage two mountaintop finish on the Verbier.

1     Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team     15:43:52      
2     Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan     0:00:08      
3     Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team Astana     0:00:15      
4     Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat     0:00:19      
5     Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale     0:00:21      
6     Thomas Löfkvist (Swe) Sky Procycling            
7     Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team     0:00:23      
8     John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale     0:00:24      
9     Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi     0:00:26      
10     Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Barracuda     0:00:29     

78km remaining from 192km

We did it! Or rather, our seven escapees did it! With 78km to go, the gap is now 10:2!

Fränk Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) and Ryan Anderson (Spidertech) came into the stage tied for the mountain ranking.

1     Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan     20      pts
2     Ryan Anderson (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10     20      
3     Brian Vandborg (Den) Spidertech Powered By C10     17      
4     Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo Bank     17      
5     Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Barracuda     15      

72km remaining from 192km

The peloton has finally awoken from its mid-day nap and realized it has to take action. So this means the gap has fallen all the way to 9:20.

This race also has rankings for the best Swiss rider.

1     Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team     15:45:29      
2     Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Team Type 1 - Sanofi     0:00:08      
3     Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team     0:04:10      
4     Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team     0:04:44      
5     Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan     0:07:50      
6     Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale     0:08:16      
7     Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan     0:22:36      
8     Raymond Kunzli (Swi) Spidertech Powered By C10     0:23:55

And let us not forget the team rankings.

1     Astana Pro Team     47:13:49      
2     RadioShack-Nissan            
3     Movistar Team     0:00:32      
4     Rabobank Cycling Team     0:01:25      
5     Omega Pharma-QuickStep     0:01:38     

Just not a lot to report here, let's see what is happening other than Tour de Suisse and Andy Schleck.

Great Britain has announced its track, MTB and BMX squads for the Olympics, and its long list for the road events.

59km remaining from 192km

Ah, we can finally see what is going on. And what we see is rain and Movistar at the front of the field.

59km to go, and 9:49 to make up. Nope. We don't think so.

Besides, who has the incentive to chase? Costa's lead is not endangered, And why should any other team work to pull the break back only to have Sagan win again?

It is nearly up to 10 minutes again, 9:56 at 57km.

It's wet. And gray. Summer doesn't seem to want to really arrive this year.

And the gap is now at 10:13 with 55km to go.

Ha! The break has enough of a gap that they have ridden into sunshine!

47km remaining from 192km

The irony of course is that the other teams don't want to help Sagan win, so who is the best sprinter in the break group?

Oss, of Liquigas.

Movistar is nevertheless doing its thing at the head of the peloton. After all, they must still defend Costa's lead. Perhaps Fränk Schleck plans to attack and make up those handful of seconds he is down.

Speaking of Fränk Schleck, what do you suppose is going through his head right now? His brother's injury has to be a real blow to him.

The lead group hits the finish line for the first time. Oss leads the way. Another 40km to go for them, more than that for the field.

The RadioShack press conference is on, and it is confirmed that Andy Schleck will not be riding the Tour de France. We will have a link to our news story in a few minutes.

Minard was in the best position for KOM amongst the group. He came into the stage with six points, but has only managed to pick up another five. If he had done more, he could easily have had the KOM jersey this evening.

As it stands, he and Isaychev now both have 11 points. If either of them can get the maximum 10 remaining points, that lucky rider will be the new KOM today.

Thanks to Tomas Nilsson!

Yesterday was MInard's 30th birthday, by the way.

And the escape group is riding in rain again.

The field is now at the finish line for the last lap. The gap is now 9:32.

Andy Schleck has confirmed that he has broken his sacrum bone and will miss the Tour de France.

34km to go and the gap has dropped all the way to 9:10. We are going to go out on a limb and say the peloton won't catch the group.

It is raining again. Gosh, we haven't seen any rain drops in how long now? Five minutes?

You think Brad Wiggins is good? He may not even be at the top of his form yet, says Brian Holm. And isn't that a scary thought?

Pinot of FdJ just punctured. That was not really good, as he is currently fourth overall and wants very much to hang on to his placing.

The gap is jumping from 9:30 to 10:00.

There are 28 km to go. It seems likely that there will be attacks out of the group, as they will not have all done all this work simply to deliver Oss to the line.

The peloton looks to have picked up its speed. Perhaps they are only tired of being out in this wet weather and eager to get to the nice dry team bus.

Lodewyck of BMC has attacked out of the lead group with 23km to go.

The other six are letting him go under the assumption that he won't get far.

Ludewyck is doing quite well, but really has only 100 metres or so lead.

The gap is plummeting! All the way down to 8:25 with only 19km to go.

Isaychev counter-attacked, and caught and passed Lodewyck. The Katusha rider is now going for the last mountain points in hopes of getting the KOM jersey.

He does in fact take the points. The Euskaltel rider is the next to attack. Lodewyck has now dropped out of the group.

Isaychev will indeed pull on the KOM jersey this evening. He has those 21 points, which puts him in the lead.

And to celebrate, he has taken off again. But the others come with him, and all six are together again. For the moment at any rate.

Perez takes off again, as he knows he doesn't stand a chance in a sprint. He has a minimal lead.

The good news is that it doesn't seem to be raining on the break group.

10 km to go, and a gap of 8:53. Perez still has his minimal lead over the escape group.

Perez has been caught.

Kroon is the next to go, followed by Minard. And the rest of them as well. But he tries again.

Everyone pretty much together again. Kroon going again? Yes.

Perez and Isaychev give chase.

7km to go. They catch Kroon and the other three are not so terribly far behind, but far enough that they need to pay attention.

Oss leads Minard and Puccio up to the other three.

Five km to go and we can only await the next attack. And the sun is shining!

The group isn't working together at this point. They are all watching one another....

Or possibly they will all bluff all the way to the finish line.

Kroon takes a tiny lead, but doesn't really go. Isaychev is keeping a close eye on him.

Minard takes off, rather sneakily. Isaycheve leads the chase.

Four km to go. Still the cat-and-mouse games.

Isaychev is staying at the head of things, trying to control it all.

Puccio keeps looking over his shoulders, trying to keep everyone in view. Minard gives it another try, and then finally takes off seriously.

Perez gives chase, as Minard has picked up a large gap with 2km to go.

But Oss has attached himself to Perez, and they catch Minard. At least they have dropped the other three.

The three leaders pass under the 1km marker. Perez and Minard would have been much happier without Oss.

And look, here come the other three!

Oss leads the way... not the best place for the sprinter.

Isaychev breaks and goes for the win! He celebrates nearly too early, as Perez comes in for a close second.

Ludewyck now makes it to the finish line.

Oss, by the way, finished fifth. He must have used up too much energy along the way. So the best sprinter didn't win the sprint after all.

Puccio was third, Kroon fourth and Minard fifth, in the same time as the winner. Oss came in 5 seconds later, and Lodewyck at 1:50.

Back in the peloton, Costa takes off his rain jacket. We might still see some excitement out of this group as well.

An ambulance makes its way by the peloton. We hope that is not a bad sign.

A couple of Katusha riders chat in the field, no doubt happy for their winning teammate. 3km to go for them.

Movistar is still at the head of the field.

This is Isaychev's first pro win.  Congratulations!

"I can't sprint, so I had to do something!" he told the Swiss tv, in Spanish.

Three riders have jumped from the field, with 1km to go.

But that comes to nothing.

A sprint for the finish! and who else but a Liquigas rider! But this time it was Elio Viviani.

A big smile from Isaychev as he accepts the kisses from the podium girls.

And the final gap turns out to have been 11:07.

The top ten for the stage:

1 Vladimir Isaichev (Rus) Katusha Team 4:58:28
2 Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:00
3 Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Sky Procycling 0:00:00
4 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:00
5 Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:00
6 Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:05
7 Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:01:50
8 Elia Viviani (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:11:07
9 Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:11:07
10 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1 - Sanofi 0:11:07

And the GC:

1 Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team 20:53:27
2 Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:08
3 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team Astana 0:00:15
4 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:00:19
5 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:21
6 Thomas Löfkvist (Swe) Sky Procycling 0:00:21
7 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:23
8 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:24
9 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:26
10 Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Barracuda 0:00:29

That's it for today. Join us again tomorrow as the excitement continues in the Tour de Suisse.

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