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Tour de Suisse 2012: Stage 6

Welcome to our live coverage of the conclusion of stage six from the 2012 Tour de Suisse. Today's stage is almost 200km long from Wittnau to Bischofszell and features five categorised climbs, none of which appear to be overly strenuous. Is the race set up for another sprint finish? And can Rui Costa (Movistar) hold on to the overall lead once again?

As we await live pictures from the host broadcaster, let's take a look at yesterday's top ten finishers from stage 5. For a full report on how the action unfolded, click here:

 

TOP TEN FINISHERS - STAGE FIVE:

 

1 Vladimir Isaichev (Rus) Katusha Team 4:58:28
2 Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
3 Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Sky Procycling
4 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo Bank
5 Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
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
10 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1 - Sanofi

And here's how things stood in the overall general classification after stage 5:

 

OVERALL GC AFTER STAGE 5

 

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
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

70km remaining from 198km

With 70 km left to go, there is a group of four who have broken away from the peloton. They are: Baden Cooke (Orica-GreenEdge), Vicente Reynes (Lotto Belisol), Matteo Montaguti (AG2R-LaMondiale) and Rubens Bertogliatti (Team Type 1 - Sanofi). They have a lead of 3:33 at the moment.

Of course the big story in the world of cycling over the last 24 hours has been USADA charging seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong with doping offences. If you've been on Mars or in an isolation tank since yesterday then we have the full story, including Armstrong's reaction, right here.

CORRECTION: The fourth man in the break is Troels Vinther (Saxo Bank), not Bertogliati...

Live pictures just about to start. There's always a delay so an update coming up here...

Not too much change. Same four are clear. 55km to go and the gap is 3:14.

Hate to say it, but this course looks like it was made for Peter Sagan. He must be the favourite to win again. It would be his fourth win of the race if he can pull it off...

Montaguti is the best placed of the breakaway riders in the overall GC. Cooke has already been in form this week, finishing second to Sagan in stage 3 on Monday.

53km remaining from 198km

Riders are now on the third categorised climb of the day. Two more to come after this one.

Fabian Cancellara has had a puncture and fallen off the back of the peloton. To be fair though, most of his focus will be on tomorrow's time trial.

45km remaining from 198km

Descending fast now. Just 45km left. Next climb isn't for another 20km. Gap remaining steady though.

CHRIS HOY VIDEO: We were at a press conference in Manchester yesterday where the Great Britain Olympic team was announced. See what four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy had to say about it all here.

Lampre-ISD are doing the majority of the work at the head of the peloton. With the likely sprint finish their main main will be Petacchi. But at the age of 38 has he still got the legs? He's had a disappointing season so far.

Movistar and Liquigas are taking things relatively easy at this point. And Sky have done even less work, which is unusual for them if you've been following them over the last couple of months.

37km remaining from 198km

Less than 40km to go now. And the gap is back over the four-minute mark.

30km remaining from 198km

Gap coming down again now. Well under four minutes. I can't see these four staying clear of the pack.

Regarding the Armstrong news, he's not the only one who's potentially in hot water. RadioShack-Nissan team manager Johan Bruyneel could be facing a lifetime ban. Read all about it here. It's not hard to imagine the Schlecks sending out party invitations and popping champagne corks as we speak...

So I've said that these four will be swallowed up. If we're set for a sprint finish, who are the possible contenders? Well there's a few in this field (deep breath): Boonen, Rojas, Freire, Swift, Van Avermaet. But one word seems to be on everyone's lips: Sagan.

26km remaining from 198km

Gap is down to less than three minutes now...

Montaguti takes the points at the penultimate climb ahead of Reynes, Cooke and Vinther. Only one more climb to go now.

22km remaining from 198km

Pace really increasing on the descent now. Peloton turning the screw. Gap down to 2:03.

17km remaining from 198km

Lost pictures there for a minute or two. Gap is now down to 1:47.

Vinther really pushing it here. Communiaction looks to be good among the leading four. But with all the firepower in the chasing pack they are surely not far enough ahead.

QuickStep and Liquigas are now taking their turn at the front of the peloton. Sun is beaming down on the riders. Glorious afternoon. Gap now suddenly down to just 1:17.

Over at Ster ZLM Toer, Marcel Kittel has taken the notable scalps of Mark Renshaw (2nd) and Mark Cavendish (3rd). More to follow...

Gap here is now under a minute. Team cars pull over...

Sky now at the front of the chasing peloton. Not a sight we've seen too much of today.

10km remaining from 198km

Dont' rule out Tyler Farrar. His Garmin teammates have got him nicely tucked away here.

Riders are now on to the last climb of the day. Only 9km from the finish. Peloton can now see the leaders up the road.

Race leader Costa is close to the front of the chasing group. Only five or six riders in front of him.

Leaders looking anxious as they climb for the last time. Gap is down to 20 seconds.

5km remaining from 198km

Slight lull here. Pack are taking a breather and just formulating their tactics. They know that they are going to catch the leaders but aren't in a huge rush.

Cooke and Reynes have been caught. Montaguti and Vinther hanging on at the front, but for how long?

Katusha and Sky at the front, paving the way for Freire and Swift respectively...

3km to go. Leading duo clinging on but about to be caught

Leaders have been caught. Frank Schleck is in second. Petachhi also right there. Approaching the 1km mark...

Dicey bend there...

Sagan has cruised into a great position...

SAGAN WINS

Sagan beats Swift. Coming round the last corner he almost got his line wrong and ended up in the barriers. But he showed remarkable coolness to swicth back and get to the line.

1 Sagan 2 Swift 3 Albasini

Swift and Albasini had no answer

CORRECTION: Davis 3rd, Albasini 4th

It was Albasini who almost forced Sagan into the barriers on that last corner. He was perfectly within his rights though. Amazing that Sagan could recover the power so quickly after being impeded.

TOP TEN FINISHERS - STAGE SIX

 

1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 4:30:08
2 Ben Swift (GBr) Sky Procycling
3 Allan Davis (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
4 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
5 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Katusha Team
6 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
7 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
8 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1 - Sanofi
9 Matti Breschel (Den) Rabobank Cycling Team
10 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Pro Team Astana

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 6

 

1 Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team 25:23:38
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

That's it from stage six. Another sprinting masterclass from Sagan, despite the potential calamity on the final bend. Nothing seems to faze him at the moment and that's four stages in the bag overall at this race. In this form, he must fancy his chances of taking green at the Tour de France.

 

We'll have a full resport, full results, photos and reaction here as we get it.

 

The top of the general classification is largely unchanged and Costa will take yellow into tomorrow's 34km time trial in Gossau. Join us then for more live coverage as all the drama unfolds.

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