Stage 6 of the Tour de Suisse runs 188 km and gives us two climbs along the way.
Welcome back to the Tour de Suisse! Two climbs along the way today, and another mass sprint expected.
135km remaining from 186km
Some 50 km into the stage, Mathew Hayman (Sky), Alexander Kolobnev (Katusha), Gregory Rast (RadioShack-Leopard) and Bert Grabsch (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) have a huge gap of 7:45.
Let's make that 125 km to go and 8:56!
That is the biggest gap we have had so far in the race this year. But despite that, none of the se ridera are a threat to the lead. Rast is the highest ranked, and is more than 23 minutes down -- which is probably why they are allowed to go.
It's an odd course today, more rolling and bumpy than anything else. There are two ranked climbs, both category 3, one at km. 110 and one at km. 163. Then there is one more significant bump before finally flattening out for the first time all day for an expected mass sprint finish.
Just a reminder of our top ten in GC:
Peter Sagan is leading the points ranking and after finishing second yesterday, we suspect he will be looking to win today and increase his lead.
Sorry about that, it looks like we are having some format problems here....
115km remaining from 186km
The gap is now over 10 minutes, to be more exact, it is 10:45
In the mountains ranking, Robert Vrecer of Euskaltel leads with 19 points, ahead of Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Serbe Pauwels (OPQS), with 12 points each. We sincerely doubt that that will change today.
We aren't even halfway through the stage, but with an 11-minute gap and 110 km to go, it could very well be that this group comes through to the end. The peloton seems to be taking the day off....
Here is a surprise: Heinrich Haussler has abandoned the race. He was in a crash earlier in the stage, it turns out.
With 100km to go, the gap is a whopping 12:07 minutes.
In other news, the UCI Management Council is meeting today in Norway, and Cyclingnews has learned that US Board member Mike Plant will present Pat McQuaid with a dossier concerning the UCI and Lance Armstrong. And McQuaid may even face a vote of no confidence.
Robert Gesink (Blanco) is sick and tired of hearing that he can't win the big ones. He fired back at his critics today.
Turning things over to Dan, maybe he can inspire the peloton to action!
Thanks Susan. This is by far the biggest gap we've seen so far in this year's race. It's interesting because after two sprint stages in a row it might be a chance for the break to succeed.
Peter Sagan has been beaten twice in a row, so it could be that Cannondale are looking for other teams to start up the chase.
There are four very strong riders up the road though, so the stage is still in the balance.
Mirko Selvaggi has pulled out of the race but the gap to the break has gone out to 13:45.
Rast is the best placed rider on GC, 25:32 down on Frank so BMC will be happy to see this move stay clear for the day, unless Gilbert fancies his chances for the finish.
The break are now on the first climb of the day. It's just a third category bump in the road, so it shouldn't be too much trouble at all for these four riders.
It's a big day for the men in the break. None are prolific winners these days. Paris-Bourges 2011 was the last time one of them won.. it was Hayman.
The Australian really burst onto the scene in his first year with Rabobank, doing well in a number of early season Spanish races. He then became one of the most respected and trusted domestiques in the peloton.
Grabsch, once the world time trial champion, has never been able to reproduce that form but he's an important part of the Omega team. He'll be riding for Tour de France spot and will be integral in the team's plans for Mark Cavendish come July.
Rast, once of Phonak (great kit) hasn't won a race since the prologue of the Tour of Luxembourg in 2009. He, like Hayman, is a solid domestique and has been with the Astana and thenRadioShack set up for a number of years.
Kolobnev, his last win was the national champs in 2010.
75km remaining from 186km
75km to go and the gap is down slightly to 13:55.
Since the last climb, the four-man break have pushed their lead out to 14'14. With 60km to go it's looking very much like the break will survive.
BMC are leading the peloton but it's all about containment at the moment. They're willing to leave the stage honours to the break and simply keep Frank out of trouble, saving him for the coming days in the mountains.
There's not been any real reaction from the sprinters' teams though, that's been the only surprising element of the stage so far. With the lead still over 14 minutes, they've lost any chance of taking the stage. There are just 55km to go.
Kolobnev is probably the fastest rider here, he's got more punch. Hayman as he showed in the spring, isn't bad in a sprint from a small group but it's going to be tactical with the final 8km all flat to the finish.
The four leaders are still sharing the workload evenly with Grabsch currently sitting on the front, with Hayman on his wheel.
44km remaining from 186km
44km to go, so around an hour of racing. The gap still over 14 minutes.
It's a fairly relaxing pace in the bunch, Frank even having time to chat with the television camera crews.
The Katusha car moves up and Kolobnev takes the chance to pick up some instructions and some food.
The Katusha rider is certainly the most explosive rider in the break, based off previous form, but there's a good chance we wont see a four man sprint and a few attacks in the closing stages.
The bunch just on a climb before the descent into Zurich. A few riders are struggling at the back of the peloton including Tom Peterson. It looks like he crashed earlier in the stage.
The leaders are now closing on the final climb of the day, it's a third category climb. Will one of the break try a move? It's a long way from the line...
And Hayman leads the break onto the climb. There are some tricky sections of around 15 per cent but the gradient is between five and six.
27km remaining from 186km
27km to go and the bunch have entered the centre of Zurich. No splits in the break though on the climb but they still have a 1km to go.
The four leaders are still together but they climb will have hurt them. It's about recovery now and then it all depends on who has what left in the tank.
The break haven't had to go full gas since the peloton haven't been interested in chasing but they've been out there for a long time.
Hayman calls for the team car but it's the Shack car that's first on the scene.
The bunch are now taking on the final climb. BMC set the pace and they'll be watching for any attacks from GC rivals.
Rowe and Swift being dropped from the bunch, while up ahead the break continue to work well together.
Gilbert is currently setting the pace for the BMC led peloton with Frank just a couple of wheels back.
13km remaining from 186km
13km to go for the break and Kolobnev takes the 6 points at the intermediate sprint. There's a slight climb still to come but it's not classified.
To some extent Hayman, Grabsch and Rast cancel each other out, all three powerful, stocky riders. Will that help Kolobnev's case or will he be the marked man?
Kolobnev leads as the four man group starts to climb. The Russian still looks relatively fresh at this stage.
The Russian tightens up his shoes and then drifts to the back of the group. He made sure the other three riders saw him as he played with his footwear.
Grabsch now leads them down this tight little descent, then it's almost all flat towards the finish. There is a slight headwind, which could be a factor.
Into the final 5km for the leaders.
They're starting to look at each other a bit more now but still no attacks.
And Grabsch attacks but it's Rast who closes down the move.
Just 3km to go.
And the Omega rider attacks again, this time from second wheel and it's Rast who closes it down again.
Now just 2km to go.
They've all slowed and Hayman just sits at the back.
They've spread all over the road and there' another attack from Grabsch.
This time it's Kolobnev who closes it down.
And Rast goes with 1km to go and he's clear.
The RadioShack rider is going to take the stage on home soil.
300 to go.
And Rast takes the win. As soon as he attacked he had a clear gap. Kolobnev was spent after closing down Grabsch.
Hayman takes second on the stage and Kolobnev third. Grabsch has to settle for fourth.
Kolobnev tried to shut down the Rast attack but he had no help from Hayman who sat on the wheel.
A much needed win for RadioShack with speculation about problems over payments in the press earlier this week.
1 Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack Leopard 4:22:53
2 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:00:25
3 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha
4 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:28
5 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:10:43
6 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
7 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
8 Ben Swift (GBr) Sky Procycling
9 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
10 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Belisol
And in terms of the GC:
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
Thanks for joining us today. Tune in tomorrow for more coverage from the Tour de Suisse.
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