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Costa Wins Tour de Suisse With Serious Climbing

Astana's Kangert gets a big win

By Chris Jasurek
Epoch Times Staff
Created: June 17, 2012 Last Updated: June 20, 2012
Related articles: Sports » Cycling
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Rui Costa thanks Alejandro Valverde for the hard work the Valverde did to help Costa secure the GC win. (Movistarteam.com)

Rui Costa thanks Alejandro Valverde for the hard work the Valverde did to help Costa secure the GC win. (Movistarteam.com)

Astana’s Tanel Kangert outsprinted FDJ’s Jérémy Roi, the only other survivor from a 175-km breakaway to win Stage Nine of the Tour de Suisse, while Movistar’s Rui Costa defended his 14-second lead  to win the General Classification.

RadioShack’s Frank Schleck attacked on the second Hors Categorie climb of the stage after using his teammates to push the pace over the first two climbs of the day. The RadioShack rider opened a good gap but lost it all on the long drag to the Cat 2 mountaintop finish, where he lacked the legs to escape from Costa.

“I’m extremely happy to have been able to crown all the work done during the week,” Costa said on the team website. “I saw I had good legs after the first climb and that made me confident. I didn’t become nervous when Schleck attacked, because I knew he was really strong uphill and it’d have been crazy to go for him. I knew that the flat between the two climbs was good for us to reel him back, and that’s what we did.

“In the finale, Alejandro gave me some fundamental help because the race was becoming chaos, and he did an impressive work. I owe this yellow jersey to him. He’s a great champion, a great team-mate and friend, and he showed those values today.”

While Costa marked the riders closest to him in GC, teammate Alejandro Valverde did a huge turn of work in the final kilometers to chase down an attack by Rabobank’s Stephen Kruiswijk, Saxo Bank’s Chris Anker Sorenson, BMC’s Mathias Frank, and Astana’s Robert Kiserlovski.

Kruiswijk was only 1:01 down, so Costa couldn’t let him go, but he also couldn’t wear himself out chasing; he needed to save his legs to cover further attacks by immediate threats like Schleck (-14 seconds,) Levi Leipheimer (-21,) Robert Gesink (-25,) Mikel Nieve (-40,) and Tom Danielson (-43.)

Valverde sacrificed himself for his teammate, pushing hard through the final ten kilometers to bring Costa within range of the four attackers. Costa did the rest, covering attacks by Nicholas Roach and Mikel Nieve and crossing the line in lockstep with Schleck, making sure not to lose a fraction of a second.

“Together with my stage win in the Tour, this is my most important triumph and the one I’m going to enjoy the most for all efforts we had to take,” Costa explained. “I want to dedicate this to all the team, because they made a magnificent labor all week. I have no words to describe it.”

A Scary Stage for a Tired Rider

Costa had trouble on the hard climbs of Stage Eight, losing most of the time he had gained with his excellent ride in the Stage Seven time trial. Stage Eight was short, with a couple of serious climbs, but Stage Nine was lethal: 216 kms with a Cat 2 climb followed by a pair of HC ascents wrapping up atop a Cat 2 mountain.  

After the first climb, Costa realized he had no reason to worry. “I saw I had good legs after the first climb and that made me confident,” he explained.

The day’s breakaway didn’t escape until 40 km into the stage: Jeremy Roy (FDJ-BigMat,) Brent Bookwalter (BMC,) Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM,) Tanel Kangert (Astana,) and Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r.) This group opened a gap of 13:15 before the chase got serious. The break stayed together until the climb up the hors categorie Glaubenbielen. Boeckmans dropped off first, Bookwalter was next, as Montaguti pushed on to capture all the King of the Mountain points (he won the Mountain Classification.)

RadioShack pushed hard up this climb, trying to isolate Costa. The pace shrunk the leading group to seven riders: Schleck, Costa, Valverde, Danielson, Nieve, and Gesink.

Halfway up the climb, Euskaltel’s Nieve attacked, with Garmin’s Danielson following. That got nowhere, but the next attack, by Frank Schleck, was more determined. Nieve was the only rider able to follow Schleck at first, Danielson and omega Pharma-Lotto’s Leipheimer tried to follow, Schleck pushed on, dropping Nieve, but Danielson made the effort to catch the RadioShack rider.

Schleck insisted; he dropped Danielson, who rode along between Schleck and the quintet of Costa, Valverde, Nieve, Leipheimer, and Rabobank’s Gesink.

Schleck crested the hill 40 seconds ahead of his pursuers, but here is strategy fell apart. He had no teammates left; he had used them all on the climb. Riding alone on the long false flat to the final climb, Schleck was easy prey, and 20 km from the finish he was snatched up by the peloton, now composed of 17 riders.

Fifteen kilometers from the finish, riders started attacking; Sorenson went first, followed by Kruiswijk Kiserlovski, and Frank. These four teamed up after five km and started chasing the breakaway.

Valverde did his part, cutting this group’s gap to 30 seconds by the time they reached the Cat 2 Sörenberg, 5.6 km at 3.8 percent, with ramps up to 11 percent. Jérémy Roi attacked on the lower slopes of the climb; Kangert responded, but Montaguti did not. He had worked for his KOM points and had nothing left to win or to give.

Kangert and Roi marked each other though the final kilometer, but they couldn’t afford to mess about much; the rest of the riders were coming. Roi finally made a move with 250 meters to go, but Kangert came around him and took the stage.

Ag2R’s Nicholas Roche caught and passed Costa’s group, leading it in a chase after the Kruiswijk group. Roche, 13th in GC at 1:52, was ahead of Sorenson, Kiserlovski, and Frank; he faced losing three spots if he let them go.

Nieve also made an attack in the final few hundred meters, but it was too late. The three riders with Kruiswijk crossed the line a few seconds ahead of the chasers, and Costa didn’t let anyone gain a second on him.

Tour de Suisse Stage Nine

 

rider

team

time

1

Tanel Kangert

Astana

5:54:22

2

Jérémy Roy

FDJ-Big Mat

0:00:02

3

Matteo Montaguti

Ag2R

0:00:31

4

Robert Kiserlovski

Astana

0:01:46

5

 Steven Kruijswijk

Rabobank

0:01:46

6

 Mathias Frank

BMC

0:01:46

7

Chris Anker Sörensen

Saxo Bank

0:01:46

8

Frank Schleck

RadioShack-Nissan

0:01:48

9

Robert Gesink

Rabobank

0:01:48

10

Rui Da Costa

Movistar

0:01:48

Final General Classification

 

rider

team

time

1

Rui Da Costa

Movistar

35:54:49

2

Frank Schleck

RadioShack-Nissan

0:00:14

3

Levi Leipheimer

Omega Pharma-QuickStep

0:00:21

4

Robert Gesink

Rabobank

0:00:25

5

Mikel Nieve

Euskaltel-Euskadi

0:00:40

6

Roman Kreuziger

Astana

0:00:47

7

Thomas Danielson

Garmin-Barracuda

0:00:48

8

Steven Kruijswijk

Rabobank

0:00:59

9

Alejandro Valverde

Movistar

0:01:42

10

Nicolas Roche

AG2R

0:01:52

 




   

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