6/18/2013 - NEWS!
Costa wins stage 7 at Tour de Suisse
June 14, Stage 7: Meilen - La Punt 206km
Frank hangs on to overall race lead
2012 Tour de Suisse overall winner Rui Costa (Movistar) snatched the stage victory in La Punt after an aggressive race on the final climb and a fast descent to the finish. Costa beat Bauke Mollema (Blanco) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC) in a three-rider sprint after they dived down the descent of the Albula Pass that shook up the race on the climb and on the descent.
Matthias Frank (BMC) finished 22 seconds down on Costa, in a select chase group but managed to hang onto to his leader's yellow jersey. Costa is now second overall at 13 seconds, with Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) third at 23 seconds.
Saturday's stage is largely flat and so the Tour de Suisse is set to be decided in the final 26.8km time trial from Bad Ragaz to Flumserberg. The first part is flat but the final 10km climb from an altitude of 400m to the finish at 1200m.
With Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) third overall at 23 seconds and Frank's BMC teammate Tejay van Garderen sixth at 1:17, the race is still very open.
"I'm happy with the win and the seconds I've gained," Costa said after his win. "I want to do something today and thanks to the work of my team and the other teams we did well. Getting time and getting the win were important."
"Now we'll see what happens on Sunday. It's a time trial and things are still close but I'll try my best."
How it happened
The long stage rolled along the valleys for much of the day before the Albula Pass rose it heads and caused the attacks and split between the overall contenders.
Thirteen riders formed the early break of the day with Luis Leon Sanchez (Blanco) the best placed rider overall. However with Saxo-Tinkoff riding for Kreuziger, the move was never allowed to go clear and the peloton came after them before the 25.8km climb.
Georg Preidler (Argos-Shimano) stayed out front with Joe Dombrowski (Team Sky) kicking off the racing on the climb by hitting out alone in pursuit. The lanky American showed his talent and determination by dropping Preidler and then staying away for most of the climb, with Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) unable to get across the gap.
The overall contenders bided their time and waited for the final kilometres of the climb, with Andy Schleck (Radioshack-Leopard) staying in the front group for much of the way.
Mollema blew the front group apart, cracking Saxo-Tinkoff's control and forcing a select group clear. Costa, Pinot (FDJ), Van Garderen, Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) and others were there but further attacks near the summit caused further splits and saw Frank slip back and van Garderen assume team leadership but ride in a protective role for BMC.
The finish in La Punt was at the foot of the fast descent off the mountain. Costa helped force the four clear, with a collapsed two-kilometre inflatable banner slowing Costa and van Garderen who had opened a slight lead on Pinot and Mollema.
The Dutchman managed to get back on in time for he sprint but there was little he could do. Costa cleverly closed the door on van Garderen in the final metres and had the legs and energy to celebrate a great stage win.
Frank came in just 22 seconds back, with Martin, Dombrowski and others, saving his yellow jersey and a final shot at overall victory.
Saturday's 180.5km eighth stage is from Zernez to Bad Ragaz and is expected to suit a breakaway or end in a sprint finish. The final overall winner will crowned on Sunday.
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Photo credit © Sirotti