6/22/2014 - NEWS!
Rui Costa wins the Tour de Suisse
World Champion snatches victory from Tony Martin
Lampre-Merida's Rui Costa won his first race in the world champion's rainbow jersey on the final day of the Tour de Suisse to snatch the event’s overall victory for the third consecutive time on Sunday.
"What a wonderful day: stage and overall classification victories, I could not asked for a better end,” Costa said. “No one had ever won Tour de Suisse three times in a row. I’m proud to be the first one to do it and I think it's even a bigger satisfaction having done it wearing the rainbow jersey."
Costa attacked from a big group of riders on a nasty climb mid-stage to distance previous race leader Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). The German put up a brave fight on the long valley road and the 20km climb to the finish line in Saas-Fee, however, Costa was strong and took advantage of some great work by the Belkin and IAM Cycling teams before attacking alone in the final three kilometers to take the stage win.
Bauke Mollema (Belkin) and Matthias Frank (IAM Cycling) finished second and third, and also climbed onto the final podium. Frank finished second overall at 33 seconds and with Mollema third at 50 seconds. After leading the race since the opening time trial, Martin dropped to fourth overall at 1:13 minutes down.
"I did my best to fight kilometer-by-kilometer and I have to be satisfied with what I could do today," Martin said. "As for my team, they did their best all week. It's no secret we're not here with the best mountain team. They gave everything. I have to be satisfied with how my team fought, how I fought, and I need to think positive for the future."
How it happened
This decisive finale offered a 157km race from Martigny to Saas-Fee that included four climbs. Although the previous day’s eighth stage was considered the “queen” stage due to the finish on the road to Verbier, the ninth stage was arguably much tougher and proved to be Tony Martin's downfall and the scene of Costa's triumph.
A large group of riders cleared from the peloton over the first ascent of the day to Veysonnaz, just 40km into the race. The lead group reshuffled on the second climb to St. Martin at the 60km mark, as several riders bridged across. The riders in the front group were Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin), Andre Cardoso (Garmin-Sharp), Johann Tschopp (IAM Cycling), Jeremy Roy and Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ.fr), Sander Armee (Lotto Belisol), Danilo Wyss, Steve Morabito (BMC), Oliver Zaugg (Tinkoff-Saxo), Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing), Georg Preidler (Giant-Shimano), Ruben Plaza (Movistar), Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Katusha), Christian Knees (Team Sky), Silvan Dillier (BMC), Maniuele Boaro (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Stef Clement (Belkin).
The large group developed nearly a lead of a minute and a half halfway through the stage, setting alarm bells ringing for Martin and his teammates behind. Morabito was the highest placed rider in the move having started the stage 3:05 minutes behind Martin in the overall classification.
Back in the peloton, Omega Pharma-QuickStep pushed the pace to hold the breakaway at a manageable distance. Several decisive attacks came out of the field on the third climb of the day over Eischoll, 114.7km into the stage. It was text book racing, with Martin’s GC rivals: Costa (1:05 minutes back in third place overall), Frank (1:14 back in fourth and Mollema at 1:41) surging away from the Martin group mid-way up the climb.
The trio’s teammates dropped out of the breakaway to help them bridge across and they made contact as front group crested the third climb. Martin however, was left behind, nearly a minute and a half back, forced to chase along with Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano), whose teammate Preidler dropped out of the breakaway to help the field with the chase. Giant-Shimano contributed several riders the chase to try and save Dumoulin’s place in the GC but had missed their chance when Costa, Frank and Mollema went away.
Several riders were dropped from the move including Andy Schleck, however the attack continued with nine riders and gained time on Martin’s chase group. The gap shot back up to over two minutes as they headed toward the final climb, 24km to go, with Frank, Mollema, Costa, Cardoso, Tschopp, Roy, Armee, Morabito, Zaugg and Kuchynski up front.
The last climb of the day brought the riders up 20km to the finish line in Saas-Fee. Costa had the most to gain in the breakaway but needed to stick with the move on the steeper parts of the ascent if he hoped to win the overall title. On the lower slopes, the breakaway continued to work hard as IAM Cycling set the pace for Frank.
Having lost several of their teammates in the chase, Martin and Dumoulin were forced to move to the front and help each other try to bring time back on the breakaway. Their two-up time trial efforts reduced the gap to 1:45 minutes but it was a tough undertaking with 14km still to go and the gap went up and down by 10 seconds but never looked like falling further. Several riders sat behind the pair waiting patiently for the last kilometers to attack in hopes of benefiting off of their efforts.
The gap grew back up to two minutes with eight kilometers to go and Eros Cappechi (Movistar) took that as his queue to make the first attack on Martin’s chase group. Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff Saxo) followed but the pair were brought back. New attacks came from Sergio Pardilla Bellon (MTN-Qhubeka) and Laurens ten Dam (Belkin) but Martin refused to give up and continued to grind his gears up the climb to bring them all back.
In the front group, Wyss did much of the work to for his teammate Frank. The Swiss rider made his attack with just over three kilometers to go but was quickly followed by Mollema and Costa. Indeed, the world champion took advantage of the small gap and increased his speed through the final slopes of the ascent. He opened a significant advantage over chasers Frank and Mollema, while simultaneously ending Martin’s race lead. His gap was enough to secure the stage 9 victory and the overall title at the Tour de Suisse, all in the same moment as his first victory as world champion. It was yet another classy display of riding from the world champion.
Read more on: Cyclingnews.com