6/18/2013 12:00:00 AM - TEAM NEWS!
Costa repeats as Tour de Suisse champion
June 16, Stage 9: Bad Ragaz - Flumserberg 26.8km
Portuguese rider wins final TT to secure overall victory
Portugal's Rui Costa (Movistar) won the final mountain time trial to Flumserberg to take overall victory in the 77th edition of the Tour de Suisse, snatching the race winner's leader from local hero Mathias Frank (BMC).
Costa won overall last year and broke Frank's heart with a superb performance against the clock. He set a time of 51:56 and gained enough time to win overall. Frank lost close to two minutes and slipped to fifth overall.
Bauke Mollema (Blanco) rode a good final time trial to move up to second overall, 1:02 down on Costa, with Roman Kreuziger retaining third at 1:10. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) showed he is on form for the Tour de France with fourth overall at 1:26, with Frank a disappointed fifth at 1:53.
Tejay van Garderen (BMC) had been a contender for the stage victory but he faded on the climb, finishing tenth on the stage and so seventh overall, at 2:23.
Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge) also suffered on the climb, finishing 15th at 1:48 and so tenth overall at 3:44. Ireland's Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) was 12th on the stage to take eighth in the final GC.
Costa perfect on the climb
Costa started the time trial just 13 seconds down on Frank. He was confident of beating him but also had to watch for a challenge from Kreuziger. However he rode perfectly, looking fast but within his limits on the flat section, before swapping from a TT bike to his road bike for the nine-kilometre climb to the finish.
Early fast times by Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ) were quickly blown away, with Costa gaining much of his time on the climb and especially the final part. While others faded, he accelerated and was the only rider to dip under the 52-minute barrier.
Portuguese cycling fans greeted Costa with loud cheers, chanting his name after he crossed the line and when he pulled on the winner's yellow jersey.
"It's great to win. This was an important stage and it was great to have a chance to win again," he explained. "It was a perfect day for me. My directeur sportif gave me good time checks and I felt good in the time trial."
"To win the Tour de Suisse once is good, to win it twice is even better and I won two stages too. It's nice to see so many fans here too."
Costa is expected to be a key part of the powerful Movistar team for the Tour de France. The Spanish squad will have Spain's Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana of Colombia as team leaders but Costa could also play an important role and confirm his stage race talents yet again.
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Photo credit © Bettini