Friday, 17 June 2011

Tour de Suisse Stage 7 results

What a stage! Today had everything a cycling fan could want - the kind of scenery only Switzerland and Austria can provide, a few bits for the sprinters, a few pointy bits for the climbers and a massive great mountain slap bang in the middle to let everyone know who's the boss.

Andy Schleck pulled his finger out
today and was the first man up the
A rather unexpected boss emerged: who should come riding up from the back of the pack where he's been all week since breaking his chain in the prologue...? Andy Schleck! He was first over the Flüelapass, which must have got Alberto Contador worried; it's been looking like next month's Tour de France was as good as his so far, but with Andy back in the zone he'll know he's going to have to work even harder than he did last year. So, was Schleck the Younger sandbagging in the hope of lulling Bertie into a false sense of security or has he genuinely been lacking good form? Only time will tell; but he got up the hill quicker than a fat bloke gets to Greg's when the pasties are BOGOF, so we're guessin' he was bluffin'. Or maybe he was just sulkin' - after all, chains have cost him a lot in the past.

He either couldn't or didn't want to win the stage, though, coming in a close second behind Thomas de Gendt who rode like a mountain-munching grimpeur today - honestly, how do the Benelux countries repeatedly turn out climbers of this calibre? Asked if he'd been aware it was Schleck chasing him up the last hill, he replied: "I was thinking he was going to catch me in the end." Another indication that ol' Schlecky knows what he's about, and more encouragement for Bertie to train hard over the next two weeks.

Third place went to Jose Joaquin Rojas, fourth to Christian Vande Velde, fifth to Alberto Losada, sixth to Sergey Lagutin, seventh to Jan "Pitbull" Bakelants who seems to have spent most of this Tour attacking anything that comes near him, eighth to to that little Italian munchkin Marco Marcato, a very impressive ninth to veteran George Hincapie who turns 38 at the end of this month and tenth to Manuele Boaro who as a result may now get a Wikipedia page written about him. Andy took a very well deserved green jersey for King of the Mountains, and that counts for a lot on a stage like this one.

Thomas de Gendt was first over the finish, and he earned it. Mrs. Cyclopunk says he's cute.
Overall leadership stays much the same with Damiano Cunego, Bauke Mollema and Steven Kruijswijk holding onto first, second and third. The next couple of stages, apart from a few lumps, are going to see the controls handed back to the sprinters so this arrangement probably won't change dramatically before the race ends on Sunday and it's looking increasingly like Cunego's our man.

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