Tour de Suisse Stage 9: Leipheimer Battles for 3rd in GC

Sunday 17 June 2012 - 19:46

While two riders battled for the stage finish in the final 215km Tour de Suisse stage, from Nafels to Lintharena, the battle for the yellow jersey was in full swing a few minutes back.

Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Levi Leipheimer, Frank Schleck (Radioshack-Nissan) and Rui Costa (Movistar), all within 30 seconds of each other in the GC, were part of a select group in the final kilometers. Schleck, who attacked the group with about 45km to go, had to be reeled in by the Costa group as he tired and waited for the group with 21km to go.

At the time Schleck attacked, the group he was with had been reduced to Leipheimer, Costa, Robert Gesink (Rabobank), Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Tom Danielson (Garmin-Barracuda) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). As he went solo, getting a gap of about a minute, Tom Danielson tried to chase him alone, but was eventually caught by the yellow jersey chase group. Once Schleck was caught, a larger group had formed of riders who worked their way back to the yellow jersey group. Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank) was one of those riders. He counter attacked shortly after Schleck was brought back.

One of the other riders in the group was Steven Kruijswijk (Rabobank), who trailed Costa in the GC by 1'01". With about 14km to go, Kruijswijk, Mathias Frank (BMC Racing Team) and Robert Kiserlovski (Astana Pro Team) also attacked. Meanwhile, a break of three —Tanel Kangert (Astana Pro Team), Jeremy Roy (FDJ-Bigmat) and Matteo Montaguti (Ag2R - La mondiale) had become a duo when Roy attacked, and only Kangert could stick to his wheel.

The duo of Kangert and Roy sprinted for the race win, with Kangert winning out. Levi battled in the yellow jersey group on the Category 2 climb to the finish, and was able to finish alongside Costa and Schleck. They closed in on the Kruijswijk group just before the line, preserving their spots on the podium. Costa won the overall, with Schleck finishing 14" back in 2nd, and Levi 21" back in 3rd overall.

"Today I wasn't good as yesterday." Levi said. "The most I can do was to defend third place. The team helped me a lot and I want to thank them. The big Belgian guys did the job in the beginning and the others in the final. Today it was impossible to attack because Valverde and Costa were stronger then yesterday. But 6th in California and 3rd in the Tour de Suisse is a really good progression. I'm focused and ready for the Tour. The Tour de Suisse is a great preparation for the Tour de France. I can only improve. I want to be with the best in the Tour de France. In these next days I will work for it."

Sports Director Rik Van Slycke praised the work of Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team in the final stage.

"At the beginning of the race we tried to put one rider in the breakaway to help Levi during the last climb, but we didn't reach our goal," Van Slycke said. "At that point we worked all together for Levi. We didn't react to the attack of Schleck. The finish was too far and Valverde was doing a great job for Costa. In the final we started thinking about saving the podium and Levi did it perfectly. I want to thank also the team. The result of Levi repays everybody for the great team work we did in the last week."

See the result