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Schleck attacks but Costa crowned champion
. A bold attack by Frank Schleck on the final day of the Tour de Suisse failed to come to fruition with Rui Costa (Movistar) retaining his lead to be crowned the Tour de Suisse Champion.
Jun 18th, 12|
The stage was won in a two rider sprint by Tanel Kangert (Astana Pro Team) while nearly two minutes back the GC battle was at crunch time.
With 45km to go, Schleck (RadioShack Nissan Trek) attacked on the steep slopes of the HC Glaubenberg in the final 215km stage, where two HC climbs had to be tackled before the final ascent into Sörenberg (Cat. 2).
The Luxembourgian managed to gain a one minute advantage however he could not hold his effort and was caught by the lead group with 20km to go.
From there it was a closely marked ride to the finish, with Costa and his teammate Alejandro Valverde making sure no one ate into his 14sec advantage.
Costa, Schleck and their nearest rival Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma Quickstep) crossed the line in unison, 1m46 behind Kangert, with Costa rewarded with the win.
"I'm extremely happy to have been able to crown all the work done during the week," said the 25 year old Portuguese rider.
"I went through a bad day yesterday due to the efforts from the TT on Friday and I didn't know how I was going to feel today, but I used to recover well from such bad days. I already saw I had good legs after the first climb and that made me confident."
"I didn't become nervous either when Schleck attacked, because I knew he was doing really strong uphill and it'd have been crazy to go for him. I knew that the flat between the two climbs was good for us to reel him back, and that's how we did."
"In the finale, Alejandro gave me some fundamental help because the race was becoming chaos, and he did an impressive work. I owe this yellow jersey to him. He's a great champion, a great team-mate and friend, and he showed those values today."
"With 3k remaining, it was a matter of controlling the group and keeping Kruijswijk close. Together with my stage win in the Tour, this is my most important triumph and the one I'm going to enjoy the most for all efforts we had to take. I want to dedicate this to all the team, because they made a magnificent labor all week. I have no words to describe it."
The Tour de France stage winner took yellow on Stage 2 atop Verbier and managed to hold onto it to the finish of the tour atop Sorenberg.
While Schleck's bold move to rectify his 14sec time deficit did not come to fruition, he leaves knowing that he gave all that he could to the tour.
"I think we can be very satisfied. I have no regrets," said Schleck on the RadioShack Nissan Trek website. "I know I gave it everything I had to try to win it. We only had one option today and we played it. It was the only point in the race where we had a chance to win it, so I was all in."
The final GC battle
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, 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 1m1sec. 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.
The yellow jersey group kept their eyes on each other on the Category 2 climb to the finish with no one bold enough to repeat Schleck's attack. They closed in on the Kruijswijk group just before the line, preserving their spots on the overall podium.
Costa won the overall, with Schleck finishing 14sec back in second, and Leipheimer 21sec back in third overall.