Columbia's Martin this time, Valjavec defends lead in stage 8 of Tour de Suisse
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Columbia's Martin this time, Valjavec defends lead in stage 8 of Tour de Suisse

by Steve Jones at 1:02 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour de Suisse
Columbia-High Road managed to win another stage in the Tour de Suisse today, this time with German Tony Martin. And if winning six of the eight stages isn't impressive enough, they have managed to accomplish this feat with five riders of different nationalities. Certainly the team's Tour de France selection process will be a difficult task. In second place came a charging Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC) nearly closing the gap to the German, followed by a defiant Fabian Cancellara in third.

"On the climb I told my teammates I was going to go for it at 500 meters. I thought Cunego was going to catch me by the line, but I managed to get my first big win," said Martin after the finish.

Tadej Valjavec (AG2R La Mondiale) managed to defend his lead today setting up tomorrow's battle for general classification in the time trail. Valjavec isn't expected to defend his lead, but the yellow jersey has a way of bringing riders to another level so he is expected to put in a good time. Oliver Zaugg (Liquigas) dropped out of the top three losing contact with the leading group after his attack was brought back by Saxo Bank.

How the race unfolded

A group of four including Lars Boom (Rabobank), Pavel Brutt (Katusha), Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (Cofidis) and Marcel Wyss (Cervélo TestTeam) made up the breakaway of the day. The group gained a lead of over 5 minutes on the main group, but the escape didn't have the horsepower to make over the rise to the end. Pavel Brutt (Katusha) and Marcel Wyss (Cervélo TestTeam) were the last to survive, and were brought back into the fold after the attacks began on the last big climb of the day.

Team Saxo Bank did an incredible job of neutralizing the race today, escorting Cancellara up the climb at an even pace while managing to bring back a flurry of attacks by overall contenders Roman Kreuziger and Oliver Zaugg of Liquigas and Andreas Klöden from Astana. Valjavec had a great ride defending his leaders jersey, but the most impressive work of the day way by Frank Schleck. The Luxemburger, who can climb with the best in the world, was able to find a pace that allowed his Swiss teammate to survive on a climb that would hardly have been expected to. Because of Schleck's efforts, Cancellara now has a chance to seal up the win in his home race in tomorrow's stage. Not only will the stage be a time trial of 39 kilometers, which is a perfect distance for the man they call Spartacus, but it takes place in his hometown of Bern where the finish line will be less than a handful of kilometers from his home.

But before Cancellara can claim his prize he will have to fend off Kreuziger and Klöden who both showed they were riding well on the climb up Crans-Montana. The key will be whether Cancellara can recover from the incredible effort he had to make to keep himself in the running for the overall.

Stage Results
1. Tony Martin - Columbia-High Road
2. Damiano Cunego - Lampre-NGC
3. Fabian Cancellara - Saxo Bank at 2sec
4. Tadej Valjavec - AG2R La Mondiale st
5. Kim Kirchen - Columbia-High Road st
6. Rein Taaramäe - Cofidis st
7. Andreas Klöden - Astana st
8. Roman Kreuziger - Liquigas st
9. Vladimir Karpets - Katusha st
10. Fränk Schleck - Saxo Bank st

1. Tadej Valjavec - AG2R La Mondiale
2. Fabian Cancellara - Saxo Bank at 04
3. Roman Kreuziger - Liquigas at 28
4. Tony Martin - Columbia-High Road at 39
5. Andreas Klöden - Astana at 45

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