McEwen Wins Stage 2 of Swiss Tour
Robbie McEwen (Lotto) has won Stage 2 of the Tour de Suisse. The Australian took a bunch sprint from Olaf Pollack (Gerolsteiner) and Robert Hunter (Rabobank) to win the flat, 169.9-km run from Durrenroth to Rheinfelden in 3:44:57. Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) remains the overall leader.
From the beginning, the racing was aggressive. After many abortive sallies, seven men--Michael Blaudzun (CSC), Jan Boven (Rabobank), Eric Leblacher (Credit Agricole), Markus Zberg (Gerolsteiner), Martin Elmiger (Phonak), Paolo Bettini (Quick Step), and Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola)--escaped at 40 km. By 75 km, the septet had forged a 4:30 lead over the Lotto-led peloton.
The fugitives' advantage maxed out at 5:00. Mr. Bookmaker joined Lotto at the front, and the lead gradually came down.
With 15 km left and the break leading the bunch by 1:04, Elmiger and Zberg attacked their companions, and Garzelli and Leblacher joined them. At this point, however, the bunch was flying and would have none of it. With four km left, the field was together.
In the final km, Alexandre Moos (Phonak) and Alberto Ongarato (Fassa Bortolo) made unsuccessful solo attacks. With 300 m left, McEwen charged into the lead and easily held off Pollack and Hunter.
The abandonment of Alexander Vinokourov (T-Mobile) marred the stage. With 47 km left, the defending champion crashed and tore several ligaments in his shoulder. T-Mobile officials expect the Kazakh to be off of a bicycle for about three weeks, which takes him out of the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France. This is a blow not only to Ullrich's hopes of winning the Swiss Tour but also to his chances of dethroning Lance Armstrong (U.S. Postal Service) in the French one.
In the overall, Ullrich leads Oscar Camenzind (Phonak) by 0:02 and Fabian Jeker (Saunier Duval) by 0:06. Stage 3 will be a relatively flat, 185-km ride from Rheinfelden to Juraparc-Vallorbe. However, the ride ends with a short but steep climb. Will anyone be able to pick up enough seconds to take overall leadership from Ullrich? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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