Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha) won Wednesday’s fifth stage of the 2012 Tour de Suisse from an escape group.
Isaychev out-paced Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Salvatore Puccio (Sky) in the final gallop from a six-man group to take his first professional win.
There was no change to the overall classification with Rui Costa (Movistar) maintaining his eight-second lead ahead of Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan).
The day’s escape group consisted of Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha), Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank), Klaas Lodewyck (BMC), Sebastien Minard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale), Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Salvatore Puccio (Sky).
The seven men worked up a time gap of over 10 minutes on the route from Trimbach/Olten to Gansingen that featured six third-category climbs.
With several riders in the escape group from the stronger teams, it was down to those squads with no riders in the break to chase it down. The Liquigas-Cannondale team of triple stage winner Peter Sagan was happy to let the break go up the road, with Oss representing the Italian team. The chase never really materialised, so the day’s winner was going to come from the escape.
Lodewyck launched an attack with around 15km to go, but it was a last-ditch effort from Belgian. Isaichev countered, catching and passing Lodewyck – who promptly went out the back of the escape group, his chance of a win over.
Perez then attacked the break, but couldn’t make up sufficient ground to make an impact and was caught as he headed under the 10km-to-go marker.
Mindful that Oss was the fastest finisher in the group, the five other riders were reluctant to lead. Kroon seized his moment to attack with 7km to go, and was joined by Perez and Isaychev as Oss, Minard and Puccio trailed. Oss drove the pace of the three chasers and the six were soon reunited.
With a gap of over ten minutes on the bunch, the escapees had plenty of time to play with and a game of cat-and-mouse ensued in the final 5km. At times, the group virtually ground to a halt as they all watched each other intently.
Minard was the first to make a concerted move, firing up the right hand side of the road. Perez and Oss chased him down and again the six were soon back together to contest the stage win.
Isaychev opened up his sprint early and managed to hold off the quickly advancing Perez, with Oss failing to take part in the finale. The bunch trailed in over 11 minutes behind the escapees, with all contenders present.
Thursday’s stage six offers much of the same, with lumpy 199km stage from Wittnau to Bischofszell featuring five categorised climbs. The sting in the tail is a ramp up to the line, which may favour a late attack. Or Peter Sagan could win again.
The WorldTour-level Tour de Suisse concludes on Sunday, June 17.
Tour de Suisse 2012, stage five: Trimbach/Olten to Gansingen, 192.7km
1. Vladimir Isaychev (Rus) Katusha in 4-58-28
2. Ruben Perez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
3. Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Sky
4. Karsten Kroon (Ned) Saxo Bank
5. Sebastien Minard (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at same time
6. Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 5 secs
7. Klaas Lodewijck (Bel) BMC Racing at 1-50
8. Elia Viviani (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 11-07
9. Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM
10. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1 at same time
Overall classification after stage five
1. Rui Costa (Pro) Movistar in 20-53-27
2. Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan at 8 sec s
3. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 15 secs
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-BigMat at 19 secs
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 21 secs
6. Thomas Lovkvist (Swe) Sky at 21 secs
7. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 23 secs
8. John Gadret (Fra) Agr2-La Mondiale at 24 secs
9. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 26 secs
10. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Barracuda at 29 secs
Vladimir Isaychev takes his first pro win
Rui Costa keeps race lead for another day
Tour de Suisse 2012: Related links