It was almost Groundhog Day on the Tour de Suisse on Friday, as for the second time in 72 hours, Marcus Burghardt (BMC) claimed a lone stage win after taking part in a day-long breakaway.
Even the terrain and the weather were similar on the transition stage: very hilly, narrow roads and freezing rain and even some sleet for most of the day. By the finish, though, it was much sunnier than when Burghardt claimed his first win of the race, with the BMC rider waving a German flag he had grabbed from a spectator and giving several victory salutes as he crossed the line.
It’s very much to Burghardt’s credit that he had made a very tough ride, attacking alone 60 kilometres from the finish from a break of 16, look easy. When you bear in mind he’d been in an another move two days before, to hit the bullseye twice in such a short space of time was a remarkable performance, particularly given his previous victory dated from two years earlier in the Tour de France.
Unfortunately, Burghardt’s strength also led to an uneventful stalemate behind. The 15 riders left in the break failed to organise themselves well before Burghardt had over a minute’s advantage.
Although a chase group of five finally came together, Burghardt’s team-mate Mathias Frank sat on the back of it, disheartening the counter-attackers and leaving the road clear for another big win on home soil for BMC.
On the dullest day so far of the Tour de Suisse, following stage six’s high mountain drama the overall contenders tok it relatively calmly, finishing five minutes down with no major upsets.
Leading a stage race for just the second time in his career, Robert Gesink said afterwards that he had not had an easy day, but with two team-mates (Oscar Freire and Tom Leezer) in the breakaway strategically Rabobank had had few worries.
“It was freezing cold halfway through the stage, but that was the worst thing,” Gesink said, before identifying Armstrong – who stuck to Gesink’s back wheel like a limpet in the closing kilometres – as the big rival for the overall victory in Sunday’s time trial.
“But let’s get through tomorrow’s stage before we start thinking about that too much,” Gesink said. “Stage eight has 2,500 metres of climbing and it could be very tricky. I don’t want to look too far ahead.”
Tour de Suisse 2010, stage seven:
1. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team
2. Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank at 1-01
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
4. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
5. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 1-08
Overall classification after stage seven
1. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank in 30-15-59
2. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d’Epargne at 29sec
3. Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team at 36sec
4. Frank Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 38sec
5. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 42sec
Gert Steegmans (l) and Lance Armstrong in the rain
Race leader Robert Gesink