Robbie McEwen (Predictor) showed he has the speed for the Tour de France sprints by winning the fifth stage of the Tour of Switzerland from Valduz to Giubiasco on Wednesday.
The 35 year-old former BMX rider from Brisbane made it over the major climb of the tough 190km stage and then beat Italy?s Daniele Bennati and Germany?s Erik Zabel with a well-timed late acceleration to the line.
McEwen claimed he suffered during the stage but in the sprint Bennati had no chance of getting past him and Zabel was more than two bike lengths behind. Britain?s Roger Hammond finished 26th in the sprint as he fights for a place in the T-Mobile team for the Tour de France.
Despite a spring troubled by illness, it was McEwen?s fifth win in 2007 and the 155th win of his impressive 12-year career.
?I didn?t expect the stage to end in a sprint today so this is a surprise win,? McEwen said
?It was a really hard stage. The early two-rider breakaway meant we raced all day and we went up the long climb in the middle of the stage really fast. I have to thank my team mates for this victory. They lead the chase in the final hour and then they carefully protected me in the sprint.?
?The Liquigas team lead the bunch for a long time but they faded in the final kilometres and my team mate Fred Rodriguez helped me stay near the front in the confusion. I waited before jumping but then went hard in the last 150 metres. I was stuffed in the last 100 metres but I kept accelerating and made it to the line.?
Schleck still in overall control
After his dominant ride on the uphill finish in Liechtenstein on Tuesday, Frank Schleck (CSC) team finished safely in the bunch, in the same time as McEwen, and so retained the overall race lead of the nine-day race.
Russia?s Vladimir Efimkin is second and Kim Kirchen of Luxembourg is third, both 49 seconds behind Schleck.
Schleck will face a tougher time on Thursday in the 190.8km sixth stage from Giubiasco to the ski resort of Crans Montana. The stage ends with a 10km climb up to the finish.