Suisse 6: Kim Kirchen wins, grabs lead

Luxembourger flexes Tour muscles

Luxembourg's Kim Kirchen (Team High Road) surged into the overall lead of the Tour of Switzerland after keeping his cool to win the sixth stage here on Thursday.

Kirchen showed his strength and composure in the tough Verbier climb, taking control of the race with 200 metres left to beat German Andreas Kloden (Astana) and the young Czech Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas).

The 29-year-old Kirchen, who notched up his 15th professional victory, now leads the standings 27 seconds in front of Kreuziger and 33 seconds ahead of Spain's Igor Anton (Euskaltel).

Kirchen is proving his versatility in the Tour - coming second in Saturday's first stage with a good sprint finish, while placing third in Sunday's high-altitude climb.

Maxim Iglinsky (Astana) was the first to attack in the 188km race between Ambri and here, but was quickly closed down by a nine-man group led by Switzerland's David Loosli.

On the downward slope of Martigny that group increased to ten as Maarten Tjallingii of The Netherlands joined before an explosive last 20km.

Mathias Frank (Gerolsteiner) and Philip Deignan (AG2R) tried their luck on the Verbier rise, opening up a two-minute gap on the peloton.

But with 5km left Frank Schleck and Belgian Stijn Devolder made up the ground to ensure a close finish.

But it was Kirchen, keeping calm until the last stages of the race, who showed good leg power to finish the strongest.

For a complete report with photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.

© BikeRadar & AFP 2008 

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