Two-time world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) put his speed DNA to good use, unleashing a blistering solo bid for victory in the 171km stage 7 of the Tour of Switzerland with 6km to go Friday, capturing a win reminiscent of his victory at Milan-San Remo this spring.
Team High Road's Kim Kirchen holds onto the race leader's jersey as the peloton prepares for Saturday's 25km individual time trial.
"I wasn't expecting it today, but it's true I wanted to win a stage on the Tour of Switzerland," said Cancellara of the Gruyeres to Lyss leg. The 27-year-old praised his CSC team for their efforts and said his win was a tactical triumph.
"I had to be clever to decide what to do and when to do it," he said. "I had an idea that a breakaway would not work. I had to find another solution."
Belgian duo Johan von Summeren and Sebastien Rosseleras, and Germany's Ronny Scholz set the pace early when they made the day's biggest break after 61km.
That long attack was eventually closed down 15km from the line, when they handed over the race to their respective team sprinters. But the transition was not quick enough and the sprinters left a gap that Cancellara - who has tasted Tour de France stage glory on three occasions - took full and swift advantage of.
Cancellara, winner of the Milan-San Remo earlier this year, then surged away from the main group with nine kilometres left to run. The peloton, including Thursday's stage winner Kirchen, made up ground on the Swiss after three kilometres, but the Berne-born rider was revelling in the home conditions.
"The victory is good for the CSC team. A victory in the bag before the Tour de France is important," said Cancellera.
Luxembourg's Kirchen commented on the race's quick pace, adding that he was a little nervous going into Saturday's penultimate stage.
"I will be a little nervous being the last to ride with the yellow jersey on my back. It's a new situation for me," he said about the 25km time-trial between Altdorf and Klausen.
"Tomorrow the Tour of Switzerland will be decided."
For a complete report with photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.
© BikeRadar & AFP 2008