Tour de Suisse 4: Breschel wins, Valjavec leads

Saxo Bank wins stage, loses lead

Danish cyclist Matti Breschel won the 195km Stage 4 of the Tour of Switzerland between Biasca and Staefa Tuesday, while his Saxo Bank teammate Fabian Cancellara conceded the overall race lead to Slovenian Tadej Valjavec of the AG2R team.

In a small bunch sprint for the finish, Breschel held off Astana's Maxim Iglinskiy by a wheel rim to snatch the stage victory. Valjavec finished third in the lead group.

Cancellara had led the nine-stage race since winning the opening time trial, but he came over the finish line 1 minute, 3 seconds in arrears to drop down the standings.

It is the third victory of the season for the 24-year-old Breschel, a bronze medallist at last year's world road race championship, after stage wins at the Tour of Catalonia and the Tour of Luxembourg.

Thanks to the bonus seconds awarded for his third place finish, Valjavec now leads Cancellara's teammate Andy Schleck by two seconds in the race's general classification.

Any doubts about Schleck's intentions on the race were dispelled by the fact he pocketed six bonus seconds from the intermediate sprints near the end of the stage.

While Breschel was rewarded by lasting the pace throughout the day after getting into a 27-man breakaway, eventually reduced to nine from the ninth kilometre Tuesday, Saxo Bank will now be expected to throw everything behind Schleck in the race for the yellow jersey.

One of the best climbers in the business, Schleck, 24, won the white jersey for the best placed rider aged under 25 at last year's Tour de France, and this season won the prestigious Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic.

Valjavec, however, is no slouch in the mountains and finished ninth overall in the Tour of Italy last month.

The scene is now set for a thrilling battle between AG2R and Saxo Bank in Wednesday's fifth stage, which includes the climb over the 1,793m high Col de Arlberg at the 141km mark and the 10km long climb to Serfaus.

The Tour of Switzerland is a major warm-up race for the three-week Tour de France, which begins in Monaco on July 4.

© 2009 AFP & BikeRadar

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

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