Luxembourg's Kim Kirchen (Columbia-Highroad) won the 204km Stage 7 of the 2009 Tour of Switzerland from Bad Zurzach to Vallorbe Friday, giving his team five victories in the race so far.
Last year's winner, Czech rider Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) was second over the line and Germany's Peter Velits (Milram) third.
The stage victory by the 2008 Tour de France yellow jersey-wearer adds to the success record by the Columbia team during this event. Tadej Valjavec (Ag2R-La Mondiale) remains in the race lead.
It also represents a return to form for 30-year-old Kirchen, who broke a shoulder bone in a fall during the Tour of California at the beginning of this season.
"It's a great boost to my morale after what happened to me earlier in the season," Kirchen said. "Kreuziger attacked with three kilometres to go, but I waited to see what would happen and then went for it with less than a kilometre to the finish. I know I can go flat out on the pedals for the last 500 metres.
"Fortunately my form's in really good shape now, in time for the Tour de France. I was a little too good early on and faded but this year I hope to be good right to the end of the Tour."
As the Tour of Switzerland enters its concluding phase, a fierce duel is shaping up between Valjavec, Swiss time-trial hero Fabian Cancellara (Saxo-Bank) and Kreuziger.
Cancellara trails Valjavec by just nine seconds, the same margin as the day before, while the Czech is not far behind.
During Saturday's eighth stage to Crans Montana the 28-year-old from Berne must avoid letting the gap increase, while hoping he can gain the necessary edge in Sunday's time trial in Berne to win the race, an important warm-up event before next month's Tour de France.
© 2009 AFP & BikeRadar
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