German rider Marcus Burghardt (BMC) collected his second win of the Tour of Switzerland when he won the seventh stage between Savognin and Wetzikon on Friday.
Burghardt, who took the fifth stage on Wednesday, finished on his own some 55 seconds ahead of Oscar Freire, Greg van Avermaet and Manuel Quinziato, three of 15 riders who took off in a morning breakaway.
Dutchman Robert Gesink (Rabobank), who finished in the peloton five minutes behind, keeps the leader's yellow jersey. He is 29 seconds ahead of Spaniard Rigoberto Uran and 36 in front of the Swiss Steve Morabito.
Burghardt, a stage winner in the Tour de France two years ago, was part of a group that broke away 62km into the race.
In the wind and rain they made good progress over the next 80km, opening up a five-minute lead over the peloton before Burghardt broke decisively for home 60km from the finish.
"It wasn't my idea to attack from so far out," he said. "I tried to move things along a bit but nobody reacted and suddenly I found myself out in front on my own."
The chasing group chased him hard and Burghardt, who has lived in Switzerland for the last three years, admitted that he "suffered a lot in the last few kilometres".
But he kept up the pace and crossed the line waving a German flag that he had taken from a spectator.
Spain's Freire of Rabobank came in second, just over a minute behind the German. Belgium's Van Avermaet (Omega Pharma-Lotto) finished third.
"At the start it was hard work because there was a lot of movement," said Gesink, who maintained his position atop the general classification.
"Once the front group had escaped, it was pretty quiet because we could control the race. At the start the weather was quite nice but then a lot of people were complaining about how cold it was. But my team-mates weren't cold because they were working."
Uran (Caisse d'Espagne) and Morabito (BMC) are the closest to Gesink but the Dutchman says the American Lance Armstrong (RadioShack), 55 seconds back in seventh, is the biggest threat to the yellow jersey.
"Armstrong is the most dangerous but before the time-trial there is a stage tomorrow (Saturday) with 2,500 metres difference in altitude. So first I must defend the yellow jersey."
Armstrong, in his last race before launching his effort to snatch an eighth Tour de France title, was content with his performance.
"I am feeling good even if there was rain and it was cold," said the 38-year-old.
The eighth stage on Saturday sees the peloton travel the 172km between Wetzikon and Liestal. It ends with a time-trial on Sunday.
© AFP 2010
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