Aitor re-emerges in Switzerland

After a barren start to the season Euskaltel suddenly come into form at just the right time as Aitor

After a barren start to the season Euskaltel suddenly come into form at just the right time as Aitor


A late attack on Saturday's stage carried Aitor Gonzalez within sight of the overall title at the Tour of Switzerland, and the momentum stayed with the Euskaltel rider on Sunday as he won a very tough 100km stage to claim the overall title by just 22 seconds from Michael Rogers. Defending champion Jan Ullrich was a rather more distant having failed to stay with the fastest riders on the final huge climb of the day.

The Basque rider did the damage on the last of three 2,000-metre-plus mountains on the stage, the Furkapass. A small group was not far ahead of the yellow jersey peloton as the climb started, and it was the yellow jersey himself,l Rogers, who made the first concerted effort from the peloton, shedding all but the main contenders including Gonzalez and Ullrich.

Gonzalez then made an effort of his own, to which only Rogers and CSC's Frank Schleck had an answer, but neither of this pair could follow when the 2002 Vuelta winner went again. Gonzalez picked off the former members of the lead group that had disintegrated ahead of the yellow jersey peloton, then pressed on alone, knowing he needed 38 seconds on the line to be sure of winning the title.

His advantage was more than a minute at the summit, and he managed to hang on to most of this on the long descent back into the start town of Ulrichen to take his biggest stage race victory since that Vuelta win three years ago. It also gave his previously struggling team their second ProTour win in eight days after I¤igo Landaluze's success in the Dauphin Libr last weekend.

Stage 9, Ulrichen-Ulrichen

1 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 100km in 3.03.52 (32.76kph)
2 Frank Schleck (Lux) CSC 0.46
3 Daniel Atienza (Spa) Cofidis 0.58
4 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step
5 Chris Horner (USA) Saunier Duval
6 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval
7 Beat Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner 1.42
8 Alexandre Moos (Swi) Phonak
9 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Phonak
10 Koldo Gil (Spa) Liberty Seguros
11 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile

14 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 4.17

Final overall

1 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 33.08.51
2 Rogers 0.22
3 Ullrich 1.36
4 Schleck 1.41
5 Horner 2.02
6 Gil 2.49
7 Zberg 3.47
8 Brad McGee (Aus) Franaise des Jeux 4.13
9 Valjavec 4.28
10 Piepoli 6.01

15 Evans 7.11

- Gerolsteiner's sextet won the other ProTour race that was decided on Sunday, the inaugural team time trial in the Dutch town of Eindhoven. It was the German team's first ProTour success of the season. Unlike several of the other squads, Gerolsteiner fielded a very strong team of six comprising Marcus Fothen, Sven Krauss, Sebastian Lang, Uwe Peschel, Michael Rich and Torsten Schmidt. They were a few seconds down on Phonak's sextet at the first check, but 11 seconds up at the halfway point and just managed to maintain their advantage at the line

1 Gerolsteiner 48.6km in 53.35 (54.4kph)
2 Phonak 0.03
3 CSC 0.24
4 Rabobank 0.51
5 Discovery Channel 0.54
6 Davitamon-Lotto 1.20
7 Domina Vacanze 1.25
8 Illes Balears 1.40
9 Crdit Agricole 1.42
10 Cofidis 1.46

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