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The second mountain stage of the Tour of Switzerland resulted in some significant rejigging of the overall positions, as USA's Chris Horner won the day in Arosa and boosted himself up to sixth place on GC, while third place for Quick Step's Michael Rogers moved the Australian into the leader's yellow jersey at Jan Ullrich's expense.
The action started early in the stage with the long climb of the 2,000-metre-plus Oberalp, where Iban Mayo was one of half a dozen riders who pulled clear of the main peloton. The Basque seemed to be doing no more than testing himself with a certain future target in mind, which was backed up by the way he played the support role to Euskaltel team-mate Robert Laiseka, who was another of the six.
Most of the members of this break were overhauled soon after the start of the final climb to Arosa, but Cofidis' Daniel Atienza hung on, and was joined by Horner (Saunier Duval), new pro Vincenzo Nibali (Fassa Bortolo) and Joanthan Gonzalez (Illes Balears). As first Horner and then the surprisingly strong Nibali attacked from the lead group, Atienza finally fell away.
With the final climb about 25km long, Nibali persisted with his attack with most of that still remaining, but the more experienced Horner and Gonzalez began to gradually peg the youngster back. Behind this trio, with 20km remaining Rogers tried to get clear of the yellow jersey group but was himself pegged back by Ullrich and team-mate Giuseppe Guerini.
As the climb switched from fairly steep to more of a false flat, Horner made it across to Nibali and the pair worked to cement their advantage. Eventually, though, Nibali began to run out of steam as the American urged him to come through, and Horner pressed on alone with 8 k left.
As more urgent attacks came from the yellow jersey group behind, with Jens Voigt, Aitor Gonzalez, Koldo Gil, Leonardo Piepoli and Fabian Jeker among those getting clear of Ullrich and his T-Mobile guard, Horner's advantage was chipped away. But at the finish the Saunier rider still had more than a minute in hand on the precocious Nibali, who finished a couple of seconds clear of yellow-jersey-chasing Rogers.
Friday's stage to Lenk features just two low category climbs, and the key action is almost certain to take place in this weekend's two mountain stages.
Stage 6, Burglen-Arosa
1 Chris Horner (USA) Saunier Duval-Prodir 154.8km in 4.24.43 (35.99kph)
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 1.12
3 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step 1.14
4 Frank Schleck (Lux) CSC
5 Koldo Gil (Spa) Liberty Seguros
6 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Phonak
7 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Saunier Duval
8 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel
9 Fabian Jeker (Swi) Saunier Duval
10 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile 1.48
11 Brad McGee (Aus) Franaise des Jeux
15 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
1 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick Step-Innergetic 21.28.40
2 Ullrich 0.20
3 McGee 0.22
4 Jeker 1.11
5 Schleck 1.27
6 Horner 1.31
7 Aitor Gonzalez 1.38
8 Valjavec 1.39
9 Gil 1.42
10 Beat Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner 1.57
13 Evans 2.22
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