Predictor-Lotto’s sprinting ace Robbie McEwen snagged stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse, finishing in front of Italian Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) and German Erik Zabel (Milram) in the 192.8-kilometer stage from Vauz to Giubiasco. Team CSC’s Frank Schleck remains in yellow to lead the race another day.
Breakaway companions Laurens Ten Dam (Unibet.com) and Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval-Prodir) dominated the stage, before being caught on the 17kilometer-long climb to the Lukmanierspass. Bertogliati dropped back and later was swept up by chasers. Ten Dam continued his quest for finish-line glory, building a lead of nine minutes before getting caught by the Milram and Lampre trains storming toward Giubiasco, leading out stallions Zabel and Bennati.
This time Zabel didn’t manage to pass his competitors in the sprint. McEwen and Bennati were faster at the home stretch, relegating Zabel to third.
“I was at Bennati’s wheel, but I was not strong enough to pass him,” Zabel said. “We had wind from behind, so it was difficult to pass both,” the Tour de Suisse’s stage 2 winner added.
Schleck played it well today, understanding the sprinters would be hungry for victory after Tuesday’s mountainous stage.
“It was a perfect day for us,” Team CSC’s director Kim Andersen said. “We didn’t have to work very hard thanks to the sprinter teams seeing this as their last chance to get a victory. This suited us fine after our hard work yesterday and we’ll probably have a tough day tomorrow as well.”
On Thursday the peloton will tackle the sixth stage from Giubiasco to Crans Montana. A climb finale is waiting after 190 kilometers.
1 Robbie McEwen (Aus, Predictor-Lotto) 4:55:39 (39.127kph)
2 Daniele Bennati (Ita, Lampre-Fondital)
3 Erik Zabel (Ger, Milram)
4 Murilo Fischer (Bra, Liquigas)
5 Cristian Moreni (Ita, Cofidis)
6 Gregory Rast (Swi, Astana)
7 Marcus Burghardt (Ger, T-Mobile)
8 David Kopp (Ger, Gerolsteiner)
9 Martin Elmiger (Swi, Ag2r Prevoyance)
10 Sebastien Hinault (Fra, Credit Agricole)
Overall classification after stage 5
1. Frank Schleck (Lux, Team CSC) 19:28:03 (38.505kph)
2. Vladimir Efimkin (Rus, Caisse d’Epargne) 00:00:49
3. Kim Kirchen (Lux, T-Mobile)
4. Jose Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa, Saunier Duval-Prodir) 00:00:58
5. Matteo Carrara (Ita, Unibet.com) 00:01:05
6. Vladimir Karpets (Rus, Caisse d’Epargne) 00:01:19
7. Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa, Bouygues Telecom) 00:01:39
8. Damiano Cunego (Ita, Lampre-Fondital) 00:01:46
9. Stijn Devolder (Bel, Discovery Channel) 00:02:03
10. Gilberto Simoni (Ita, Saunier Duval-Prodir) 00:02:06