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Roche in top flight with stage winning bid

Posted 14 June 2010

Nicolas Roche made a valiant attempt to win today’s third stage of the Tour de Suisse surging clear on the finishing climb only to be overhauled by Frank Schleck who sealed the stage win inside the final kilometre.

Roche’s explosive attack took him to within 1,300 metres of winning the stage with his persistence continuing all the way to the finish before he was forced to settle for ninth place.

The AG2R La Mondiale rider bided his time perfectly over the tough 30 kilometre finishing circuit in Schwarzenburg where a series of attacks and counter attacks reduced to front group to sixty riders.

The race blew itself part on the third category climb of the Kalchstatten where a three-man break of Alexandre Pliuschin (Katusha), Jussi Veikkanen (Francaise des Jeux) and Ermano Cappeli (Footon-Servetto) came undone after more than 100 kilometres in front.

Pliuschin survived the climb with an 11 second lead but was swallowed up on the undulating 22 kilometre stretch to the finish where Michael Albasini (HTC Columbia) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d’Epargne) each tried and failed to stay clear.

The lead group came back together for the third time with just five kilometres to go with all present focused on the sharp rise to the finish which they had climbed previously on the run into the finishing circuit.

Tony Martin (HTC Columbia) applied the pressure at the base of the climb opening up a narrow advantage before Schleck bridged across with Roche fighting quickly for his wheel.

The Irishman maintained his momentum as he made contact, rounding Schleck and kicking for home inside the final two kilometres. Schleck replied but Roche was unable to sustain his effort as they came within sight of the red one kilometre to go kite.

Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d’Epargne) took up the effort to close down Schleck with Roche slipping into the splintered chasing group. The AG2R man surged again for third place but his previous bursts left him short of the firepower he needed to hold out inside the final 250 metres.  

Roche's efforts were rewarded with another move up the GC where he now lies 11th overall just 18 seconds behind new race leader Tony Martin (HTC Columbia).

“I got a bit carried away too early today.  I maybe missing a bit of power but it’s great to know I’m totally over the injury. There will be more chances,” Roche said after the race.

His confidence will be further boosted heading in the remaining stages by today’s announcement that he has been selected for the AG2R La Mondiale Tour de France team. 

Philip Deignan (Cervelo) meanwhile rode strongly with the Cervelo Test Team to cut the eight minute advantage that the breakaway enjoyed heading into the final 60 kilometres with their efforts putting Heinrich Haussler back into contention for the stage.

The Donegal man lost contact with the front group following the succession of attacks and rapid tempo over the Kalchstatten and finished the stage 10:05 down with his efforts having helped Haussler to finish in the front group just 38 seconds behind Schleck. Deignan has dropped to 103rd in the GC and is now 13:48 behind Martin.

Result:

Stage 3: Sierre-Schwarzenburg, 196.6 kilometres

1.  Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) 5 hours, 02 minutes, 21 seconds
2.  Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d'Epargne)
3.  Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) at 0:00:03 seconds
4.  Steve Morabito (BMC Racing)
5.  Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil)
6.  Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank)
7.  Robert Gesink (Rabobank )
8.  Thomas Lövkvist (Team Sky)
9.  Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale)
10. Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) same time

9. Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) at 3 seconds
140. Philip Deignan (Cervelo Test Team) at 10 minutes, 05 seconds

General classification after stage 3:

1.  Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) 9 hours, 38 minutes, 04 seconds
2.  Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) at 0:00:01 second
3.  Thomas Lövkvist (Team Sky) 0:00:09
4.  Rigoberto Uran (Caisse d'Epargne) at 0:00:10
5.  Dries Devenyns (Quick Step) at 0:0:11 seconds
6.  Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) at 0:0:13 seconds
7.  Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) at 0:0:14 seconds
8.  Steve Morabito (BMC Racing Team) at 0:0:14 seconds
9.  Jonathan Castro Viejo (Euskaltel–Euskadi) at 0:0:15 seconds
10.  Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) at 0:0:17 seconds

11. Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) at 18 seconds
103. Philip Deignan (Cervelo Test Team) at 13 minutes, 48 seconds

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