Fränk Schleck produced an outstanding time trial for his measures, losing only five seconds to Lance Armstrong in the final 27km race against the clock in Liestal. It is debatable whether Schleck produced the ride of the day, or Tony Martin, who beat Fabian Cancellara by 17 seconds over the wet roads in another rainy day in Switzerland. Armstrong finished the week-long tour second overall, 12 seconds behind Schleck.
Beating Cancellara in a time trial is not evident. "I wasn't really expecting this," Martin said afterwards. "I've not been feeling so good in the last two or three days. It's been very cold and rainy here in Switzerland and I didn't think I had much of a chance today. But I was very motivated, I really wanted to put up a good fight for it, and I think the second half of the stage was where I gained most time on my rivals."
Already the winner of the Tour of California's time trial stage this year, Martin said that the Suisse course was very similar. "It was more or less the same, not too many corners and big roads. You didn't have to brake or accelerate too hard, and you could keep a steady pace. That suited me. I lost a little bit of time on the first half of the course, up to the summit of the climb, but saving some energy was the perfect tactic because then I could go full gas in the second half."
After leading the Tour de Suisse during the first half of the race and then taking the final stage, Martin says he is feeling optimistic about his chances in the German National Time Trial Championships next week. "I've heard it's an undulating course, a bit like today's time trial. I'll be focussing on that really hard from now on."
Schleck surprises all, even himself
Before the race, everybody was expecting a mano a mano between Robert Gesink and Lance Armstrong, but Schleck came out winning. "I was a little bit surprised myself that it went so well but the good thing about being on the same team as Fabian Cancellara is that you get to know a trick or two about time trialing and he said I could pull it off before the stage."
Even when victorious Schleck thought about one of his fellow competitors. "Winning here so close to the Tour de France means a lot to me but my thoughts go to Kim Kirchen and his family, who are having a hard time right now," said Schleck. Kirchen had to leave the race due to heart problems.
Armstrong lost the overall race by only 12 seconds, but was gracious in defeat. On his twitter account he wrote "Congrats to [Fränk Schleck] on his win here. Great rider, great friend, and rode a helluva TT today."
Gesink lost only the 55-second advantage over Armstrong, but also dropped to fifth place overall, tied on time with stage winner Martin. "Annoying, yes. I would have loved to win here," Gesink said to Dutch television after the stage. "But now I just have to hang on to the queen stage, where I rode away from all the big names. That gives me confidence for the Tour."
O'Grady kicks off exciting time trial
Stuart O'Grady kicked off the final stage of the 2010 Tour de Suisse, with Lieuwe Westra of the Vacansoleil team set a first good mark with 34:38. McCartney improved that by 20 seconds, but was dislodged by Thor Hushovd. The Norwegian was 30 seconds faster than McCartney. Brett Lancaster, a specialist in the time trial, was unable to go past his teammate Hushovd.
But all this was just the prelude. Fabian Cancellara stormed to a new best time of 32'38. He was closely followed by David Zabriskie. The American still had the better intermediate time versus Cancellara, but was behind the big Swiss rider by the time he reached the line. Tony Martin, however, did not come up short, beating Cancellara by 17 seconds.
This was the winning ride, but Schleck's 'loss' was good enough for the overall win. Lance Armstrong was a minute behind Martin in the end and unable to make up the crucial time to Gesink.
Stage nine results, TT 26.9km
1 Tony Martin (HTC - Columbia) 32'21
2 Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) 0'17
3 David Zabriskie (Garmin - Transitions) 0'29
4 Gustav Erik Larsson (Saxo Bank) 0'48
5 Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack)
6 Andreas Klöden (RadioShack) 0'52
7 Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank)
8 Maxime Monfort (HTC - Columbia) 0'57
9 Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil) 1'02
10 Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) 1'07
11 Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) 1'09
12 Nicolas Castroviejo (Euskaltel - Euskadi) 1'14
13 Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank)
14 Alessandro Ballan (BMC) 1'20
15 Jérémy Roy (Française des Jeux) 1'21
Final overall standings
1 Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank)
2 Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) 0'12
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) 0'17
4 Steve Morabito (BMC) 0'23
5 Tony Martin (HTC) 0'27