Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing) won the seventh stage of the Tour de Suisse between Savognin and Wetzikon in a solo breakaway. The 26-year-old German attacked the rest of a breakaway group with 55km of the rolling stage still to ride and had enough time in hand to celebrate his victory, waving a German flag as he crossed the line.
The breakaway group was led home by Oscar Freire (Rabobank), beating Greg Van Avermaet (OmegaPharma-Lotto) and Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas-Doimo) in the sprint for second.
"To race more than 50 kilometres alone is not easy," said Burghardt afterwards. "But I was so motivated. I thought if I couldn't make it, for sure Mathias [Frank] could make it.
"It was nice not only for me but for our team," he said of Swiss bike company sponsored BMC Racing. "All the guys were helping me in the beginning and then Mathias was helping me in the break."
After yesterday’s tough alpine stage it was no surprise that the peloton allowed a breakaway to succeed, especially with wet weather returning to the race. It took a long time for the right combination of riders to escape though and it wasn’t until almost 60km into the 204km stage that a group of 16 got away.
The successful group was made up of: Burghardt, Freire, Van Avermaet, Quinziato, Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank), Aliaksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas-Doimo), Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana), Mark Renshaw (HTC-Columbia), Mathias Frank (BMC Racing), Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d’Epargne), Tom Leezer (Rabobank), Daniel Sesma (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Jurgen Van de Walle (Quick Step), Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky), Matthew Wilson (Garmin-Transitions) and Michal Golas (Vacansoleil).
The group quickly built up a lead of more than five minutes, but with Flecha the best placed at just 8’24” behind race leader Robert Gesink (Rabobank) they were allowed no more than that.
With 55km still to go, on the approach to the 3rd category climb of the Hulftegg, Burghardt made his move and none of the others was able to follow. Behind the German the rest of the group split into several pieces with Luis Leon Sanchez leading the chase.
After crossing the finish line to start the 21.5km finishing circuit, the first chasing group of Sanchez, Freire, Van Avermaet, Quinziato and Frank, was 1’11” behind Burghardt. Frank, the BMC rider was sitting on the back though, not chasing his teammate up the road. Behind them the next group was made up of most of the rest, but at more than 3 minutes behind their race was over. The peloton crossed the line 7’14” behind Burghardt, but Flecha was in the second group and so no longer a worry to Gesink.
Despite the best efforts of the chasers, who were mostly sprinters on a hilly circuit, they were not able to make any progress in closing the gap to Burghardt. As he entered the finishing straight he produced a yellow, red and black German flag and held it over his head as he crossed the line.
As the chase group approached the finish, Quinziato started his sprint from a long way out. He had no answer though when three-time World champion cruised past and faded to allow Van Avermaet past too. Flecha led the next group in more than 3 minutes behind Burghardt, and Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil) led the peloton home at exactly 5 minutes.
Robert Gesink finished safely in the peloton and holds on to the race lead with just two stages to go.
Result stage 7 1. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing
2. Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank@ 1’01”
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) OmegaPharma-Lotto
4. Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
5. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne @ 1’08”
6. Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing
7. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Team Sky @ 3’24”
8. Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank @ 3’28”
9. Michal Golas (Pol) Vacansoleil
10. Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Quick Step
Standings after stage 7 1. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank
2. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d’Epargne @ 29s
3. Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team @ 36s
4. Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank @ 38s
5. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha @ 42s