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Columbia-Highroad’s Kim Kirchen wins another Suisse stage for the squad.

Luxembourg's Kim Kirchen (Columbia-Highroad) won the seventh stage of the Tour of Switzerland, a 204-kilometer ride from Bad Zurzach to Vallorbe on Friday. Last year's winner, Czech rider Roman Kreuziger, was second over the line and Germany's Linus Gerdemann third. It was the fifth stage win at the Swiss tour for the Columbia team. 2009 Tour de Suisse stages/GC leaders

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By Agence France Presse

2009 Tour de Suisse, stage 7: Kirchen grabs another win for the Columbia-Highroad team.

2009 Tour de Suisse, stage 7: Kirchen grabs another win for the Columbia-Highroad team.

Photo: Graham Watson

Luxembourg’s Kim Kirchen (Columbia-Highroad) won the seventh stage of the Tour of Switzerland, a 204-kilometer ride from Bad Zurzach to Vallorbe on Friday.

Last year’s winner, Czech rider Roman Kreuziger, was second over the line and Germany’s Linus Gerdemann third.

It was the fifth stage win at the Swiss tour for the Columbia team.

2009 Tour de Suisse stages/GC leaders

  • Stage 1: Cancellara (Saxo Bank)/Cancellara
  • Stage 2: Bernhard Eisel (Columbia-Highroad)/Cancellara
  • Stage 3: Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad)/Cancellara
  • Stage 4: Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank)/Tadej Valjavec (AG2R-La Mondiale)
  • Stage 5: Michael Albasini (Columbia-Highroad)/Valjavec
  • Stage 6: Cavendish/Valjavec
  • Stage 7: Kim Kirchen (Columbia-Highroad)/Valjavec

The stage victory by the 2008 Tour de France yellow jersey-holder adds to the success record by the Columbia team during this event.

It also represents a return to form for 30-year-old Kirchen, who broke a shoulder bone in a fall during the Tour of California at the beginning of this season.

“It’s a great boost to my morale after what happened to me earlier in the season,” Kirchen said.

“Kreuziger attacked with three kilometers to go, but I waited to see what would happen and then went for it with less than a kilometer to the finish. I know I can go flat out on the pedals for the last 500 meters.

“Fortunately my form’s in really good shape now, in time for the Tour de France. I was a little too good early on and faded but this year I hope to be good right to the end of the Tour.”

2009 Tour de Suisse, stage 7: Valjavec held the jersey another day.

2009 Tour de Suisse, stage 7: Valjavec held the jersey another day.

Photo: Graham Watson

As the Tour of Switzerland enters its concluding phase, a fierce duel is shaping up between current overall leader Valjavec, Swiss time-trial hero Fabian Cancellara (Saxo-Bank) and Kreuziger.

Cancellara trails Valjavec by just nine seconds, the same margin as the day before, while the Czech is not far behind.

During Saturday’s eighth stage to Crans Montana the 28-year-old from Berne must avoid letting the gap increase, while hoping he can gain the necessary edge in Sunday’s time trial in Berne to win the race, an important warm-up event before next month’s Tour de France.

Photo Gallery

Results

Stage
1. Kim Kirchen (LUX/THR) 4:56:41.
2. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/LIQ) at 0:02.
3. Peter Velits (SVK/MRM) 0:07.
4. Oliver Zaugg (SUI/LIQ) 0:07.
5. Eros Capecchi (ITA/FUJ) 0:07.
6. Fabian Cancellara (SUI/SAX) 0:07.
7. Rui Costa (POR/GCE) 0:07.
8. Vladimir Karpets (RUS/KAT) 0:07.
9. Tony Martin (GER/THR) 0:07.
10. Chris-Anker S0rensen (DEN/SAX) 0:07.

Overall
1. Tadej Valjavec (SLO/ALM) 28:07:15.
2. Fabian Cancellara (SUI/SAX) 0:09.
3. Oliver Zaugg (SUI/LIQ) 0:14.
4. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/LIQ) 0:31.
5. Andreas Kl?den (GER/AST) 0:45.
6. Tony Martin (GER/THR) 0:51.
7. Maxime Monfort (BEL/THR) 0:55.
8. Gustav Erik Larsson (SWE/SAX) 0:56.
9. Vladimir Karpets (RUS/KAT) 1:01.
10. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 1:02.
11. Kim Kirchen (LUX/THR) 1:07.
12. Rein Taaramae (EST/COF) 1:08.
13. Michael Albasini (SUI/THR) 1:28.
14. Andy Schleck (LUX/SAX) 1:41.
15. Chris Anker S?rensen (DEN/SAX) 1:56.