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Kirchen takes the lead of the Tour de Suisse after winning the sixth stage.

Luxembourg's Kim Kirchen, riding for the High Road team, surged into the overall lead of the Tour of Switzerland after winning the sixth stage on Thursday. [nid:78578] The stage was a 188km race from Ambri to Verbier, punctuated by two major climbs, the hors categorie Nufenenpass early in the race and the Category 1 finishing climb to Verbier.

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2008 Tour de Suisse, stage 6: Kirchen wins

2008 Tour de Suisse, stage 6: Kirchen wins

Photo: Graham Watson

Luxembourg’s Kim Kirchen, riding for the High Road team, surged into the overall lead of the Tour of Switzerland after winning the sixth stage on Thursday.

2008 Tour de Suisse, stage 6: Schleck and Kreuziger

2008 Tour de Suisse, stage 6: Schleck and Kreuziger

Photo: Graham Watson

The stage was a 188km race from Ambri to Verbier, punctuated by two major climbs, the hors categorie Nufenenpass early in the race and the Category 1 finishing climb to Verbier.

Euskaltel’s Igor Anton, who held the overall lead by just six seconds over Kirchen at the start of the day, was dropped in the final kilometer of the uphill finish. In the final meters, Kirchen shed the four riders with him in the lead group and took the stage and the overall lead.

2008 Tour de Suisse, stage 6: Nufen Pass

2008 Tour de Suisse, stage 6: Nufen Pass

Photo: Graham Watson

Kirchen said that his win in the Fleche Wallone this April “has acted as a huge confidence booster.”

“Fleche has given me the motivation I need to shift up a level and start winning stages like here in Switzerland.”

Kirchen showed his strength and composure in the tough Verbier climb, taking control of the race with 200 meters left to beat Andreas Kloden (Astana) and the young Czech Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas).

The 29-year-old Kirchen, who notched up his 15th professional victory, now leads the GC 27 seconds in front of Kreuziger and 33 seconds ahead of Spain’s Igor Anton (Euskaltel).

Kirchen is proving his versatility — coming second in Saturday’s first stage with a good sprint finish, while placing third in Sunday’s high-altitude climb.

Maxim Iglinsky (Astana) was the first to attack but was quickly closed down by a nine-man group led by Switzerland’s David Loosli.

On the downward slope of Martigny that group increased to ten as Maarten Tjallingii of The Netherlands joined before an explosive last 20km.

Mathias Frank (Gerolsteiner) and Philip Deignan (AG2R) tried their luck on the Verbier rise, opening up a two-minute gap on the peloton.

But with 5km left Frank Schleck and Belgian Stijn Devolder made up the ground to ensure a close finish.

But it was Kirchen, keeping calm until the last stages of the race, who showed good leg power to finish the strongest.

Stage Top-20
1. Kim Kirchen (Lux), High Road-Columbia, 5:29:23 (34.264kph)
2. Andreas Kloden (G), Astana, same time
3. Roman Kreuziger (Cz), Liquigas, at 0:06
4. Sergei Ivanov (Rus), Astana, at 0:12
5. Stijn Devolder (B), Quick Step, at 0:20
6. Andy Schleck (Lux), CSC, at 0:20
7. Thomas Lovkvist (S), High Road-Columbia, at 0:27
8. Igor Anton Hernandez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:29
9. Damiano Cunego (I), Lampre, at 0:31
10. Markus Fothen (G), Gerolsteiner, at 0:31
11. Christian Knees (G), Milram, at 0:38
12. Laurens Ten Dam (Nl), Rabobank, at 0:38
13. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:49
14. Oliver Zaugg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, at 0:51
15. Alexandre Moos (Swi), BMC, at 0:51
16. Michael Albasini (Swi), Liquigas, at 0:51
17. Jesus Del Nero Montes (Sp), Saunier Duval-Scott, at 0:51
18. Tanel Kangert (Est), AG2R La Mondiale, at 1:05
19. Pietro Caucchioli (I), Crédit Agricole, at 1:30
20. Maarten Tjallingii (Nl), Silence-Lotto, at 1:30

Full Stage 6 results (pdf)

Top-10 Overall, after Stage 6
Top-10 Overall, after Stage 6
1. Kim Kirchen (Lux), High Road-Columbia 26:54:31
2. Roman Kreuziger (Cz), Liquigas, at 0:27
3. Igor Anton Hernandez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:33
4. Stijn Devolder (B), Quick Step, at 0:46
5. Thomas Lovkvist (S), High Road-Columbia, at 0:56
6. Andreas Kloden (G), Astana, at 0:58
7. Andy Schleck (Lux), CSC, at 1:04
8. Sergei Ivanov (Rus), Astana, at 1:06
9. Markus Fothen (G), Gerolsteiner, at 1:06
10. Oliver Zaugg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, at 1:13

Full GC after stage 6 (pdf)

Photo Gallery

Results

Stage Top-20
1. Kim Kirchen (Lux), High Road-Columbia, 5:29:23 (34.264kph)
2. Andreas Kloden (G), Astana, same time
3. Roman Kreuziger (Cz), Liquigas, at 0:06
4. Sergei Ivanov (Rus), Astana, at 0:12
5. Stijn Devolder (B), Quick Step, at 0:20
6. Andy Schleck (Lux), CSC, at 0:20
7. Thomas Lovkvist (S), High Road-Columbia, at 0:27
8. Igor Anton Hernandez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:29
9. Damiano Cunego (I), Lampre, at 0:31
10. Markus Fothen (G), Gerolsteiner, at 0:31
11. Christian Knees (G), Milram, at 0:38
12. Laurens Ten Dam (Nl), Rabobank, at 0:38
13. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:49
14. Oliver Zaugg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, at 0:51
15. Alexandre Moos (Swi), BMC, at 0:51
16. Michael Albasini (Swi), Liquigas, at 0:51
17. Jesus Del Nero Montes (Sp), Saunier Duval-Scott, at 0:51
18. Tanel Kangert (Est), AG2R La Mondiale, at 1:05
19. Pietro Caucchioli (I), Crédit Agricole, at 1:30
20. Maarten Tjallingii (Nl), Silence-Lotto, at 1:30

Full Stage 6 results (pdf)

Top-10 Overall, after Stage 6
Top-10 Overall, after Stage 6
1. Kim Kirchen (Lux), High Road-Columbia 26:54:31
2. Roman Kreuziger (Cz), Liquigas, at 0:27
3. Igor Anton Hernandez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 0:33
4. Stijn Devolder (B), Quick Step, at 0:46
5. Thomas Lovkvist (S), High Road-Columbia, at 0:56
6. Andreas Kloden (G), Astana, at 0:58
7. Andy Schleck (Lux), CSC, at 1:04
8. Sergei Ivanov (Rus), Astana, at 1:06
9. Markus Fothen (G), Gerolsteiner, at 1:06
10. Oliver Zaugg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, at 1:13

Full GC after stage 6 (pdf)