Rui Costa in the yellow jersey leads the Tour de Suisse

It was an exciting finish to the 76th edition of the Tour de Suisse on Sunday. The race leader, Rui Costa (a Portugese rider for the Spanish team, Movistar) had a 14 second lead over Luxembourger rider Frank Schleck. The 9th and final stage featured two HC climbs, and on the first one, Scheck attacked, going solo off the front and putting over a minute between himself and the rest of the peloton as he reached the summit. He was not able to hang on to this lead, however, and was been caught by the other riders before the second HC climb of the day. Schleck was not able to make up any time on Costa throughout the remainder of the race. So Costa, leader going in to the final stage, hung on to the lead and finished first overall, Schleck finished second, and American rider, Levi Leipheimer finished third. Robert Gesink, winner of the Amgen Tour of California just last month, came 4th.

Costa led the race from the second stage. As we mentioned a couple weeks ago, that second stage ended on an HC climb, and Costa gained enough of a lead on there that he never relinquished. Although not a time trialing specialist, he had enough distance between himself and stronger time trialists to hold on to the yellow jersey through the Stage 7 time trial. Costa nearly lost the jersey to Schleck on stage 8, but held on on the final day of racing to become the first Portuguese rider to win the Tour de Suisse.

These June races are of great importance for riders. It helps them work up fitness for the Tour de France, and to gauge how their competitors are riding. The next big event on the cycling calendar is the Tour de France, which starts June 30.

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