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Tour de Suisse enters day two

The German cyclist, Steffen Wesemann, is wearing the leader's yellow jersey in today's second stage of the Tour de Suisse. The 197 kilometre stage, the longest on this year's tour, takes the riders from Uster to Rheinfelden.

Wesemann’s Telekom team won the team-trial prologue on Tuesday and he and the other Telekom riders will be the ones to beat on the relatively flat course. There are only two climbs and the toughest is less than 400 metres.

Wesemann has an additional incentive to do well as today’s race passes through canton Aargau where he lives with his Swiss girlfriend.

Swiss hopes will be pinned on Markus Zberg and Niki Aebersold, whose Team Radobank finished only five seconds behind Telekom in the time trial. Swiss riders have not even won a stage of the country’s biggest road race since 1997, when Oscar Camenzind briefly wore the leader’s jersey.

Camenzind was in no danger of repeating that feat on Tuesday when his Lampre team finished back in seventh place, two places and four seconds behind Switzerland’s best-placed team, Post Swiss.

Even less lucky was the Italian team, Saeco, led by the Swiss star, Laurent Dufaux. Saeco was led five kilometres off course by one of the official tour motorbikes and will start the second stage more than a minute behind the Telekom riders.

A furious Dufaux said afterwards, “Our rhythm was completely broken. The team’s organisation was utterly destroyed.”

Switzerland’s Phonak team were well adrift of the leaders in sixteenth place, with only the hapless Saeco team finishing behind them.

The new organisers of the Swiss tour have been keen to toughen up this year’s course in an effort to bring it out from the shadow of the sport’s biggest event, the Tour de France. “Longer, further, harder” has been the motto adopted by its director, Marc Biver, whose company, IMG, has taken charge of the race’s financial running.

Tour schedule:

13th June Uster-Uster 24km (team time trials)
14th June Uster-Rheinfelden 197 km
15th June Rheinfelden-Fribourg 182km
16th June Fribourg-Verbier 156km
17th June Sierre-Sierre 30km (individual time trials)
18th June Ulrichen-Ulrichen (Alpine stage)
19th June Locarno-Lugano 171km
20th June Locarno-La Punt 170km
21st June St.Moritz-Arosa 150km
22nd June Herisau-Baden 175km

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR