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Zülle holds firm as leader of the pack

The pack with overall leader Alex Zülle (centre in yellow) pushes over the Furka pass

(Keystone)

Local favourite Alex Zülle is still the overall leader of the Tour de Suisse after the fifth, and most challenging stage of the race.

Zülle's team finished third in the stage, dubbed the "king of all climbs", as the cyclists raced over 147.7 kilometres of mountain terrain around Meiringen and tackled the Susten, Grimsel and Furka passes.

Italy's Francesco Casagrande finished as stage leader, braving withering heat in the sweltering Alpine foothills and exhausting climbs of up to 937 metres.

He clocked a time of 4 hours 37 minutes and 35 seconds earning himself a 16 second bonus.

Casagrande's victory, however, was cold comfort following his disappointment after being kicked out of the recent Giro d'Italia, which he was tipped to win, for causing Colombian champion John Freddy Garcia to fall in the 15th stage.

Moos in second

Switzerland's Alexandre Moos came second, clocking the same time as Casagrande and earning himself a ten second bonus.

A group of nine riders including Zuelle and Russian mountain king Pavel Tonkov finished 15 seconds behind.

The main casualty of the day was the Tour de Suisse second favourite, Kazakhstan's Alexander Vinokourov, who arrived 19 minutes after Casagrande, following a crash on the last descent, coming down from the Susten pass.

As a result Vinokourov bombed from second to third place in the overall ranking, behind Laurent Dufaux and Alex Zülle, both from Switzerland.

swissinfo with agencies


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