FREIRE TAKES SHORT CUT TO WIN SWISS STAGE
Spain’s Oscar Freire took a shortcut through a roundabout to cheekily snatch victory in the 233-km seventh stage of the Tour of Switzerland from St Moritz to Ascona on Friday.
The three-time world champion hopped across a kerb to take the shortest line before a right turn and his quick thinking gave him a decisive advantage on three breakaway companions and the rapidly closing main peloton.
Italy’s Daniele Bennati lead home the bunch but could only bang his handlebars in anger after finishing three seconds behind Freire.
Spain’s Koldo Gil finished safely in the peloton and so retained the overall race lead before Saturday’s final mountain stage around Ambri and Sunday’s 30-km decisive individual time trial.
“Sometimes you have to try everything to win. I saw a chance, took the shortest route and it helped me win,” Freire told with a smile, knowing he’d taken a very opportunistic win.
“I live in Switzerland, in the town of Mendrisio not far from here, and so I really wanted to win,”
“I knew a breakaway would get away because it was a long stage. I made sure I was in the right move and worked hard to make sure we stay clear. I suppose I was a little bit lucky but I deserved this victory.”
The stage victory was Freire’s fourth win of the 2006 season and boosted his moral before the Tour de France. He has been troubled with injury problems but now seems ready to take on Tom Boonen, Thor Hushovd and Robbie McEwen in the Tour sprints.
McEwen did not contest the sprint in Ascona and headed home to Belgium after the stage for treatment on a swollen left knee. However he is expected to be fit for the start of the Tour de France on July 1.