Katusha’s successful season continued with victory for Alexander Kristoff on stage five of the 2013 Tour de Suisse.
The Norwegian sprinted home ahead of stage three winner, Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling), and stage four winner Arnaud Démare.
Kristoff’s victory owed much to the timing of his sprint, begun with just 150 metres remaining on the plateau of Zurzacherberg.
Saxo-Tinkoff’s Matti Breschel had most reason for disappointment after his team-mates had set tempo for him as the stage reached its climax.
The Dane, however, began his assault too early, allowing Kristoff to bide his time and conserve his resources.
Mathias Frank (BMC) continues to lead the race. His 23-second margin over second placed Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) remained unaltered, and defending champion, Rui Costa, could do nothing today to improve on third overall.
An early attack saw a four-man break containing Stijn Devolder (RadioShack-Leopard), Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Cyril Lemoine (Sojasun), and Sébastien Minard (Ag2r-La Mondiale) ride clear before 20km had been covered.
Their lead never exceeded three minutes and with 30km remaining had been reduced to about at third of that.
Cannondale Pro Cycling began to set tempo in a bid to position Sagan, while Tom Boonen’s OPQS troops held station, aware that by contributing to the pursuit they would be ending Pauwels’ chances of victory.
Saxo-Tinkoff hit the front as the remaining climbs of the day – a pair of fourth category slopes – approached. Nico Roche delivered an impressive turn on the front, momentarily splitting the bunch.
The two ‘local’ teams began to assert their authority. BMC, an American-registered team with the backing of a Swiss cycle manufacturer, and IAM Cycling, a Swiss-registered Pro Continental squad, moved to the front.
Euskaltel-Euskadi’s Jorge Azanza seized his chance on the final climb of the day, the categeory four Zurzacherberg, but his advantage was short lived, and terminated by Thomas Lovkvist (IAM Cycling).
As the peloton passed under the 10km to go kite, BMC again hit the front, but were quickly supplanted by the advancing sprint trains of Démare’s FDJ outfit, Sagan’s Cannondale team, and Orica GreenEDGE, riding for Matt Goss.
Roman Kreuziger, second overall and a contender for the final general classification, turned domestique five kilometres from home, raising the pace to prevent attacks that could end the hopes of Saxo-Tinkoff’s sprinter, Daniele Bennati.
Katusha and Kristoff, however, had the last laugh, as has been the case so often this season. The Norwegian opted for positioning over strength, preventing the likes of Sagan from gaining an advantage in the final corner and riding to victory.
Tour de Suisse 2013: stage five – result
1) Alexander Kristoff (NOR) – Katusha – 4.08.29
2) Peter Sagan (SLO) – Cannondale Pro Cycling – ST
3) Arnaud Demare (FDJ)
4) Matti Breschel (DEN) – Saxo-Tinkoff
5) Heinrich Haussier (AUS) – IAM Cycling
6) Matt Goss (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE
7) Davide Cimolai (ITA) – Lampre-Merida
8) Jacopo Guarnieri (ITA) – Astana
9) Boy Van Poppel (NED) – Vacansoleil-DCM
10) Daryl Impey (RSA) – Orica-GreenEDGE
1) Mathias Frank (SUI) – BMC Racing – 15.56.30
2) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) – Saxo-Tinkoff +23″
3) Rui Costa (POR) – Movistar +35″
4) Thibaut Pinot (FRA) – FDJ +57″
5) Bauke Mollema (NED) – Blanco Pro Cycling +1.08
6) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Garmin-Sharp
7) Tanel Kangert (EST) – Astana +1.26
8) Jean-Christophe Peraud (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +1.28
9) Tejay Van Garderent (USA) – BMC Racing +1.39
10) Cameron Meyer (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE