After several close calls, the Portuguese rider claims his maiden win of the season in an agonic finale for the race's first summit finish - Costa now in yellow after the Blues' 17th success in 2012
Runner-up into a stage of the Tour de Romandie and 3rd overall, 2nd placed in one of the Mallorca Challenge trophies, 3rd at the Queen stage of Algarve, 4th in the GP Indurain… Rui Costa was being neglected a first victory in 2012, but today, the Portuguese rider from Movistar Team found a deserved prize to such big sacrifices in the first road stage of the Tour de Suisse. Costa claimed the day’s honours atop Verbier’s finish, the HC climb closing a long, 218-kilometer route where around twenty riders contest the win with Movistar Team’s Valverde and Costa inside the front. Ahead of them, Fränk Schleck (RNT) always kept a gap of 30 seconds after a move with 6k from the finish, only overcome by Rui -really active through the entire climb- in the final 100 meters, after the Iberian was able to stay away from the group into the final kilometer and make a supreme effort to bridge the 20-second gap still keeping the Luxembourgish in the lead at the flamme rouge.
The differences created at the finish allow Costa, 11 wins in six seasons as a pro rider, seizing control of the yellow leader’s jersey and notching up Movistar Team’s 17th success of the season -with eleven different riders- in an already superb 2012. Close to the Portuguese was Alejandro Valverde, always at the fore and now sitting in 7th spot in the overall classification, not expected to have major changes tomorrow on day three: 195 kilometers from Martigny to Aarberg with two climbs of Category 3 and 4 in the final 25k.
QUOTES Rui Costa: “I hadn’t raced anything since Romandie, and these situations always generate you some doubts. That’s why I attacked so many times on the climb: to see how my rivals were doing, but above all, to know how my feelings were. The fact that Alejandro was behind also made me more free to move, because I knew that, if I couldn’t go away, there was still him. When I attacked for the last time, I saw Schleck was really far and wasn’t really thinking about winning, but my move was strong, I saw myself doing well and getting closer and closer. When I reached him, I took a short breath and attacked because I saw he was really short of energy. This brings massive happiness to me, because this year, winning was being more difficult to me than in previous seasons, and I’m the kind that needs to notch up victories to gain confidence. For the first time in my life I spent some weekS training in high altitude before the Tour, and for the time being, things seem to go well, although the main goal is July. However, this is not exact science, and sometimes you feel stronger when you don’t expect it and viceversa. For me, getting the leader jersey in Switzerland is amazing, but there’s still a long way to go and we must go day by day. I want to dedicate this to my family, my friends and my wife, always at my side, and of course in a day like today, to Mauricio Soler, who won a stage this day in 2011.“