I typically don't enjoy watching individual time trials in bike races; there's not enough action or drama. And if Fabian Cancellara is in the race, everyone else is racing for second place. That was the case today in the Tour de Suisse. Cancellara won the day handily. However, today's TT was full of excitement and intrigue because, as the last stage in the 8-day tour, the TT had the potential to dramatically alter the final GC standings. Damiano Cunego, who has defended the leader's jersey magnificently through all the mountain stages, is mediocre time-trialist at best. The second and third place riders, Steven Kruijswijk and Frank Schleck, are also not known for their prowess in the "race of truth." Sitting behind all of them in fourth place, however, was the American Levi Leipheimer, among the best TTers in the world.
At the start of the day, many expected that Leipheimer would displace Frank Schleck from third place, and possibly even challenge for second. But Leipheimer had more ambitious plans. When he hit the line at 41:14, just 13 seconds behind Cancellara's winning time, the stage was set for a dramatic conclusion. Already, it was clear that Leipheimer would leapfrog Schleck and Kruijswijk onto the second step of the podium. It only remained to be seen whether Cunego could finish quickly enough to prevent Leipheimer from claiming the final yellow jersey. With less than a kilometer to go, it was still close to call. Cunego needed to finish at 43:12 or under to win the tour. With 500 meters to go, he was giving it all he had, but time was rapidly slipping away. When he crossed the line, the clock read 41:17, and Leipheimer had won the Tour de Suisse.
A great end to what has been a very exciting tour, which was devoid of the usual, dull (until the last 3 kilometers) sprinters' stages. I confess I feel bad for Cunego, who rode a very tough and intelligent race. But even Cunego conceded before Friday's stage that he needed to put more time into Leipheimer before the time trial. He failed to do so, and ended up losing an 8-stage race by 4 seconds. Kudos to Levi.