Frustrating finish for Lofkvist
Swede finishes as top Team Sky man in Switzerland
Last Updated: 17/06/12 6:31pm
Thomas Lofkvist: finished 17th in Switzerland
Team Sky's Thomas Löfkvist battled through the pain of a knee injury as he took 17th place on the general classification at the Tour de Suisse.
The Swede had been 11th heading into Sunday's final stage, which covered a 215.8km route from Näfels-Lintharena to a summit finish in Sörenberg and included the hors category climbs of the Glaubenbielen and Glaubenberg.
Löfkvist was well placed going into the final climb but his injury forced him to drop back and he drew on the support of team-mates Michael Barry and Lars-Petter Nordhaug to cross the finish line eight minutes behind stage winner Tanel Kangert (Astana).
"It looked good with Thomas until the last climb but he's just been struggling a bit with a knee problem and it was really hurting today," explained Team Sky's Sports Director Marcus Ljungqvist.
"He was disappointed not to be able to follow - he had to let go of the group because of that.
"Then Michael and Lars-Petter did a really good job in the end trying to get him back but he couldn't manage it.
"Before that the rest of the team did exactly what was asked of them; it's just a real shame for Thomas and I feel sorry for him because he is in really good shape. He thought it was okay for today but it was too painful and it kind of stopped him. That's sport I guess."
The Swede's efforts throughout the nine-day race made him the leading Team Sky rider in 17th overall, closely followed by Barry in 24th.
Overnight leader Rui Costa (Movistar) was able to repel several attacks to claim victory in the GC, while Kangert turned his role in an early breakaway into eventual stage honours.
Costa came under pressure from Fränk Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan), who he led by 14 seconds at the start of the day, on the Glaubenberg.
Schleck went clear and crested the summit alone with an advantage of around a minute but was caught on the descent as all of the main contenders came back together.
Further up the road the remnants of an early five-man escapse were left to fight it out for the stage win, Kangert taking the honours in a two-way chase to the line with Jérémy Roy (FDJ-Big Mat).
Ljungqvist felt there were plenty of positives for Team Sky to take from the nine-day race, including a second place for Ben Swift on stage six and a third for neo-pro Salvatore Puccio on stage five.
"There are some tired legs here - it's been a hard week but today was especially tough," said Ljungqvist.
"Swifty was really close to winning stage six but (Peter) Sagan on that sort of form was incredibly difficult to beat. It was really nice to see him up there - and on stage three - while Puccio also took a third place.
"As a team the guys have been riding really well through the race and deserved a win but it wasn't to be this time."