The fireworks were inevitable in the final kilometers of 218.3km Tour de Suisse Stage 1, from Verbania to Verbier, as the peloton was spread across the road headed into the HC climb to the finish.
The 7.6% average gradient climb, with 11% max ramps, blew apart the peloton quickly when Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank) attacked. He was pulled in, but as the tempo stayed high on the climb, rider after rider popped off the back as a select group formed. Peter Velits, Dario Cataldo and Levi Leipheimer were all ready for the tough finish. Levi Leipheimer showed his form, sticking with the group to the finish. He finished 13th. Cataldo crossed the line 22nd.
"They got a little nervous going up the Verbier," Van Slycke said. "Levi is still suffering a bit coming from altitude. Real power is not yet in the legs, he said, but he feels already better than yesterday. So, he is quite satisfied about his performance. Cataldo, after the Giro, he's suffering a bit as well. He felt good to start the climb, until they had two attacks. He had a little bit of sore legs, but he feels he can do better in the next days. After the Giro, the body gets a little decompressed, a little relaxed. Now, to wake it up again, it hurts a little bit."
Rui Costa (Movistar), meanwhile, took the victory after attacking with John Gadret (Ag2R - La Mondiale) with less than 2km to go, dropping Gadret, and passing Frank Schleck (Radioshack-Nissan) after catching him up the road within the final meters. Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi) was 3rd.