It was a thrilling day in the 2011 Tour de Suisse as the third stage, the second consecutive one into the big mountains, was a difficult exam for all Movistar Team riders, which saw the 107km route from Brig to Grindelwald –with the climbs of Grimselpass (Cat. 1) and Grosse Scheidegg (HC)- becoming the place for a carousel of attacks in search for the yellow jersey worn by Mauricio Soler.
The telephone squad and the race leader defended their prize with honor and were able to save a difficult situation after thirty riders -Samoilau and Rojas included- broke apart in the 15th kilometer of the stage. The breakaway, which got split into the first climb, forced Movistar Team to push with all their helpers at Soler’s service to bridge the gap by the escapees, which went up to no less than four minutes. At the final uphill, Cunego (LAM) launched a strong attack contested by Soler, who would eventually get left between the Italian and the short favourites’ group all over the climb. The 2nd placed overall reached the last members of the break at the summit and opened the gap with Soler’s group into the descent, the Colombian going brave to keep his GC chances as he sits now in 2nd, just under a minute behind Cunego. A more calm stage awaits tomorrow: 198km between Grindenwald and Huttwill, yet including two Cat. 3 climbs in the finale.
José Luis Jaimerena (Sports Director): “It was a really difficult stage for us to control it from the very start. Right from the beginning, the roads were uphill and escapes could only be built by strength. We managed to get Rojas and Samoilau there, which were our best placed riders in the GC, but the hard route and the good riders into the break made us hard to stay calm, although Lampre cooperated with us behind. All the lads have been where they were expected to, working hard, specially Lastras, in a place he’s not supposed to be, doing a tremendous duty on the last climb as only fifteen riders were into the bunch. Soler tried to go after Cunego and had him really close, but the italian was out of this world today. The plan was that Samoilau could summit before Soler to help him out, because stopping him on the uphill wouldn’t have been really useful, you could see it when Soler reached him; he could only push for a few meters. Mauricio was good, really good I would say, because only Cunego was better than him, and that’s my overview. Evidently, we would have liked to stay into the lead and we did work for that, but we have to stay positive and this might do good for us into the next stages, because working for two or three days on these routes can destroy your stamina. There’s a lot coming up and we will keep searching out options, not only in the GC with Soler, but also on stages”.