Tour de Suisse (st. 7)
Portuguese takes resounding win in Tour de Suisse’s Queen stage finish in La Punt, jumps into 2nd overall -just 13 seconds behind Frank (BMC)- with Sunday’s mountain TT still to decide the final outcome
It was a sensational ride from Rui Costa (Movistar Team) in the Queen stage of the 2013 Tour de Suisse, the longest of this year’s Helvetic stagerace over 205km from Meilen to La Punt, with four categorized climbs including the long-feared Albulapass (HC) at more than 2,300 meters above sea level. The Portuguese outsprinted Bauke Mollema (BLA) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC) at the end of an action that started with 4k from the top of the climb, with an attack from Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) breaking the ice and receiving a fast response from the Blue squad’s leader. The four-man leading group, which Rui tried to keep alive with several moves before the crest, went for the fast descent until the finish line with thirty seconds of advantage over a second echelon including Mathias Frank (BMC) and Roman Kreuziger (TST), first and second in the overall standings.
Costa kept pushing into the downhill and initially dropped Pinot before doing the same with Mollema, the Dutchman ultimately bridging for the final meters. An inflatable banner collapsed over the road with 2k remaining made the Blue rider lose precious time -twenty-two seconds was the gap between the two groups at the finish- but did not lessen the ambitions by the 2012 overall title defender, who launched the sprint in the lead and was strong enough to hold off his two rivals.
It is the 14th victory -the second this year, after the one notched up in Amorebieta- for Rui Costa in seven years as professional rider, and also the 17th for Movistar Team this season, an account that might still be increased this week, with the GC in a matter of few seconds before the mixed ITT on Sunday -27km from Bad Ragaz to the Flumserberg summit-. The Portuguese is now in 2nd spot, with Frank ahead by 13 seconds and Kreuziger, Pinot and Mollema just about half a minute behind. Before the showdown will come a day of relative calmness, with 182km between Zernez and Bad Ragaz featuring the Cat-3 Luzisteig in the closing stages.
REACTION / Rui Costa: “Our goal today was taking some seconds on the riders ahead of us in the overall and we didn’t also do it, but we also won the stage, and I’m super happy – it was a pity to lose time with the banner thing. I think we might have lost 10 seconds there and they might become decisive for the overall, but the important thing is that I saw myself strong in view of Sunday’s TT. I had really good legs all over the climb. When the Saxo Bank riders were pushing, I realized Kreuziger asked Roche not to push so strongly. That’s why I knew I had to go full gas as soon as Mollema jumped, because we had to take time for the overall.
I wasn’t really thinking of the stage win, but at the end of the descent, there were 500 meters of flat and a couple of turns that allowed me breathing a bit before the sprint. We’ll try to spend tomorrow’s stage as easy as possible and give it all on Sunday. It’s not only Frank and Kreuziger, but also Mollema, Pinot or even Van Garderen. I know the time trial’s route and it’s a really hard one. The wind might be crucial into the first 15 kilometers, because there’s almost no protection and, should it blow like today, it will be a head one. It’s going to be really demanding. This victory is for all my team-mates, because they did an excellent work not only today, but also during all the race.”