Route du Sud (st. 1) / Baku Games TT / Suisse (st. 5)
Solid Movistar Team protects Nairo Quintana into fought stage one in the Route du Sud. 9th place for Jesús Herrada in European Games’ TT
Up to three races saw Movistar Team riders taking part on Thursday, the most important of them taking its curtain up as the Route du Sud started its 39th edition with a 203km journey from Lourdes to Auch. Steven Tronet (AUB) won an uphill sprint in the Place de la République to take the first orange jersey after a flurry of attacks even jeopardized the bunch’s chances, with lots of non-rated climbs tackled into the final 20k.
Soler, Sütterlin and Dowsett -in the beginning- plus Erviti, Dayer Quintana, Sanz and Gadret all took care of Nairo QUintana, who finished the stage unscathed, in the middle of the bunch. The Colombian will have to stay focused tomorrow in another hilltop finish in Saint-Gaudens, before his chances dramatically increase with Saturday’s big climbs to Bagnères-de-Luchon.
Thousands of kilometers eastward, Belarus’ Vasil Kiryienka claimed gold in the time trial of the Baku European Games, a completely flat route of 52km where Jesús Herrada took 9th place at 2’51”. The Mota del Cuervo-based rider started strong, clocking the sixth fastest time after 13km, to later struggle against the gusty winds and intense heat in the Azeri coast. Herrada will compete alongside Mas, Barbero, Vicioso and Luis León Sánchez -winner of today’s bronze medal- at Sunday’s road race.
Suisse: Malori, Ventoso on the move
Lastly, Peter Sagan (TCS) took the win into a complicated sprint on stage five of the Tour de Suisse -193km between Wil and Biel, the flattest in the race so far-, rain soaking the riders for most of their journey before two sharp, 90-degree turns into the final kilometer made a big selection within the sprinters' group. Out of any chances GC-wise, the Movistar Team riders rode more courageously than ever in the event as they launched a two-up move with Adriano Malori and Fran Ventoso into the final 25k.
The Italian and the Spaniard showed strength in search for the day's four early escapees -reached down with only 1.4km to go-, though they couldn't take their task to fruition. José Joaquín Rojas was 14th into the first of two predictable sprints before the decisive weekend in Bern; Friday will bring an uphill finish (500m, 4%) at the end of 165km from Biel to Düdingen.