Route du Sud (st. 2) / Tour de Suisse (st. 7)
Spaniard claims 2nd place behind Sky sprinter in Saramon's uphill finish, prelude to Saturday's Pyrenees stage over the Col du Tourmalet. Tough Sölden climb sees Soler slipping back to 9th overall in Switzerland
Route du Sud: Viviani beats strong Carlos Barbero
It was just one step too short for Carlos Barbero to claim what would have been his fourth victory in his maiden Movistar Team season. The Blue fastmen was 2nd at a slightly uphill finish in Saramon, ending point of stage two in the Route du Sud (174km), which saw Italian Elia Viviani (Sky) beating Barbero after a powerful display by the man from Burgos.
The Spaniard, well protected by his team-mates and support by splendid lead-out riders Daniele Bennati and José Joaquín Rojas, was the first to launch his sprint with 200m remaining. Viviani's strength ended up taking the better of Barbero in the final turn right.
The stage did not see any major gaps between the GC contenders as Julien Loubet (ADT) conserved his leader's jersey –Richard Carapaz now sits in 8th place, 36’’ back– before the Queen stage in the Pyrenees: 167km from Saint-Gardens to the Cat-1 climb of Gavarnie-Gèdre, following the grueling climbs of the Col du Tourmalet (Cat-1, 100km) and Gaborisse (Cat-2, 132km).
Tour de Suisse: Enormous suffering for Soler
In turn, the infamous ascent to the Tiefenbach glacier in the Tour de Suisse (14km at 10.5% average) ruined Marc Soler's chances to fight for a podium spot in the Tour de Suisse, which the Catalan youngster had hoped for after remaining fully in contention for the six opening stages. Soler put up with the initial pace set by Katusha for their team leader Simon Spilak –stage winner and new race leader–, yet ended up cracking with 10km to go as only seven riders remained into the front group.
The 23-year-old climber from the Movistar Team paid his efforts throughout the week and crossed the finish with 3'44" on the Slovenian, which takes him down to 9th overall as a fine Víctor de la Parte, 13th in the day, now sits in 11th place. The two Blues will seek for a top-ten GC spot at Sunday's TT showdown in Schaffhausen (29km); Saturday's racing will be an eight-lap, 100km TV-focused circuit race in the same city the race will end a day later.
Picture (c): La Route du Sud / La Dépêche du Midi