23-year-old climber from Ecuador only 1" behind Silvan Dillier (BMC) at Route du Sud GC after enormous performance into Queen stage in Pyrenees
Richard Carapaz continues to impress in his maiden full pro season and came only one second short to donning the red leader's jersey in the Route du Sud, after a great 3rd place in Gavarnie's Cat-1 finish on Saturday – end to a 167km Queen stage also including the infamous Col du Tourmalet (Cat-2) and the RF Gaborisse (2ª).
Swiss rider Silvan Dillier (BMC), who started off the day as 3rd in the GC, got into the early break –which also included José Joaquín Rojas and eventual stage winner Pierre Rolland (CDT)– and held virtual leader position for nearly the whole stage. The Movistar Team and Sky took responsibility inside the GC group to protect the respective chances by Carapaz and Kenny Elissonde, the two biggest contenders for the overall classification.
Just over 3km before the finish, the great teamwork by Dani Moreno dropped the Frenchman and anticipated Carapaz's attack, only followed by Rigoberto Urán (CDT). Richard went for Dillier, whom he caught with 400 meters to go, and squezzed his chances to open a decisive gap into the closing straight uphill –12" were in favour of Dillier before the stage–. Carapaz got 13" on Dillier over the line, but the Swiss rider's 6-second bonus over intermediate sprints during the stage bested Carapaz's 4-second bonus as third at the finish, becoming the race leader by only 1" over the Movistar Team rider.
The Route du Sud will end on Sunday with a flat 154km course towards the Nogaro raceway. No big mountains are on the menu, yet two intermediate sprints (with 3-2-1 seconds up for grabs) after 40 and 115km could change the race situation before the finish (10-6-4 bonus).
TT showdown to define GC outcome in Tour de Suisse
Over at the 81st Tour de Suisse, stage eight (100km, eight laps in and around Schaffhausen) did not bring any changes to the GC, with Peter Sagan (BOH) victorious into the bunch sprint. Slovenian Simon Spilak (KAT) remains in yellow jersey position as Marc Soler and Víctor de la Parte conserve their 9th and 11th spots overall,. A demanding, 29km individual time trial at the same city holding today's finish will take the curtains down on Sunday.
Picture (c): La Route du Sud / La Dépêche du Midi