Tour de Suisse (st. 5)
Attack by Basque climber from Movistar Team at Suisse’s first mountain-top finish brought back due to strong headwinds. Nairo Quintana 7th at finish, 6th overall; Mikel and Andrey Amador now 10th + 11th.
Only the strong headwinds blowing during the whole, decisive climb to Leukerbad (Cat-1), end of stage five in the 2018 Tour de Suisse -155km with three rated ascents, starting at Gstaad-, prevented Mikel Landa (Movistar Team) from claiming what would have been his second win of the season, following a courageous attempt against all the other GC contenders.
Preceeded by Víctor de la Parte, who went on a counter attack behind the early break through the ascent to Montana (HC), Mikel waited until the last 6km to launch an acceleration after Carthy (EFD) and Bidard (ALM) -the two men off the front after the main escape was brought down-. The Basque climber quickly ammassed a gap nearing 20″, which the subsequent moves at the group containing Nairo Quintana and Andrey Amador did not reduce – rather than the final uphill, where Landa’s action died, the uphill sprinters already in action, just 200m from the end.
Nairo Quintana, 7th behind stage winner Diego Ulissi (UAD), was the best of the Blues at the finish, Movistar now leading the team GC with three of its members -the Colombian, now 6th (+33″); Landa in 10th (+47″); and Amador in 11th place- within a minute of new race leader Richie Porte (BMC). Thursday will bring another mountain stage (186km), yet the day’s two HC climbs -Furkapass and Klausenpass- will be far from the finish in Gommiswald (Cat-3).
REACTION / Mikel Landa:
“It was a somewhat crazy stage. The pace was furious into the first two hours of racing, because we didn’t get a break forming. In the finale, when the BMC team was left with no riders to keep pushing, I tried to attack from afar. It was really, really sad to come just 200 meters short. It makes you feel really bad, but those final kilometers had strong headwinds and there was nothing I could do not to be caught. Still, I’m really happy because this shows I’m on track to do well in July. I had spent many weeks without racing, and being able to compete for a win on day five after coming back is a good sign. There will be two other tough mountain stages tomorrow and on Friday – we’ll see who dares there to go for the win, especially those who are also targeting the Tour.”