A marauding Richard Carapaz charged to a stage victory and the overall race lead today in the Tour de Suisse.
The Ecuadorian Giro d’Italia winner proved to be simply too strong for the rest of the GC candidates and took a stranglehold on the contest for the yellow jersey, ahead of a very challenging weekend in the Swiss Alps.
The display of muscular, attacking strength also served to underscore just how strong the Ineos Grenadiers squad headed to Le Tour in two weeks’ time really is.
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It has been a peculiar edition of the Tour de Suisse and today was no different. First, the overall race leader managed to get himself into the day’s early breakaway. Mathieu van der Poel went away early on in the company of three other riders, after Gavin Mannion (Rally Cycling) attacked up the day’s first climb to secure 12 king of the mountains points.
The van der Poel group managed to stay ahead for the flat middle part of the stage, but were caught in short order once the day’s big category one test began. Van der Poel had no designs on keeping the race lead, and didn’t seem too bothered to be caught and dropped.
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After the catch was made, Esteban Chaves (Team BikeExchange) sallied forth, taking out a good chunk of time and cresting the Erschmatt KOM in first position. That brought the Colombian onto a level points tally with Mannion in the climbing classification, but the American lost out on the jersey by dint of his worse GC position.
Chaves then took a slight wrong turn on the descent, ending up on somebody’s driveway before correcting his course, but he was eventually caught and left behind by a chasing Jakob Fuglsang (Astana PremierTech).
Tour de Suisse Stage 5 race leader Chaves Rubio rides into a driveway
Fuglsang led the the race briefly, but as the GC favourites began to light it up, Carapaz was able to jump over to the Dane with apparent ease. The pair came into the final straight together, but the Ineos rider proved simply too fast for Fuglsang as they contest a slow-motion sprint.
The day’s big loser was Julian Alaphilippe, who was penalised 20 seconds on GC for taking a late feed from his team car. He slips now down to 53” behind Carapaz, despite only losing 39 seconds on the stage itself, and beginning the day second overall, heir apparent to van der Poel’s race lead.
Richard Carapaz is in fine form and that provides yet more of a puzzle for the Ineos Grenadiers. They now have three riders with a credible shot of winning Le Tour: Richie Porte the Dauphiné champion, Geraint Thomas the guy they actually want to win with, plus Richard Carapaz, who seems every bit leaner and meaner than he ever has before, even in the year he won the Giro.
It will be absolutely enthralling to see who emerges as the ‘top dog’ at Ineos when the Tour de France kicks off on 25 June.
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