Ahead of the final weekend of racing, Richard Carapaz is in a good position to secure his first Tour de Suisse overall title, while the stage today ended in controversy, with the apparent winner relegated for a sprinting offence.
Rui Costa of UAE Team Emirates was the first to cross the finish line, with second place Andreas Kron (Lotto Soudal) incensed, claiming the Portuguese had deviated from his line significantly as the pair sprinted for the win.
Rui Costa was ‘declassified’, eventually, with Kron awarded the stage win after the race jury took his side of the dispute. Costa was given second on the day, rather than being relegated entirely from the results as has happened in higher profile sprints.
Tour de Suisse
Highlights: Carapaz wins Tour de Suisse, Mader secures Stage 8
Andreas Lorentz Kron takes Stage 6 win as Rui Costa is relegated for irregular sprint
As it was yesterday, the stage began with a tough mountain ascent right out of the gate.
Antonio Nibali secured maximum points on the San Gotthard pass KOM, catapulting the Italian into the lead of that competition, after which a large breakaway of 42 riders made it up the road.
The eventual stage win came from the break, after a David de la Cruz solo effort saw him bag maximum KOM points on the second and third climbs of the stage, but get brought back some six kilometres from home.
From there a new leading trio formed, with Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain Victorious) grabbing that third podium spot behind Kron and Costa.
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The strangeness of this peculiar Tour de Suisse continues. After Mathieu van der Poel going in the break while leading the race overall on Thursday, only to withdraw the next day with ‘illness’, it was Julian Alaphilippe’s turn to get up the road in an unlikely escape move this morning. It was a short-lived and perplexing attack from a rider who might easily win this race overall – and would presumably never be allowed off the leash to go on for a stage win.
The Frenchman is 20 seconds worse off on GC than he might’ve been, after a terribly misjudged feed within the final kilometres of yesterday’s stage for which he was penalised time.
And then you have the nature in which today’s stage was won, a slow-motion, borderline ‘sprinting incident’ where Rui Costa did indeed seem to cut across Kron’s path, but not in a way that felt materially dangerous. The pair had the final straight all to themselves and were hardly moving at the sort of speeds that makes top-end sprinting between the likes of Sam Bennett and Dylan Groenewegen so precarious. It took an eternity for whomever made the decision to come to their conclusion, with the ‘stage winner’ part of the podium presentation delayed to allow for more thinking time.
Looking ahead, tomorrow’s stage is also quite unusual, an individual time trial going directly up a genuine mountain and down the other side. The ascent is 9.5km long at 6.5% gradient, the sort of test you would expect on a mountainous day of a Grand Tour, but will be attempted one at a time with riders choosing a regular road machine rather than a specialist aero bike for the task.
The stage certainly suits the talents of race leader Richard Carapaz, who is looking all but assured of the overall win after another handy, confident performance today, but could yet still be challenged by the likes of Alaphilippe, Jakob Fuglsang or Max Schachmann, who can all go well against the clock and uphill.
Tour de Suisse
Carapaz wins Tour de Suisse, Mader secures Stage 8
Tour de Suisse
Uran takes Stage 7 time trial to eat into Carapaz lead