In stage 6 of the Tour de Suisse, passing through the Gotthardpass and the Lukmanierpass, Benjamin Thomas gave it another go. Although the former French time trial champion could not follow the best riders of the breakaway in the climbs, he was still able to take 21st within the yellow jersey group. On Saturday, a very unique time trial is on the menu.
It was not just any other “hill start” on Friday in stage 6 of the Tour de Suisse. The day actually began straight away with the Gotthardpass climb. On what was a very short course, made of only 130 kilometers, some action was therefore expected. It did happen and Stefan Küng even made a few attempts. However, only four men including the world champion Julian Alaphilippe managed to make a gap after the summit. Due to the Frenchman’s good position overall, the bunch kept a good pace on the downhill and the flat leading to the second climb of the day. There barely was a-minute gap all along, and that later led to some other attacks within the bunch ahead of the Lukmanierpass (18.5 km at 5.6%). With about seventy kilometers to go, a new race then started.
“Benjamin fought well”, Franck Pineau
“Benjamin Thomas showed some courage and tried to take a step ahead in a big breakaway of 25-30 guys,” said Franck Pineau. “This breakaway then lost some riders, including him, and he eventually finished with the yellow jersey group”. The time trial specialist took 21st place on the day, while Andreas Kron took the win in Disentis Sedrun. “Benjamin is gathering momentum”, added Franck. “He was already in the break two days ago, came close to winning, and he put in the work again today. It’s still noticeable, as he is not a climber. He fought well and put in a lot of effort. These will pay off later, especially in the upcoming French championships”. On Friday, Benjamin Thomas was the only rider from Groupama-FDJ to finish in the front.
“Everyone else is where they are supposed to be, except for Matteo,” said Franck. “He was obviously our best card today, but he did not have a good day at all. It was actually a very bad day and it was difficult from start to finish. I will ask him to go easy in the time trial tomorrow, so that he will be able to make a good stage on Sunday”. On Saturday, the time trial presents a very special profile since the riders will have to climb for ten kilometres, before descending on the opposite side. Climbers will logically have the advantage. “A specialist will always give his best, whether it is uphill or on the flat,” said Franck. “Mentally, Stefan or Benjamin just can’t do it “easy”. So they’ll do it well, even if it’s going to be very difficult. Both will use the time trial bike, and according to their time at the top, will do the downhill part quickly or not”.