After the time trialists, sprinters and punchers got their opportunity on the opening stages of the Tour de Suisse, a sequence of five summit finishes, including the time trial, was about to start on Wednesday for the bunch. The first test was to happen on the slopes of the Gotthardpass (8 km at 6.5%), right after the Schöllenen climb (4.5 km at 7.5%) after 171 kilometres. Before that, the profile featured no difficulties, with the exception of a hill start which also offered a nice fight for the breakaway. After twenty kilometres, Silvan Dillier, Torstein Traeen, Bryan Coquard, Lilian Calmejane, Gerben Kuypers, Michael Matthews, Roland Thalmann and Jan Sommer eventually established the day’s good move, which enjoyed a maximum lead of seven minutes. Starting the final, ascending phase, of about thirty kilometres, the leading group still had a six-minute gap, and the GC teams did not seem willing to lead a frantic chase.

The breakaway split apart, and Torstein Traeen then went alone at the bottom of the Gothardpass, with a lead still close to four minutes. “We knew that a breakaway could possibly make it, depending on who was in there,” said Thierry Bricaud. “Then we expected a battle between the GC favourites. We had to be in the mix from the bottom of the Gotthardpass because we knew that it could be fast straight away, and that’s what happened. Lenny found himself behind a first split at that moment. This is due both to his legs and positioning. He was certainly not very well positioned, but since he didn’t have the legs, it wasn’t so easy to move back up. And as soon as you’re behind a split at this speed, you suffer. He managed to get back the first time with the help of Rudy, then he was distanced again when UAE Team Emirates launched Adam Yates.” Less than five kilometres from the finish, the French climber was forced to let his rivals go at the front, but he kept on pushing, nonetheless. “He didn’t have really good legs,” said Thierry. “He wasn’t way behind, but he wasn’t great, so he suffered. He continued at his own pace and eventually limited his losses.”

At the top, Lenny Martinez took seventeenth place, 1’54 from the winner Traeen and 1’31 from the first of the favorites, and new yellow jersey, Adam Yates. “I didn’t really have the legs to keep up in front, but I held on until the finish,” he confirmed. “There are still quite a few nice stages and a great time trial left. A lot of things can change, so we will try to go up in GC.” “Even if he wasn’t great today, he is still in the mix,” concluded Thierry. “And when you look ahead of him in the rankings, these are mostly experienced riders… The level is high, so if you don’t have good legs, you pay for it straight away. This Tour de Suisse has only just begun, and it will be hard every day from now on. Tomorrow the final climb is shorter but steeper, and we’ll have to see how Lenny feels.”

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