The second half of the Tour de Suisse, made for the climbers, started on Thursday towards Leukerbad. Matteo Badilatti therefore got into a terrain much more suitable to him, and he actually managed to set a good performance in the final of stage 5, which included two climbs. On home soil, the Swiss rider took 14th place on the day and should get more opportunities in the next few stages.
In the aftermath of a crazy stage, where the breakaway only went after eighty kilometers, the scenario proved to be more classic at the start of Gstaad on Thursday. Although Jake Stewart tried to go up the road in the very first minutes of racing, the breakaway eventually established itself after the Col de Pillon, after fifteen kilometres. It was then a classic scenario, or almost so. “There was the yellow jersey Mathieu van der Poel up there, and it is certainly a race situation we are not used to seeing,” said Franck Pineau. “For us, the goal was to enter only an interesting breakaway, meaning one including ten guys or so. We tried to follow the moves a bit at the beginning but we quickly realized that it was pointless”. With the Dutch champion, Herman Pernsteiner (Bahrain-Merida), Sergio Samitier (Movistar) and Claudio Imhof (Switzerland) also took the lead, but this quartet never got more than a four-minute gap. The GC contenders’ teams indeed started to chase ahead of the anticipated big fight.
“We wanted Matteo to show what he’s capable of”, Franck Pineau
A quite long flat portion then brought the riders to Salgesch, where a third-category climb was used as a warm-up. After that, it was time for the difficult Erschmatt climb (8 km at 8.5%) and the final climb to Leukerbad (4 km at 7%). “Once the breakaway was gone, we only had to look after one guy: Matteo, who is the group’s only climber,” added Franck. “We tried to support him as well as we could so that he made the least possible effort until the end”. On the first slopes of Erchmatt, the Swiss climber got back in the first part of the peloton. However, he could not follow the favourites that went clear halfway through the climb after Esteban Chaves’ attack. The 28-year-old still continued fighting behind, which allowed him to cross the line in 14th position, four minutes behind the winner Richard Carapaz (Ineos). “It’s a decent place,” said Franck. “This is also where we expect him to be. He fulfilled his part of the contract today. The result is not exceptional of course, but he did what he had to do. We’ve been encouraging him the last few days, we wanted him to show what he’s capable of. He could today. This second part of the race is made for him”.
On Friday, the riders will have quite a menu across only 130 kilometers. They’ll start with the Gotthardpass (8.3 km at 7.1%) before riding up the very long Lukmanierpass (18.5 km at 5.6%) and the slight uphill finish (7km at 3.5%). “We’re quite far overall,” Franck concluded. “If there is a breakaway of fifteen riders, Matteo will have to try to be in there. Starting uphill can help him in doing so. If that does not work, he will of course follow the favourites as long as possible to try to make a good stage”.