Sébastien Reichenbach had the opportunity to show himself on stage 4 of his national Tour, this Wednesday. The Swiss climber indeed made a small attack at the top of the last climb of the day, fifteen kilometres from the finish. Against a bunch made of fifty riders or so, he was however unable to take a sufficient gap and was caught in the last ten kilometres. Daryl Impey later won the final sprint, while Stefan Küng scored his third top-10 (10th) on this 2022 Tour de Suisse. The time trial specialist will tackle a typical “Ardennes” stage on Thursday being fifth overall.
Before heading to much harder terrain in the coming days, the Tour de Suisse offered a last stage for the punchers-sprinters on Wednesday, with a late climb to spice everything up. In other circumstances, the breakaway might have had its chance. It wasn’t to be today. “There were two possible scenarios”, introduced Philippe Mauduit. “One was to see a big fight in the two climbs at the start with a breakaway of 8-10 riders developing, in which case we wanted to be in front. The second option was to see a race controlled by the punchers/sprinters, and this proved to be the right one. The race was blocked, and we headed for a reduced bunch sprint”. Only three men eventually went away after fifteen minutes of racing, namely Matthew Holmes (Lotto-Soudal), Markus Hoelgaard (Trek-Segafredo) and Jimmy Janssens (Alpecin-Fenix), and the bunch could therefore easily control them. The gap first increased to five minutes, but several teams subsequently agreed to cooperate in the chase and thus make a sprint happen at the end. Entering the last hour of racing, the leading trio had less than a two-minute lead, and they approached the final climb at Sattel (3 km to 8.5%) barely fifteen seconds ahead of the peloton.
“I could see the shape was good”, Sébastien Reichenbach
Due to a very fast pace, the peloton lost many riders including the pure sprinters. Approaching the summit, only thirty men or so still made up the leading group, including Stefan Küng, Thibaut Pinot and Sébastien Reichenbach. And the latter then tried to thwart some teams’ plans. “I didn’t feel too bad at the top of the hill, so I tried to go, but I quickly realized that it was going to be hard”, said Sébastien. “I would have liked a few riders to come with me, it was a pity to go alone. The descent did not benefit me much because we had to continue pushing the pedals. There was not much to do against the bunch, but at least I could see the shape was good. The legs feel good and there is a lot to go for in the coming days. Personally, I quite enjoy the heat.” After attacking with fifteen kilometres to go, Sébastien Reichenbach remained in the lead for five kilometres before a still substantial peloton brought him back. “The guys could seize the opportunities in the final, but we knew we needed to attack with other riders because the peloton always goes faster than a single man in this type of downhill”, added Philippe. “He got the opportunity to attack, he took it, and it’s sometimes better than staying in the wheels”.
On the line, Daryl Impey (Israel-Premier Tech) eventually outsprinted a group of about sixty men, while Stefan Küng got in the mix again to take tenth place, his third top- 10 of the week. The double European time trial champion therefore retained his fifth place overall before three very hard stages. “Tomorrow is quite a difficult and tiring circuit”, warned Sébastien Reichenbach. “Then, we’ll have two great mountain stages. There will be a fight for both the breakaway and the overall”.