On stage 5 featuring three great climbs, this Thursday on the Tour de Suisse, Stefan Küng spent a good day in the breakaway to La Punt. First alongside some twenty riders, the Swiss man eventually tackled the last climb, the Albulapass, within a smaller group. He was then distanced by the best climbers from the breakaway and caught by the GC contenders. Romain Grégoire also passed his teammate and took a decent twentieth place at the finish, moving up this to 17th overall on Thursday.
Would you like some more climbing? To that question, the Tour de Suisse riders ultimately had no choice. A third consecutive stage made for the climbers was indeed on the menu this Thursday on the fifth day of racing in Switzerland. “It was the queen stage of this Tour de Suisse, with three climbs over 2000 meters, 4500 meters of elevation gain and 211 kilometres”, introduced Sébastien Joly. The first climbs, the Furkapass (16.5 km at 6.5%) and the Oberalpass (10.7 km at 5.6%), followed one after another after twenty kilometres of valley, and could therefore be a good place for some men to anticipate. “The initial plan was to put at least one or two riders in the breakaway, and rather our climbers like Michael, Romain or even Quentin”, explained Stefan Küng. “However, it went from the start, I saw that there was a big group in front, and I followed”. “It went very fast in the valley”, confirmed Sébastien. “A large group of thirty riders broke away with Stefan in there. The bunch controlled it at first, but then let it go without giving it too much space either, as there were dangerous riders for the overall”. After climbing the first two passes and getting through a long valley of almost a hundred kilometres, the breakaway split for a first time in the foothills of the Albulapass. Stefan Küng managed to enter the good move with thirteen riders.
“A good day in anticipation of the next goals”, Stefan Küng
The leading group reached the official bottom of the Albulapass with a four-minute gap, but the pace also increased in the peloton moments later, and the gap significantly reduced on the first part of the climb. Halfway to the top, Stefan Küng was also forced to let the best climbers go away. “It was a very hard day, and I did my best to hold on as much as possible,” he said. “The last climb was still very difficult; it was a little too much for me. It was still a good day in anticipation of the next goals such as the Tour de France. It was a real mountain stage, and it’s always nice to be up front.” Distanced twenty kilometres from the finish, which was located after ten kilometres of descent, Stefan Küng was caught by the main favourites, including Juan Ayuso, who went on to win the stage solo. Almost four minutes after the Spaniard, Romain Grégoire got to the line with a decent twentieth place. “He fought well, and there were still riders from the break in-between,” said Sébastien Joly. Thanks to this performance, the young Frenchman gained three places in the general classification. He’s now 17th. “There are still a few hard days left before the last time trial”, concluded Stefan Küng. Another super long stage will be on the menu on Friday, with 216 kilometres and a punchy finish.