Porte Climbs to Tour de Suisse Lead After First Summit Finish13. June 2018, Leukerbad (SUI) — Road Team
The Tour de Suisse leader’s jersey changed from the shoulders of one BMC Racing Team rider to another when Richie Porte inherited the overall lead from Stefan Küng after the summit finish on stage 5.
Starting the day in third place, three seconds behind Küng, Porte crossed the line in the main group that managed to catch the late attack from Mikel Landa (Movistar Team) just before the line.
With three categorized climbs, two category one and one hors categorie climb, over 155km, the battle for the breakaway was on from kilometer zero and lasted more than 60km until finally, a six-rider group went clear.
The peloton allowed the group to go three minutes down the road on the long flat stretch between the first two climbs, but at the foot of the penultimate climb Küng suffered an untimely puncture and was forced to time trial his way back to close the one-minute gap.
Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport) attacked from the breakaway approaching the final 40km and at the summit of the hors categorie climb, Warbasse had a 2’10” advantage over the peloton, led by Greg Van Avermaet at the front of the BMC Racing Team train.
At the foot of the final climb to Leukerbad, Alessandro De Marchi led the chase and brought Warbasse to within 45 seconds and just a handful of riders remained in between Warbasse and the bunch including Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) who attacked and overtook Warbasse with 12km remaining.
Van Avermaet resumed his duties at the front of the reduced peloton and with 10km to go, Calmejane’s advantage was down to 24 seconds.
Landa attacked 6km before the finish line at which point Küng pulled off and Tejay van Garderen put in a big effort in the strong headwind, with Porte in his wheel, to close in on Landa approaching the final few kilometers of racing.
Van Garderen kept Landa, who started the day 33 seconds behind Porte, within reach and under the flamme rouge, Landa was just 15 seconds ahead of the select General Classification group.
Attacks from Porte’s group saw Landa caught just meters before the line which allowed Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) to take the stage win while Porte crossed the line in eighth place to move into the race lead.
Porte has a 20-second advantage over Wilco Kellerman and Sam Oomen (Team Sunweb) with four stages remaining.
Quotes from the Finish Line
"The team was absolutely superb. They were fantastic all day. It was a hectic start and we covered the first 100km super quick and I don't think it was an easy day for anyone. It may not have looked really hard in the final there but we went hard. All of the guys did their part today and I am so happy to have the jersey and keep it in the team. I think when you have such a hard start it's not easy to get going and it wasn't an easy day. So, let's see what the peloton has in store for us tomorrow."
"I didn't expect it to be as hard at the start. We knew it would be difficult but we got to the top and guys were still attacking. Then, we were then going absolutely full gas down into the valley. I think full credit to our team. They controlled it well."
"I think I have pretty good form and I think the proper mountain stages will suit me better than today and maybe even tomorrow but I am just happy to be back racing and to have good form. It wasn't a simple day but this jersey is all credit to my team today. It's our DS Fabio Baldato's 50th birthday today so delivering another jersey was the big plan today."
“We expected a fast start and it was quite ok for us because in the end, a lot of riders kind of killed themselves and it was a good breakaway for us with no riders who were really dangerous in there. We started to pick up the pace and a rider hit my back wheel at the beginning of the Montana climb so I had to wait for the car to get a wheel so I had to close that one minute gap, which for sure cost me a lot of energy which maybe I was missing in the end. So, that was a bit unfortunate.”
“I didn’t know the final climb and after I dropped off it started to flatten out a little bit. I didn’t expect to be wearing the yellow jersey coming into this stage so I wasn’t as prepared as you are when you are going for the GC and things like punctures you can’t afford if you are not a pure climber. I have to be happy with four days in the yellow jersey. Now, Richie is in yellow so we will try to do our best to help him win this race.”
Tour de Suisse
Stage 5 Gstaad > Leukerbad (155km)
Top 3: 1. Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), 2. Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors), 3. Tom-Jelte Slagter (Dimension Data)
BMC Racing Team top 3: 8. Richie Porte, 27. Tejay van Garderen, 38. Stefan Küng