Tour de Suisse: Porte Digs Deep on Stage 7 to Retain Yellow Jersey15. June 2018, Arosa (SUI) — Road Team
Strong teamwork and good legs from Richie Porte saw the Australian climb to third place on the Arosa summit finish on stage 7 of the Tour de Suisse, to retain the race lead with two stages remaining.
As was the case on stage 6, a large breakaway of 29 riders, including Greg Van Avermaet, went clear in the first 10km approaching the category three climb and with the closest rider on the General Classification sitting two minutes behind Porte, BMC Racing Team allowed the group to establish their advantage.
Despite working for the whole stage yesterday, Michael Schär and Alessandro De Marchi led the peloton and set a fast pace to keep the breakaway to within three minutes in the first half of the race.
Porte remained tucked away and out of trouble in the BMC Racing Team train at the front of the group and with a tail win behind the bunch on the long run into the climb to Arosa, the riders set a blistering pace to arrive at the foot of the climb in no time.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) attacked as soon as the road began to rise, forcing Porte to react and bridge across to the Colombian before Quintana attacked once more to open up a gap.
Tejay van Garderen made his way back to Porte’s group to help with the chase and helped to bring Quintana’s advantage down to 20 seconds, and once the American swung off Van Avermaet dropped back from the breakaway to help set the pace.
Up ahead, Quintana made contact with the remaining breakaway riders and held a 40-second advantage with 15km to go but with no help at the front of the race, it became a rider against rider battle between Quintana and Van Avermaet, who led both groups up the climb respectively.
The gradient decreased for the next 10km and Van Avermaet put in everything he had in an outstanding display of teamwork to bring the gap back to 25 seconds with 7km remaining, with Porte in his wheel.
Van Avermaet mustered every bit of energy he had left to increase the pace and put riders in difficulty, which allowed Porte to make his move and break away from the group with 4.3km to go.
Porte quickly began to catch riders in front until it was only Quintana ahead of him in the final 3km, and when Jacob Fulgsang (Astana Pro Team) bridged to Porte the two riders were able to work together to bring Quintana to within 20 seconds.
Quintana held on to take the win and ten bonus seconds, while Porte crossed the line in third place 22 seconds behind, to pick up four bonus seconds, which sees the Australian carry a 17-second advantage on the General Classification into the last two stages, including the final time trial on Sunday.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“That was a long climb and I don’t think we ever expected Nairo to go that early but that’s racing. I wasn’t expecting an attack so early on the bottom of the climb but I had Tejay there with me and then a super Greg Van Avermaet, who did a fantastic job for me. I didn’t stress too much and I gave it everything so, hats off to Nairo, he was super strong today and I think he thoroughly deserved the stage win. I lost some time on the GC but I’m still looking forward to the time trial. We’ve still got to get through tomorrow’s stage but I think normally I am not a bad time trialist so, I’m here to try and win this race and I think it is looking good now. I’m happy with where my form is at. I was good yesterday as well and I hope to have the legs that I need for Sunday.”
“I think Andy Rihs would have been very proud of us at his home race. It’s obviously sad to have lost Andy this year. He was probably one of the best sponsors cycling has ever seen and it’s hard to replace someone like that. He did so much for us all and was a fantastic character. Hans Rihs, his brother, was at the race yesterday and it was nice to see that he still has the same enthusiasm.”
Tour de Suisse
Stage 7 Eschenbach/Atzmännig › Arosa (170km)
Top 3: 1. Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team), 2. Jacob Fulgsang (Astana Pro Team), 3. Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team).
BMC Racing Team top 3: 3. Richie Porte, 33. Greg Van Avermaet, 50. Stefan Küng