The young Dane Mattias Skjelmose (Trek-Segafredo) won the first mountain stage of the Tour de Suisse from Tafers to Villars-sur-Ollons. With a powerful attack 500 metres before the finish he left the competition in his wake, taking a solo victory in the Vaudois spa town. The win sees Skjelmose take the yellow jersey of GC Leader from Stefan Küng, who lost more than three minutes.
Skjelmose was delighted in the winner’s interview: “To win a stage in the Tour de Suisse – and a mountain stage at that – is a great victory. I wasn’t sure at first how the stage would turn out and how my legs would react when Remco (Evenepoel) and Felix (Gall) took off. But both were obviously at their limit and that’s why I took my chance”. The Dane’s victory may be considered a surprise. Prior to this stage win at the Tour de Suisse, the 23-year-old has been keeping his light under a bushel. Nevertheless his palmarès are impressive. Last year he won the Tour of Luxembourg and this spring he finished in the Top-10 in several classics, including Flèche Wallone (2nd place), Amstel Gold Race (8th place) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (9th place).
A Premature Challenge from Evenepoel
Right from the start, four riders escaped the peloton. Among them was KOM Leader, Canadian Nickolas Zukowsky, who was able to successfully defend the jersey in the breakaway. The group was caught before the final climb to Villars-sur-Ollon. At around 6 kilometres from the finish, Remco Evenepoel (Soudal – QuickStep) initiated his challenge and broke away from the peloton with Mattias Skjelmose and Felix Gall (AG2R Citroen Team) quick to respond. However, Evenepoel could not keep up his pace and was dropped shortly before the finish. Skjelmose took advantage of the weakness of the reigning Vuelta winner and powered ahead of Gall. Gino Mäder was best Swiss rider in 19th place, 1:09 minutes behind, which also makes him the top Swiss rider in GC.
Another Mountain Finish
Tomorrow (Wednesday) the second mountain stage of the Tour de Suisse awaits. A 70-kilometre climb along the Rohne valley right from the start will take the riders up to Crans Montana and then to the finish in Leukerbad. Again the stage is rather short (152.5km), but has almost 3000 metres of altitude gain. The last time Leukerbad was the finish of the Tour de Suisse was two years ago. It was here that Richard Carapaz laid the foundation for the overall victory with a stage win.