Thibault Pinot triumphed in Liechtenstein’s Malbun in style. The Frenchman took the win from an original 19-man leading group. Behind him, the battle for the General Classification heated up. It was Sergio Higuita who earned the golden jersey and takes the overall lead.
“This is a great victory for me”, Thibault Pinot, the winner of the 7th stage up to Malbun, said happily. “I have recorded the stage in my diary in capitals”. The Frenchman managed his efforts perfectly. When Ion Izaguirre and Alexey Lutsenko attacked, Pinot did not react immediately but maintained his rhythm to then overtake them soon after. Behind the escapees, the battle for the gold jersey heated up. Sergio Higuita stole the show from his rivals and slipped into the overall leader’s jersey. “Its a really wonderful story,” said the overall leader. “We (Bora-Hansgrohe) came here to lead Alexandr Vlasov to victory. And his form was really very good, as we saw on stage 5 ( he was taken out of the race subsequently, editor’s note). Thankfully, we still have other cards to play. Today it could have been Felix Grossschartner. We’re all in good shape and that makes us positive for the Tour de France – although I won’t be competing in it.” Both Stefan Küng (18th) and Sébastien Reichenbach (9th) rode a good race. In the General Classification both of them are a little more than two minutes behind.
Another day for the breakaways
The race started as it did two days ago in Ambrì. It was similar scenes from the start. The Pros raced down the Leventina at almost 60 kilometres per hour. At the beginning of the climb to the Lukmanier Pass, 19 riders broke away from the leading group. While the front group split up in the climb, 14 riders continued together to the foot of the final climb to Malbun. The peloton had a deficit of 3:30 minutes. For the favourites it was not possible to bridge the gap. Thibault Pinot skilfully worked his way up the mountain, was not intimidated by an early attack by Ion Izaguirre and Alexey Lutsenko and won his second Tour de Suisse stage. Amongst the group of favourites, INEOS Grenadiers and BORA-Hansgrohe set a blistering pace, leaving only four riders with three kilometres to go: Geraint Thomas, Daniel Martinez, Jakob Fuglsang and Sergio Higuita. The latter attacked compellingly and took eleven seconds off Thomas and 29 seconds off Fuglsang. The Colombian thereby inherited the golden jersey from Fuglsang.
Photos: Buchli Photography/Sam Buchli
Preview of the final stage
The Tour de Suisse culminates in an Individual Time Trial. The race against the clock takes place entirely in Liechtenstein. The course runs through almost all municipalities of the small principality and is technically undemanding. Given the course it could be assumed that a pure time trial specialist will take the stage. “My money is on Stefan Küng. As a Swiss – Liechtenstein dual citizen, he knows the roads very well,” says former pro Matthias Frank, venturing a prediction. The fight for the General Classification promises to be an exciting one. Three riders are within 19 seconds of each other (Higuita, Thomas, Fuglsang). Of the three, Thomas is considered the strongest time trialist.
Preview of TdS Women
The second edition of the Tour de Suisse Women starts tonight. Categorised as “UCI Pro Series”, the race starts at 7:30 pm for prime time broadcast. The riders will complete ten laps of a 4.6-kilometre circuit, which is peppered with a short climb (0.7km at 7%).
Favourites include sprinter Marta Bastianelli, the winner of the first edition of the race, Elisa Balsamo the current World Champion and Swiss rider Sina Frei.