Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) claimed stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse with a well-timed sprint effort at the summit finish at Leukerbad, while Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team) finished in the front group to move into the yellow jersey of race leader.
The first mountain stage of the Tour de Suisse was animated by an ambitious attack from Mikel Landa (Movistar), who accelerated forcefully out of the group of favourites with a little over six kilometres to race. Landa’s offensive put paid to Stefan Küng’s hopes of retaining the yellow jersey, and when the Swiss rider was dropped from the group, his teammate Tejay van Garderen took up the reins of pursuit at the front.
Despite van Garderen’s efforts, Landa was able to open an advantage of 15 seconds over the principal contenders as he bounded across in the big ring to earlier escapees Hugh Carthy (EF Education First-Drapac) and François Bidard (AG2R La Mondiale). Carthy was able to resist Landa’s forcing at first, but eventually had to yield as the Basque kept turning over his mammoth gear.
Landa’s hopes of stage victory were initially aided by a distinct lack of collaboration in the chasing group, which spread across the road after a speculative acceleration from Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), and it took a fine intervention from Astana’s Jesper Hansen, who worked diligently on behalf of Jakob Fuglsang, to bring some order to the pursuit. Even so, Landa still had the bulk of his buffer intact as he entered the final two kilometres, where he showed few signs of relenting.
The situation changed, however, on the exposed road to the summit. The wind was such that the flamme rouge arch had not been inflated, and instead two volunteers held signs on the roadside to denote the final kilometre. Landa looked to have a winning margin at that point, but he visibly began to struggle as the last kilometre wore on and the chasers drew closer.
Landa’s fate was sealed by an acceleration from Mathias Frank (AG2R La Mondiale) with 400 metres to go, and all of a sudden, the chasing group was upon him. The final kick to the line lent itself perfectly to Ulissi’s talents as a finisseur, and his winning effort here was a near replica of his sprint atop Montecopiolo on the 2014 Giro d’Italia.
How it unfolded
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