photo credits @ WTFK
Felix Gall (AG2R Citroën Team) took a solo victory in stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse in Leukerbad today, while narrowly claiming the overall race lead.
The Austrian rider commence a long-range attack along the steepest gradients on the climb to Höhenweg with 22 kilometers to go, passing the remnants of the day’s breakaway group while comfortably holding off a disjointed pursuit.
Finishing 1:02 down, Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) won the sprint for second place from ahead of race leader Skjelmose. Thanks to ten bonus seconds gained, Gall leapfrogged the Dane into the lead by two seconds, with Evenepoel in third.
“I’m a little bit overwhelmed with the situation, I still cannot really believe it,” Gall said after the finish. “I think I’m in the shape of my life.
“Yesterday, I felt super good. This morning, we said if I feel the same today on the last climb, I have to give it a try. I didn’t really think it would be possible because it was still a long way to the finish line … if I have the best legs in my life, I’m not going to wait in the bunch and look at the others.”
Third overall at the start of the day, Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) lost over a minute to his fellow contenders and fell to sixth place overall.
Nikias Arndt (Team Bahrain-Victorious), Lilian Calmejane (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Stan Dewulf (AG2R Citroën Team), Pascal Eenkhoorn (Lotto Dstny), Daryl Impey (Israel-Premier Tech), Lluís Mas (Movistar), Luca Mozzato (Team Arkéa Samsic), Jhonathan Narváez (Ineos Grenadiers), Kristian Sbaragli (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Kevin Vermaerke (Team DSM) marked the day’s first breakaway effort, later building up a modest advantage over the peloton.
As the breakaway group began to disintegrate, Calmejane decided to attack, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, Jumbo-Visma took the reins on the way to Dorben. By the mountain’s foot, the break had split into two uneven sections. Calmejean was up front with three others. When Gall accelerated in the peloton, Ayuso was immediately in peril. Gall linked up with Calmejean’s crew and then dashed away solo. Behind, a high-powered chase containing Remco Evenepoel, Wilco Kelderman and Skjelmose lit out after the Austrian.
Evenepoel was dropped but made it back before the second step. There was a lack of cohesion in the chase group. Gall crested 1:14 over Kelderman, Pello Bilbao and Romain Bardet and 1:20 ahead of Skjelmose and Evenepoel. The chase group gelled once more and Evenepoel claimed second place, Skjelmose third.
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