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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, June 15, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

The remedy for wrongs is to forget them. - Publilius

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Tour de Suisse Stage six team reports

We posted the report from the race organizer with the results.

Here's the update from stage winner Søren Kragh Andersen's Team Sunweb:

As the breakaway survived at Tour de Suisse stage six today, Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN) remained in the mix to attack in the final kilometres and solo to the stage six victory.

Andersen said: "Today was a really special day and I'm super happy with the win. To pay back my team for giving me the chance is a really nice feeling. Our coach from the car told me to do my thing and trust my instinct and when the last attack went I decided to go for it. This win is a relief, it was a really long sprint for me and I managed to stay in front. I've had a lot of opportunities in the past but it never really worked out so I'm super happy that I've finally taken a WorldTour win here."

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef (NED) added: "Today was a super hard day with the finish after a two kilometre climb. We wanted to be in the break if a large group went, and we managed to get Søren in there, who survived as the group became more select. In the final it turned out that the bunch weren't going to come back and we had enough guys with Wilco, so we decided to go full for it with Søren. Towards the final kilometres the gap went down and Søren attacked to take a fantastic first WorldTour victory."

Soren Kraghe Andersen

Søren Kragh Andersen wins stage six. Sirotti photo

GC leader Richie Porte's BMC team sent me this report:

14 June, 2018, Gomminswald (SUI): Richie Porte extended his lead by 12 seconds on the queen stage of the Tour de Suisse with an impressive late attack on the short, steep final climb to cross the line in sixth place.

With two hors categorie climbs in the first two thirds of the 186km stage, and a sharp category three kick up before the finish line, all of the teams were interested in having a rider in the breakaway which resulted in an 18-rider group that went clear on the run into the Furkapass.

Porte's teammates began controlling the race immediately and kept the breakaway's advantage to three minutes at the summit of the climb before navigating the technical descent. Michael Schär set a fierce pace on the descent and second climb, which prevented any riders from attempting to bridge to the breakaway and towards the summit of the Klausenpass, Rein Tarramae (Direct Energie) attacked from the breakaway to go alone over the top.

The remaining breakaway riders descended one minute behind Tarramae while behind, the peloton relaxed their grip and allowed the gap to go out to five minutes.

Alessandro De Marchi put in a huge effort in the final 30km to bring the regrouped breakaway's advantage down to three minutes and as the breakaway reached the steep climb with 3km to go, their advantage was inside two minutes.

Stefan Küng and Greg Van Avermaet delivered Porte to the bottom of the climb and as the steep gradient took its toll, Porte unleashed with 1.3km remaining with a strong attack that put many riders in difficulty. With a quick glance behind him to see the damage done, Porte attacked again, this time creating a gap, and continued to power up the climb in pursuit of the remaining breakaway riders.

Richie Porte

Richie Porte drives for the finish. Sirotti photo

Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) took the win and Porte crossed the line in sixth place to finish 12 seconds ahead of his General Classification rivals.

Porte now leads by 32 seconds over Wilco Kelderman and Sam Oomen (Team Sunweb) with three stages remaining, including the Arosa summit finish on stage 7.

Richie Porte:
"I think that after the amount of work that the team did for me today, I had to do something. I didn't really expect to take time like that.  I wasn't feeling great yesterday but today I had a better day and the team was incredible for me. Each and every one of the guys was really good especially Michi Schär. He rode most of the stage for me. It's good coming into the Tour."

"The guys put me in a great position and they looked after me so I am happy with how the day went. This is a dress rehearsal for the Tour de France and it really showed today that we are there. It was good to take a little bit more time on some strong time trialists today. Tomorrow on paper is maybe better for me and I am super motivated."

"Allan Peiper said on the radio 'Richie if you have any gas, you gotta go,' and I actually thought I had hit out a bit too early but when I heard that they were cracking, I dug in a little bit more. It really hurt but it is nice to take some extra time."

Here's the stage six report from Bora-hansgrohe:

For the spectators, stage 6 – the Tour de Suisse’s Queen Stage – would provide some of the most stunning scenery Switzerland has to offer, taking in the chocolate box views of the southern Swiss Alps and some incredible winding mountain roads, but for the riders it was a different story. With no time to sightsee, it was full on from the drop of the flag, with some exceptionally tough climbs to conquer over the day. Jumping in the breakaway and contributing to their lead, BORA-hansgrohe’s Patrick Konrad was unable to stay in touch on the second tough Hors Catégorie climb, but with two more road stages still to go, there were plenty more opportunities for the team to inject some excitement into the race.

The Stage
The 186km stage featured two Hors Catégorie climbs and they were certainly worthy of their classification. The first, the famous Furkapass, summited 40km into the stage after more than 16km of climbing and the maximum gradient hitting almost 12%. Riders would then take on the challenging, winding roads of the other side of the Furkapass, towards the second HC climb of the day, the Klausenpass, which would go on for 23.7km, with an average gradient of 6.1%. The remaining 60km of the day were either downhill or flat, but racing on technical Swiss roads, these would tax even the most skilled bike handlers, and anyone looking to go for the stage win would have even more work to do. A relatively small third category climb shortly before the finale could be where the fireworks would happen – if the breakaway hadn’t already spoiled things for the GC favourites.

The Team Tactics
The BORA-hansgrohe riders would be keeping a close eye on how the day’s racing would unfold and respond accordingly. The Queen Stage would likely see a big breakaway, and so the aim would be to try to get either Patrick Konrad or Gregor Mühlberger in the escape. On such a difficult and varied parcours it would be hard to predict the day’s outcome until both of the Hors Catégorie climbs had been dealt with. In spite of the difficulty of the two big mountains, the remainder of the stage was relatively flat and meant the outcome would be uncertain and could be taken by almost anyone. With two road stages and a time trial still to go after today on which to make an impact, the team would save their energy, as well as protect Peter Sagan, but take any opportunities if they presented themselves.

The Race
Even with the bright sunshine and warm weather at the start line, one might expect the break to take a while to form today, with the Furkapass looming large on the horizon. As the Queen Stage though, this was the day to make an impact, and a large group of eighteen riders formed early on and amongst them was BORA-hansgrohe’s Patrick Konrad. While the Austrian rider helped the escapees build up an advantage of 3:30, and felt good on the Furkapass, he lost contact on the second Hors Catégorie climb, owing to the difficulty of the long and difficult ascent where the ever-changing gradient made it hard to find a rhythm, and was subsequently brought back in by the peloton. With the breakaway then splitting on the flatter road section, six men were left on the front, with the remaining four behind them being swept up by the bunch. In spite of the efforts of the peloton, the catch wasn’t made, but this didn’t stop the GC riders in the main group riding their own race to try and shake up the overall standings. With no change in the points contest, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, goes into stage 7 with the black jersey still on his shoulders.

From the Finish Line
"The plan we had today was to send either Gregor or Patrick if a big breakaway group was formed, so Patrick went ahead with the 18 escapees. He was feeling well on the first climb but the second one proved too hard for him. He dropped back to join the peloton and provide his services if required. When the peloton crested the second climb, the breakaway had an advantage of about five minutes. Peter wasn't feeling in peak form so it would have been extremely hard for him to fight for the win. That's why we decided not to chase the escapees but be conservative and save energy for the remaining three stages." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director 

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