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Sunday, June 19, 2022

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Tour of Switzerland stage seven reports

We posted the report from stage winner Thibaut Pinot's Team Groupama-FDJ with the results.

Here’s the report from new GC leader Sergio Higuita’s Team Bora-hansgrohe:

The peloton made the 194.6km journey from Ambri to the Malbun ski resort in Liechtenstein today, with two brutal climbs again awaiting the riders. The peloton kept a large breakaway on a long leash until halfway through the race before the gap slowly began to narrow.

In the end, however, the last of the escapees weren't able to be reeled back in and Pinot took the day's win. Behind followed a smaller GC group containing Sergio Higuita, Felix Grossschartner and Maximilian Schachmann. As the group became smaller, with about 3km remaining, Sergio launched an attack and was able to drop Thomas and the then-overall leader Fuglsang. The Colombian champion thereby took over the yellow jersey and retained his lead in the young rider's classification.

Sergio Higuita goes into the final stage wearing yellow. Sirotti photo

"We knew that the last part of the climb was particularly steep after a short flat section and so our plan was to attack with Felix and then with Max. Felix, however, didn't feel so good in the finale. After Fuglsang went and Thomas followed him, I launched my attack. I knew that I am not a time trial specialist, so I had to get valuable seconds here before tomorrow's stage. It will be hard to compete with Thomas, who is a time trial specialist, but we will give it our all again tomorrow and do our best." - Sergio Higuita

"We were surprised this morning by a positive Covid result from Marco Haller, our important helper. So we had to send our three riders, who were all very well placed in the overall classification, without a helper into the race. We then were fully focused on the last climb. Our plan was for Sergio to attack on a steep part, which he did well. It's great that this turned out as planned and that he took the leader's jersey after we already had it once with Aleks Vlasov. Max and Felix also did their part to make sure that the yellow jersey is now on our shoulders. Now, of course, it will be hard in tomorrow's time trial. Our goal is to get a podium finish in the time trial and maybe we can also win the team classification and keep the best young rider jersey with Sergio." - Jens Zemke, Sports Director

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Here's the report from GC second-place Geraint Thomas' Team INEOS Grenadiers:

Geraint Thomas maintained second overall on stage seven of Tour de Suisse ahead of the final stage time trial.

Geraint Thomas is just two seconds behind new race leader Sergio Higuita (Bora Hansgrohe) after a late attack saw Higuita edge past the Welshman on general classification.

The Colombian national champion attacked Thomas and race leader Jakob Fuglsang in the closing kilometres of the final climb, with the INEOS Grenadier content to sit on Fuglsang's wheel before accelerating to finish fifth on a stage won by Thibaut Pinot from the break.

Geraint Thomas finishing fifth. Sirotti photo

Earlier, the Grenadiers had combined well to maintain a small gap to the breakaway, with a couple of riders posing a threat if the escapees' move went unchecked.

Luke Rowe, Dylan van Baarle and Omar Fraile contributed to the chase across the 194km stage, with Fraile particularly important in the early rises of the final climb to Malbun.

Dani Martinez then played a vital role, maintaining a strong pace to deter all attacks, with only Higuita able to escape the GC group before Thomas reacted to ensure a small gap ahead of the final stage.

Geraint Thomas:
"We expected a lot of attacks. Dani and all the team were incredible. I went after Higuita a bit too far out and I was blowing! After such a long effort, I kinda misjudged how long 500m would take, but it was all good.

"I think my form is good, I’ve been working hard. The plan was to get to the Tour in the best shape, so I’m on track for that. I’m in a good position, I think there’s all to race for tomorrow."

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Here's the report from stage seven third-place Alexey Lutsenko's Team Astana-Qazaqstan:

Alexey Lutsenko was one of the protagonists in today’s last mountain stage of the Tour de Suisse. The Kazakh leader of Astana Qazaqstan Team spent a good day in the breakaway and took a strong third place atop Malbun climb in Liechtenstein.

Alexey Lutsenko finishing third. Sirotti photo

“I had a plan to go in a break today and to try something there. I decided not to react to the first attacks and to wait until the first big climb Lukmanierpass, there I counterattacked and joined a group of riders in front. Finally, we got a good gap and started working well together. In a moment a few riders attacked from our group, and I had to counterattack to bring them back. Well, we came back together on the descent, but Gianni Moscon, who was with me in the breakaway, could not follow us anymore.

"It was so hot on the last climb to Malbun, and maybe I started it a bit too fast. However, later I tried to get my own rhythm, fighting for a stage win until the last kilometer. I stayed really close to Pinot, but could not catch him until the finish line. Well, I think it was a good stage for me and I am really happy that today I was feeling much better than in the previous days. Indeed, I had a bad crash, and the question was to continue or to abandon, but I was able to pass these tough moments through and today I felt like I am coming back to normal”, – said Alexey Lutsenko.

Stage 7 of the Tour de Suisse started in Ambri airport in Switzerland and finished atop tough climb to Malbun in Liechtenstein. After numerous attacks a group of 19 riders broke away clear with Alexey Lutsenko and Gianni Moscon among the escapers. On the final climb it was Lutsenko, who launched an attack together with Thibaut Pinot and Ion Izagirre. The Astana Qazaqstan Team leader was fighting for a stage win until the very last moment, but finished third. Pinot became the stage winner.

The Colombian rider Sergio Higuita became the new race leader ahead of the final individual time trial in Vaduz, Liechtenstein. Alexey Lutsenko is 19th.

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And here's the Swiss Tour report from Remco Evenepoel's Team Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl:

One last mountain stage, featuring two tough classified ascents and over 3000 vertical meters, and one last opportunity for the climbers to gain time before the final stage ITT in Vaduz – that’s what the Tour de Suisse had in store Saturday, when for the second consecutive day, the Wolfpack animated the day from the break.

One of the main animators on stage 6, which he finished fifth after a solid outing on the climbs, Fausto Masnada infiltrated again in the day’s main move, only this time with his Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl teammate Ilan Van Wilder for company. Having sailed away in the first ten kilometers of the stage, the group ensured themselves a nice buffer before the first hurdle of the day – Lukmanierpass (18km, 5.5%), a constant presence at the Tour de Suisse in recent years.

Despite the peloton gradually increasing the tempo, the advantage stabilized around four minutes and it proved enough for the escapees to battle it out on Malbun, a gruelling 12.8km ascent averaging 8.8%. As the road went up, Ilan had a tentative dig, but the others reacted and the group remained as one until nine kilometers to go, when three riders used a double-digit section to plug away. It was from here that Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) attacked two kilometers from the finish and took the victory, while Fausto and Ilan, despite emptying themselves on the closing part of Malbun, were overhauled by the favourites.

Remco Evenepoel finishing stage six. Sirotti photo

Remco Evenepoel came home just a couple of seconds behind the main favourites, in 12th place, and remains the team’s highest-ranked rider in the general classification, where he has a chance to gain some positions in the individual time trial which will bring the race to a conclusion.

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