A solid ride and a great effort helped the Czech champion solidify his place in the top 20.
Furkapass, Gotthardpass and Cari were expected to make a serious selection in the peloton during Wednesday's Tour de Suisse stage 5 and take the sting out of the riders' legs, but this didn't stop 24 riders from booking a place in the break which got clear shortly after the day began. Their gap didn't go far north of three minutes, but even so the winner came from that group, after Darwin Atapuma (BMC) attacked with six kilometers to go and managed to keep the chasers at bay and take a solo victory.
The difficulty of the course took its toll on many riders, including Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), who saw the yellow jersey leave his shoulders after being distanced under the impetus of Team Sky, which set a fierce rhythm at the front, clawing back time on the escapees and trimming the bunch. Behind Atapuma, the GC contenders fought for the remaining podium places and bonus seconds, who went to Frenchmen Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) and Pierre Latour (AG2R), the latter being the new leader of the overall standings.
On the last ascent – a 11.5-km long one averaging 8% – Petr Vakoč put in a strong ride, staying with the best until the closing kilometers, and even after losing contact as a result of a flurry of attacks, the Brabantse Pijl winner still didn't throw in the towel and kept his composure, pacing himself to the finish line in Cari, a small village which was hosting a Tour de Suisse stage for the first time in history. As a result, Petr – who is at this first participation in the Tour de Suisse – lies in 17th place in the general classification and will now look with confidence to stage 6, which will see the peloton climb Klausenpass and Amden, for more than 3000 altitude meters.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele