The consistency showed throughout the race got the 33-year-old Argentinian rewarded.
This year's Tour de Suisse has been a long, hard and rainy race, but Etixx – Quick-Step ended it on a high, with Maximiliano Richeze making one more visit to the podium at the end of the ninth and final day in order to don the black jersey, which rewarded his incredible consistency. Not only that Max has won a stage – the last one suited to the sprinters – but he also featured in three other stages, including the second summit finish, in Amden, where he came second, after being in the day-long break.
The first Argentinian stage winner since the inception of the Tour de Suisse, Max is also the first South American rider to top the points classification, making of this race one of the most successful in his career. On the final stage of the World Tour event (Davos – Davos), shortened by the organizers to just 57 kilometers due to poor weather on the hors catégorie Albulapass, Richeze was prominent at the front, taking the intermediate sprint in order to mathematically win the black jersey, and then going in the break, where he was joined by Magnus Cort (Orica-GreenEdge) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo).
Having a lead of one minute, the trio stayed at the front on the first slopes of Flüelapass (12.9 km, 7.4%), until the climbers brought out the fireworks and launched one attack after another in an attempt to put race leader Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) under pressure. After being left isolated, the Colombian surged ahead and crested the top of the ascent with a 30-second advantage, before being caught by a four-man group. Winner of the stage was Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling), while Lopez wrapped-up the overall, ahead of Ion Izagirre (Movistar) and Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin).
In the black jersey standings, Max had a total of 56 points, a tally more than double than the one of the next placed rider, and to take the win ahead of many big names, while proving great form, left him extremely happy on Sunday: "It was the last stage and I tried to honour the jersey by going into the breakaway. I'm glad to have won this jersey, especially as it's the first time that I take the points classification in a World Tour event. I want to thank the team for their trust and for supporting me. We had a really nice and unforgettable week, and this result comes as a reward for the effort of the entire team."
Besides Maximiliano Richeze's stage win in Champagne and the points jersey, Etixx – Quick-Step concluded the final World Tour race of June with three more podiums and one top 10 finish. Since the start of the season, the team has amassed 30 victories and 37 top 3 placings.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele