The World Champion remained just outside the overall podium ahead of the race’s second time trial.
What better way to celebrate your 29th birthday than staying true to your nature and going on the offensive in a typically swashbuckling way, showing your rainbow stripes at the front of the race for 70 kilometers and bringing an extra level of excitement to the race? That’s precisely what Julian Alaphilippe did on stage 6 of the Tour de Suisse, when he went clear on the Gotthardpass as soon as the flag was waived, taking with him teammate Mattia Cattaneo for good measure and two other riders, together with whom he opened a one-minute advantage over a peloton.
Fourth in the overall standings, Julian pressed on as the climb progressed and crested it almost one minute and a half clear over a bunch that was considerably reduced, as the big tempo the GC teams pushed in order to control the gap to the Frenchman’s group had taken its toll on the field. With Alaphilippe being a big threat for the general classification, as under a minute separated him from the yellow jersey, the other teams ganged up and unleashed a fierce chase, desperate to close the gap ahead of the Lukmanierpass (18km, 5.6%), which they eventually did as the road was tilting upwards.
Things didn’t stop there, as other riders sensed there was a chance of taking the spoils on Friday, and soon a huge 41-man group featuring Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Mattia Cattaneo, Tim Declercq and Mauri Vansevenant found itself in the lead, around four minutes up on the peloton. It was no surprise, given how numerous that move was, that it soon began crumbling, only a handful of riders remaining off the front, and from that small group Andrea Kron (Lotto-Soudal) took the victory in Disentis-Sedrun.
“I knew there weren’t too many real chances of making it to the finish, but that didn’t stop me from attacking on the first climb. That’s my nature and also, as I said before, I like to honour the rainbow jersey every time I can, so it was special to be at the front today. I hope to have a good recovery for Saturday and do a good time trial. On paper, it’s a very hard course but we will see how things will pan out”, said Julian after concluding the stage in the peloton and retaining his fourth place on the general classification.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images