Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) went on the attack again Friday at the Tour de Suisse, this time taking the stage win along with padding his general classification lead over Rohan Dennis (Bahrain-Merida) heading into Saturday's pivotal 19.2km time trial in Goms.
Bernal, the 22-year-old Colombian who won Paris-Nice earlier this year, is conscious that he'll lose time to the time trial world champion during Saturday's penultimate stage, and so he tried to gain as much time as possible on Friday's final climb to San Gottardo.
"[Dennis] is the world champion in the TT," Bernal said in an interview published on his team's website. "For sure tomorrow I will lose time to him. I hope to not lose too much time, but we have another mountain stage on Sunday. We will do our best and control what we can control."
Bernal took control of stage 7 on the final out-of-category climb of the day, the 12km ascent to San Gottardo. The Colombian dropped all of his GC rivals with less than 2km remaining and soloed to the stage win, 23 seconds ahead of third-placed Dennis, who was paced across the line by teammate Domenico Pozzovivo. Dennis slipped from 12 seconds back overall to 41 seconds, with Bora-Hansrohe's Patrick Konrad third at 1:13.
"I’m really happy for the win today," Bernal said. "I won last year in the TT at the Tour of Romandie, so it’s nice to win again in Switzerland. It was difficult to know because you never know how well your opponents are going, but I felt really good. I said to the guys and like always they did a fantastic job. I won the stage for them and it feels really nice."
Bernal once again relied on his team to set up his final effort, with Ben Swift putting in a monstrous pull at the bottom of the final climb.
"[My teammates] were full gas, and it was really hard to stay with them in the wheels," Bernal said. "But I tried to stay calm, and in the final it was the best decision. We made a good pace and at the end everyone went full gas."
Bernal's result came on the same day that Geraint Thomas, the 2018 Tour de France winner who will join Bernal on the Team Ineos roster at the Grand Boucle in July, released a video of his first day of training after crashing out of the Tour de Suisse earlier this week.