Hugh Carthy (EF Education First-Drapac) came to the Tour de Suisse off the back of his third Grand Tour at last month's Giro d'Italia, and like Chris Juul-Jensen (Mitchelton-Scott) had shown 24 hours before, the benefits of arriving at the race with a corsa rosa still fresh in the legs are becoming obvious.
From the race's outset, EF Education First-Drapac admitted they would be targeting stages at the race through the breakaways. However, Carthy's performance on stage 5, moving up 18 places on the general classification to 18th overall, may leave the team looking to rally around the young British rider for the remaining stages with an eye on a respectable GC ride.
The 23-year-old attacked confidently with around 7km to go on the category 1 Leukerbad climb, dragging Francois Bidard (AG2R La Mondiale) with him as he looked to try and shake off the peloton.
"I felt good all day. The team did a good job early on and we were trying to find the break, but it wasn't to be. It was a strong break on the flat," Carthy said on the finish line before heading back down the mountain towards the pink EF-Drapac bus.
"The team put me in a good position on the first climb, and from there it's just legs and making sure I was on the right wheel on the climbs. I thought with 6 or 7km to go it was the hardest part and you've got to do something."
The kilometres ticked past for the Carthy and Bidard before Mikel Landa (Movistar) bridged across from the ever-thinning GC group behind spearheaded by Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing).
As Landa joined Carthy, Bidard was dropped almost immediately, leaving Carthy to work away with Landa. However, when the mountain road turned a corner, a stiff headwind appeared and the duo were suddenly against it.
Landa was the stronger of the two and eventually broke free from Carthy, looking set to take the stage until a late surge in the final kilometre engulfed the Spaniard. But as the GC group accelerated and caught the attackers, Carthy held on, managing to cross the line in 18th place and within touching distance of the main race protagonists.
"When I attacked [the headwind] was OK, and when we turned the storm clouds started to come in as well, but it's just one of those things," he said. "Mikel Landa was just too strong for me, but there's no shame in that."
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