Stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse saw a shake-up in the general classification as race-long leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) conceded 97 seconds to new race leader and stage winner Thibaut Pinot (FDJ). Still to come are three relatively flat stages and the final 38.4km time trial, which may leave room for a change at the top of the standings, and both Dumoulin and Sky's Geraint Thomas are eyeing the final podium.
Prologue winner Dumoulin said he hoped to lose no more than 90 seconds in Wednesday's queen stage, which finished atop the Rettenbach glacier, and he did well to limit his losses to just over that target.
“I am happy with today’s result, it went very well," Dumoulin said. "I considered the ascent of the Rettenbachferner as a time trial and I rode my pace up. Halfway up the climb I let go the GC group, but later on I picked them up one by one."
Although Dumoulin is now seventh in the general classification, he is one of the best time trialists in the race, though it will be a tall ask to gain more than 1:32 on Pinot and, perhaps more importantly, 45 seconds on Thomas. Simon Spilak (Katusha) is third at 50 seconds and could also be a danger for the overall race victory.
"I still believe in my GC chances, but I can’t promise to regain the lead in the closing time trial, but it’s still possible," Dumoulin said.
Thomas, winner of the Volta ao Algarve and E3 Harelbeke this year, is a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist in the time trial, and he was only six seconds slower than Dumoulin in the prologue.
“There’s Dumoulin at only 45 seconds behind me. I’m only 47 behind Pinot and me and Spilak are on pretty much the same time. He’s a handy time trialer so it will certainly be an exciting finale. But there are still a few big road stages to come so it could all change. But we’ll just keep going day by day I guess," Thomas said.
The ascent of the Rettenbach glacier showed that both riders are on strong form. Dumoulin lost contact mid-way through the ascent but slowly clawed his way back into shouting distance as others faded, while Thomas felt he could have attacked with Pinot but feared the high altitude at the top.
“I didn’t really know what to expect obviously with how hard the climb was and then the altitude as well on top of that," Thomas said. "It was certainly going into the unknown. I’d never raced up a climb like that before. I’d always done a job and sat up. I’m pretty happy.
"I just tried to ride my own pace but maybe I should have tried to go with Pinot. I just lacked a bit of confidence really as I didn’t want to blow up. So I rode my pace but that meant that the other guys sat on me. There was a bit of a headwind and then they all jumped me at the end. But I think it’s positive and I’m still in the GC hunt now. If it all stays the same going into Sunday then it will be super close and all to race for."