Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) was given free reign to join the breakaway on stage 6 of the Tour de Suisse, staying in the front group over the two early hors categorie climbs before launching a late solo attack in the closing kilometres of the race, where he passed Michael Gogl (Trek-Segafredo) as they approached the flamme rouge and took the stage win.
The stage victory is the 23-year-old Dane's first win at WorldTour level, and with Sunweb teammates Wilco Kelderman and Sam Oomen - who also holds the young leader's jersey - second and third, respectively, the week could yet get better for the German-registered squad.
It was perhaps a surprise then, with teammates in such strong positions in the overall and a tough day in the mountains, that the Sunweb management gave Kragh Andersen the green light to join the day's break.
"You can call it what you want, but for me it was a special day and I'm super happy for my win and to pay back my team that they gave me the chance [to get in the breakaway]. It's a really nice feeling." Kragh Andersen said in the post-stage press conference.
"We have two guys in the GC that are very strong at the moment, so it was nice that they let me go for the break."
Gogl was the first to show his hand from the reduced break in the closing kilometres, but Kragh Andersen stayed calm and chose his moment to respond rather than jumping immediately onto Gogl's wheel. It was a decision that ultimately paid off.
"I had my coach from the car behind telling me to do my thing and trust my instincts," he said. "When Gogl went he looked really strong. It was a strong attack and I had to play the hard game, and I waited until someone else tried to open the game.
"Maxime Monfort (Lotto-Soudal) went after a long time and opened a gap. After that I decided to go full gas or the gap would be too big. I caught Gogl 250 metres before the top of the climb and he was struggling. I just passed him and had good legs."
In his third professional season with Team Sunweb, Kragh Andersen has a further two years remaining on his contract. The stage victory at Tour de Suisse is the biggest so far in his time with the German team, and although Kragh Andersen shows huge promise, he admitted the win was overdue.
"It's a relief, it was a long spring for me," he said. "I had a lot of opportunities from the team in the spring to go for myself, but it never really worked out. I had bad luck, so for me [today], I'm super happy that I've finally won a race. That's why I race my bike, I like to win.
"I believe in myself, but if you don't win you start maybe to doubt a little bit. But to win a race like this today, it gives me a lot of confidence for the future."
Stage 6 of the Tour de Suisse had more than 3,300 metres of climbing over the three categorised climbs. Getting into the break at the foot of the Furkapass was one thing, but crossing the finish line first was a very different challenge.
"I had a first goal of getting over the first climb and a second goal of getting over the second climb," Kragh Andersen said. "It's not really my best thing to go [well] in such high mountains, so I had to survive.
"I felt better and better throughout the day, and after the second climb, then the next finish line was the real finish, so from then on I started focusing on winning the stage."
Riding towards the Tour?
Kragh Andersen's work ethic earlier in the week has contributed to Kelderman and Oomen sitting second and third place overall, as well as putting Michael Matthews in the position to win the bunch sprint on stage 4 - albeit for second place on the day.
Alongside the likes of loyal domestique Simon Geschke, Kragh Andersen's team contributions, which are now topped off with a stage victory, have raised the Dane's stock within the team, and a place on the Tour de France squad could very much be in the cards.
"I think it's a good sign," he said. "I've shown good shape and the will to ride. I support the team when they ask me to, and I love that.
"I take the opportunities on a day like today also. I hope that I will go to the Tour. I'm doing my best and I do what the team is telling me, so I cannot do any more. I hope it's enough."
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