Simon Spilak (Katusha-Alpecin) spent the first six stages at the Tour de Suisse laying in wait and keeping his powder dry, creeping ever closer to the podium's top step as the week progressed. On Friday he pounced, finishing off his team's all-day effort with a solo stage win on the Tiefenbach Glacier above Sölden and seizing the overall lead.
"Immediately from the start this morning I felt that I had good legs," said Spilak, who won the Tour de Suisse in 2015 and was ninth last year. "Yesterday it was 30 degrees, but today it was 20 and this is better for me. We had a plan for today and the team was so good. Not to perform well was not an option."
Katusha's Baptiste Planckaert and Jhonatan Restrepo infiltrated the large early breakaway, which gained four minutes before the peloton brought the adventurers back as they reached Sölden and the start of the final 12km climb.
Bahrain-Merida set the early pace on the final ascent, but Katusha-Alpecin quickly took over, first with Matvey Mamykin and then with Rein Taaramae, who set a pace that blew the lead group apart, leaving just a handful of contenders in contact.
Taaramae continued to hammer until just he, Spilak and Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Drapac) remained, eventually swinging off with about 10km to go. Dombrowski clung to Spilak's wheel for a short time, but he too lost the pace and left Spilak alone in front with about 8km remaining.
"Maybe that was too far from the finish, but what else could I do? I had to take the jersey for my team," Spilak said.
In the end, Spilak finished 22 seconds ahead of Ion Izzagirre (Bahrain-Merida) and 36 seconds ahead of Dombrowski, with his GC rivals further down the road.
In the general classification, Spilak has 52 seconds on Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) and 1:05 to Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo). Previous leader Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondial) lost more than two minutes.
"Tomorrow is a sprinter's stage, so we should be able to control that and then a long TT on the last day," Spilak said. "And yes, I am not so bad in the TT."
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