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Tour de Suisse 2015: Stage 5


Live coverage of stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse, 237.3 kilometres from Unterterzen to Sölden.

130km remaining from 237km

As we pick up the action, a breakaway group of eight riders has a lead of some 8:45 over the peloton. Gregory Rast (Trek), Stefan Denifl, Matthias Brandle (IAM Cycling), Ben King (Cannondale - Garmin), Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre - Merida), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Stefan Schumacher (CCC Sprandi) and Mirko Selvaggi (Wanty - Groupe Gobert) forged clear inside the opening ten kilometres and the peloton has been happy to let them build up a buffer on what is the longest stage of the race.

Today is, in the opinion of Thibaut Pinot, the one true mountain stage in the Tour de Suisse, and what a stage it is as the race crosses into Austria. After traversing Bielerhöhe, the peloton faces the 12km haul up the Rettenbachferner to the resort town of Sölden, at an altitude of some 2,765 metres above sea level. It promises to be a decisive afternoon in the race for overall honours.

Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) leads overall, just ahead of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), but the standings should be radically redrawn after this afternoon's summit finish. The upper reaches of the general classification looked like this as the stage began:

1 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 11:19:09
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
3 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:08
4 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:09
5 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) 0:00:15
6 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:17
7 Steve Morabito (Swi) 0:00:18
8 Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre-Merida 0:00:21
9 Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:22
10 Simon Spilak (Slo) Team Katusha

There was one high-profile non-starter this morning. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) claimed a fine stage victory yesterday but has decided that he has gained as much benefit as he's likely to get from this Tour de Suisse. Matthews, of course, is in line for his Tour de France debut next month and already completed two weeks of the Giro d'Italia - winning a stage and enjoying a spell in pink - this season. He told Cyclingnews in May that his preference would have been to race the Tour of Slovenia between the Giro and the Tour, only that Orica-GreenEdge has opted not to send a team there this year. The opening half of the Tour de Suisse took its place on his programme.

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Over the top of the Bielerhöhe, the break's margin has stretched out to 9:55. Dumoulin's Giant-Alpecin teammates are controlling the peloton though without any particular urgency - the best-placed rider in the move is Mirko Selvaggi (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and the Italian is all of 18:38 off the yellow jersey.

Today’s summit finish atop the Rettenbachferner twice finished in the old Deutschland Tour. In 2005, Levi Leipheimer – still two years (at the very least) short of his supposed Damascene conversion on doping – won here en route to claiming overall victory. Two years later, David Lopez – then of Caisse d’Épargne, now of Sky – won ahead of Jens Voigt, who did enough to set up his eventual overall victory.

Stefan Denifl (IAM Racing) led the break over the top of the Bielerhöhe. He and his companions are currently on the following descent towards Lanceck, which is some 47 kilometres in length. Their buffer stands at 7:45.

108km remaining from 237km

Ion Izagirre (Movistar) has abandoned the Tour de Suisse following the Bielerhöhe. Giant-Alpecin continue to control affairs at the head of the peloton.

Gerolsteiner scored a one-two on the Rettenbachferner at the Deutschland Tour a decade ago, as Georg Totschnig placed second behind Leipheimer. Another former Gerolsteiner, er, luminary, Stefan Schumacher is in the break in the colours of CCC Sprandi. The German has not raced for a WorldTour team since returning from a two-year doping ban in August 2010.

Eddy Merckx has dominated the column inches devoted to cycling in newspapers across Europe today as he celebrates his 70th birthday. We've put together a retrospective gallery here. Elsewhere, Belgian station RTBF have made available the two-hour TV special they put together to celebrate Merckx's 60th birthday in 2005. Worth it simply for the the Cannibal being serenaded with a very Belgian cover of Suspicious Minds.

Merckx ‘only’ won the Tour de Suisse the once, in 1974. Though it should be noted that that lone Swiss triumph came between victories in the Giro and the Tour, and he added the World Championships road race later in the year for good measure.

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One expects precision in all matters timing at a Swiss race, but there have been some hefty fluctuations in the break's reported advantage. For now, it seems the escapees have stretched their lead out to 10:30.

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The race has reached Landeck at the end of that seemingly interminable descent, and Astana have taken up the reins at the head of the peloton in support of Jakob Fuglsang.

Astana's injection of pace has brought the break's lead back to around the eight-minute mark. Vincenzo Nibali rode the Dauphiné, but eager to maximise their haul of WorldTour points, Astana have chosen to field a decent chunk of their likely Tour de France, Fulgang included, in Switzerland this week.

Like Astana, Team Sky also has at least one important element of the Tour team racing in Switzerland. Geraint Thomas is currently 4th overall, just 9 seconds off Dumoulin’s lead.

71km remaining from 237km

FDJ and Katusha have joined in the pace-setting at the head of the peloton. Thibaut Pinot (5th at 15 seconds) and Dani Moreno (3rd at 8 seconds) both have designs on stage victory and the overall lead atop the Rettenbachferner this afternoon.

Pinot shone at the Dauphiné in each of his first two seasons as a professional but for the fourth year in succession, he has opted to prepare for the Tour de France by racing in Switzerland. One undoubted attraction is that he can compete in relative peace and quiet on this side of the Alps and Pinot has also explained that the two-week gap between the end of Suisse and the Grand Départ suits him better than the longer lay-off between the Dauphiné and the Tour. Another, less obvious reason is that it gives Pinot a rare opportunity to race alongside FDJ fast man Arnaud Démare before July. “We realised last year that the fact that we had never been together created problems. He didn’t know my way of riding and vice versa,” Pinot told L’Équipe. “I often ended up on my own, in echelons or most obviously on the stage over the pavé. We found it difficult to accommodate and understand each other when racing.”

55km remaining from 237km

Our leaders - Gregory Rast (Trek), Stefan Denifl, Matthias Brandle (IAM Cycling), Ben King (Cannondale - Garmin), Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre - Merida), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Stefan Schumacher (CCC Sprandi) and Mirko Selvaggi (Wanty - Groupe Gobert) - are all still together at the front as they ride in the valley floor ahead of the final haul to the finish. They'll face a long, long false flat before the climb begins in earnest, and bigger chunks should start tumbling from their advantage as the afternoon progresses. The gap is currently at 7:30.


47km remaining from 237km

Away from the Tour de Suisse, Lizzie Armitstead claimed the opening stage of the Aviva Women's Tour in Aldeburgh but was injured after crashing into a group of photographers immediately on crossing the line. Armitstead was eventually taken away by ambulance as her Boels-Dolmans teammates went to the podium on her behalf. You can read the stage report here and we'll have an update on Armitstead's crash in due course.

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With a little under 30 kilometres to go to the base of the Rettenbachferner, the break's advantage has been whittled down still further and it now stands at 6:30.

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Niemiec, Schumacher, King, Selvaggi et al continue to collaborate as they edge towards Solden and the base of the Rettenbachferner, but the pace is rising in the peloton and the gap is tightening accordingly.

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Yellow jersey Tom Dumoulin has described today's final stage as tantamount to a mountain time trial. The Dutchman has said that he won't follow the accelerations of the pure climbers but simply follow his own tempo and look to limit his losses as best he can.

25km remaining from 237km

The eight escapees are still together in the valley road ahead of the Rettenbachferner, with a lead of 5:45 over the bunch.

The pace is high in the peloton on the run-in to the base of the final climb, with Katusha and Astana stringing things out.

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Ag2r-La Mondiale have begun to contribute to the pace-making at the head of the peloton on the approach to the base of the climb.

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Brandle puts in a long turn on the front of the break in support of his teammate Denifl as they draw closer to Solden at the base of the Rettenbachferner.

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Brandle swings over as the climb of the Rettenbachferner begins, his day's work done. The break hits the climb with 4:49 in hand on the bunch.

Denifl and Ben King forge clear in the opening 500 metres of the climb. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) battles to get back on terms.

11km remaining from 237km

Stefan Denifl moves clear of Ben King. The Austrian is understandablyu keen to impress on home roads this afternoon.

Valerio Agnoli sets the tempo in the main peloton in support of Fuglsang, and plenty of riders are already being jettisoned out the back. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) is poised with intent in third wheel.

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Igor Anton (Movistar) attacks from the main peloton, perhaps to prepare the terrain for his teammate Winner Anacona.

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Alexey Lutsenko takes over from Agnoli at the front of the bunch. Under-23 world champion in 2012, the Kazakhstani is looking to earn a sport in the Tour de France team.

Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) is dropped under the weight of Astana's forcing. The Dutchman is climbing at his own tempo, just behind Tom Danielson. With over ten kilometres ot climbing still to come, he's going to struggle to remain in general classification contention at this rate.

9km remaining from 237km

Denifl has four minutes in hand over the main peloton, which has been whittled down to just 40 riders or so.

Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) moves towards the front of the peloton, speaking into his earpiece. The Breton will surely be granted his freedom given Dumoulin's travails.

Steve Morabito,Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Rafal Majka, Geraint Thomas, Sergio Henao, Domenico Pozzovivo, Simon Spilak, Winner Anacona and Joe Dombrowski are all placed towards the front of this ever-diminshing peloton. Julian Arredondo (Trek) , meanwhile, has been dropped.

8km remaining from 237km

Dumoulin is limiting his losses quite well, however, and the yellow jersey is almost back to within sight of the group of favourites.

As Dumoulin claws his way back into contention, Simon Spilak (Katusha) unleashes a crisp acceleration and punches his way clear.

Sergio Henao (Sky) takes up the reins in the group of favourites in a bid to peg back Spilak.

The reaction from Henao has broken up the group of favourites once again. Dumoulin loses touch again and it appears as though Barguil might be compelled to wait for him.

7km remaining from 237km

Up front, Denifl still has some 3:40 in hand on the the group of favourites and has settled into a decent rhythm.

Spilak, meanwhile, is picking off the remnants of the early break and has about 15 seconds in hand on the Henao-led group of favourites. Dumoulin is currently 30 seconds down on the group of GC contenders.

Pinot and Barguil were briefly dropped by Henao's forcing but they've made their way back on. Henao continues to lead this dwindling group of favourites, with Thomas tucked onto his rear wheel.

7km remaining from 237km

With seven kilometres remaining, Denifl is still out in front, while Spilak is at 3:18. An elite group containing Henao, Thomas, Pinot, Fuglsang, Pozzovivo, Majka and Esteban Chaves is at 3:40. Dumoulin is at around 4:10 but hasn't cracked, and is still pedalling smoothly on the wheel on Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo).

6km remaining from 237km

Spilak has taken flight and has stretched out his advantage over the group of GC favourites. He is now 40 seconds clear of Henao, Thomas, Fuglsang et al. The man who specialises in week-long Swiss races could be about to pull off another heist.

6km remaining from 237km

Rafal Majka and Esteban Chaves have been dropped by the group of favourites. Henao leads with Thomas on his wheel. The Astana pair of Fuglsang and Miguel Angel Lopez are still in there, along with Pinot and Jan Hirt (CCC Sprandi).

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Dumoulin has dropped Gesink as he gives lone chase to the group of favourites, though he is by now 50 seconds behind.

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Spilak is currently in third on the road but stalking Ben King (Cannondale-Garmin). He is 2:15 down on Denifl but 25 seconds up on the seven-strong group of favourites.

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Dumoulin rides with his yellow jersey unzipped. He can see the group of favourites on the long straight ahead of him and his deficit is stable at around 50 seconds.

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The select group of favourites are almost up to Spilak as they enter the final four kilometres of the climb.

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Pozzovivo accelerates from the Thomas group and places Fuglsang and Pinot in difficulty.

Pinot manages to edge his way back up to the group, and then in turn drags them up to Pozzovivo's wheel. They've also brought back Spilak. Fuglsang and Henao have been distanced, however.

3km remaining from 237km

Denifl has a lead of 1:46 over a group that features Pinot, Thomas, Lopez, Hirt, Spilak and Pozzovivo. Dumoulin is a futher 50 seconds back, with Barguil setting the pace for him.

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After a brief lull, Pinot launches an attack. He doesn't manage to shake anyone else loose from this group but he will both peg back time on Denifl and put more daylight between them and Dumoulin.

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Denifl is showing understandable signs of suffering but his pedalling is still relatively fluid. His hopes rest on whether the group of favourites continue to hesitate and watch one another. He has 1:13 in hand.

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Spilak accelerates again and Pinot is immediately across to his wheel. They have a small gap over the rest of the group, which is being paced by Thomas.

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Spilak and Pinot's acceleration has shaved another ten seconds off Denifl's lead. His advantage is down to just over a minute as he approaches the final two kilometres of this mammoth climb.

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Thomas' steady tempo almost brings back Pinot and Spilak, so the Frenchman climbs out of the saddle and kicks again.

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Pinot has shed Spilak and sets off in lone pursuit of Denifl. The Frenchman could be in the process of riding his way into the overall lead...

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Thomas, Pozzovivo and Lopez try to get back on terms with Spilak, but they will struggle to bring back Pinot at this rate. The FDJ man has taken flight.

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Pinot moves to within twenty seconds of a flagging Denifl...

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Pinot pedals smoothly past Denifl. The FDJ man is headed for stage victory and - perhaps - the overall lead.

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Pinot enters the final kilometre with a lead of 20 seconds over the Thomas group.

Pinot has been seated for the most part since his decisive acceleration, climbing out of the saddle every now and then just to keep his gear turning over.

Pinot eats up the ground in the final kilometre. He had the wisdom not to follow the early accelerations on the climb and bided his time before unleashing the winning attack.

Into the final 400 metres for Pinot, who is still adding to his advantage over the Thomas group - and over the soon-to-be-ex-yellow jersey Tom Dumoulin.

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) wins stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse.

Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) clips away to take second, at 33 seconds. Spilak is at 36. Thomas and Lopez cross the line 40 seconds down on Pinot, who will be the new overall leader.

Fuglsang loses 1:15 to Pinot. Henao comes in almost 1:30 down.

Dumoulin limited his losses well. The yellow jersey picked off Majka near the summit and he crosses the line 1:36 down on Pinot, and ahead of his teammate Barguil.

In the overall standings, Pinot will have a 45-second lead over Thomas and an advantage of 1:30 or so over Dumoulin.


1 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 6:22:47
2 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale 00:00:34
3 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha 00:00:37
4 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana 00:00:43
5 Geraint Thomas (GBR) Sky Procycling
6 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana 00:01:15
7 Jan Hirt (Cze) CCC Sprandi 00:01:18
8 Sergio Henao (Col) Sky 00:01:29
9 Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling 00:01:31
10 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin 00:01:37

General classification:

1 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 17:42:01
2 Geraint Thomas (GBR) Sky Procycling 00:00:42
3 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha 00:00:50
4 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale 00:00:55
5 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana 00:01:07
6 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana 00:01:27
7 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin 00:01:32
8 Steve Morabito (Swi) FDJ 00:02:29
9 Sebastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling 00:02:43
10 Sergio Henao (Col) Sky 00:02:46

For Pinot, it's a morale-boosting win ahead of the Tour de France, his second win of the campaign after landing a stage at the Tour de Romandie. He has also set himself up for overall victory at this Tour de Suisse, even with the 38.4km time trial in Bern on the final day.

“I’m very happy, it was important for me and the team. We came here to win a stage, and I had good legs today. I’ve got a lot of confidence now, that’s important for the Tour de France. And it’s true, racing in Switzerland seems to suit me,” said Pinot. “The objective is to win overall here but the rouleurs like Thomas and Dumoulin aren’t too far off and the time trial is quite long on Sunday.”

The last French winner of the Tour de Suisse? Christophe Agnolutto, who surprisinglky won à la Walko in 1997 by amassing an unassailable lead in a break on stage 2 and denying Oscar Camenzind and Jan Ullrich. If Pinot claims overall honours here, it will be very much à la pédale.

Thanks for joining our live coverage this afternoon. We'll be back with more tomorrow. In the meantime, a full report, results and pictures will follow here.

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