Live coverage of stage 7 of the Tour de Suisse, with a summit finish on the Tiefenbach Glacier.
Hello there and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 7 of the Tour de Suisse.
It's a big one today, with the stage finishing up at the Tiefenbach Glacier, at a whopping 2780 metres. Previous editions of the race have finished at the Rettenbach Glacier, above Solden, but construction works there mean the organisers are sending the riders 2.8km further up. It's a brutal 15km climb, where the altitude will play a big part, and is sure to see significant differences between the overall contenders.
The riders have all signed on and they will be rolling out of Zernez any minute now.
Here's a look at the stage profile
The final ascent is the only difficulty on the menu, which should help the less pure climbers to a certain extent, though there really is nowhere to hide on a climb like that.
The race is underway. After two days of long drawn-out battles to form breakaways, will we see the same again today?
Plenty of attacks but nothing sticking for the moment.
As we wait to see if/when a break forms, let's turn our attention back to the finish, which features a pretty spectacular sight - a 1.7km long tunnel cut through the mountain. Here's a glimpse from media officer Jolanda van de Graaf.
144km remaining from 160km
We now have a large group off the front of the peloton, with a couple trying to bridge across.
It looks like the peloton is easing up and letting this big break go. We'll bring you the full composition shortly, but we're hearing there's a Sagan in there.
125km remaining from 160km
The chasers have joined the break to make it 18 out front, and they're pulling away now, with over two minutes on the bunch, where AG2R La Mondiale are controlling the pace for the race leader Domenico Pozzovivo.
Courtesy of VeloPro, the composition of the break:
Jhonatan Restrepo, Baptiste Planckaert (Katusha-Alpecin), Jeroen Meijers (Roompot-Oranje Loterij), Lars-Petter Nordhaug, Daniel Pearson (Aqua Blue Sport), David De La Cruz, Matteo Trentin (Quick Step Floors), Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data), Marcus Burghardt, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Michael Matthews (Sunweb), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Lilian Calmejane, Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie), Matthew Hayman (Orica-Scott), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Jon Dibben (Team Sky), and Tsgabu Grmay (Bahrain-Merida).
As the race situation settles down, why not catch up on how Pozzovivo ended up in yellow. Here's our stage 6 report, complete with full results and a photo gallery.
110km remaining from 160km
The riders covered 52km in the first hour of racing. That's mostly due to the fact that the opening half of this stage is all gentle downhill.
@tds Fri, 16th Jun 2017 12:28:37
100km remaining from 160km
2:45 is the gap after nearly 70km. CCC have joined AG2R at the head of the bunch and are helping to keep this break on a pretty tight leash. They missed the break today so they might not be too keen on seeing those 18 riders disappear with a shot at stage glory. The Polish team has Jan Hirt as a candidate for the stage win, with the Czech rider finishing 12th at the Giro and using that form to go on the attack on the Albulapass yesterday.
It's another busy day of racing, with more action from the Route du Sud, Tour of Slovenia, and ZLM Toer on top of Suisse. We'll keep you posted on all the results as they come in on Cyclingnews.com
The long pre-amble to the intimidating final climb continues. The leading group of 18 still only have a modest advantage.
80km remaining from 160km
There are in fact two tunnels on today's route, and the peloton are just heading through the first. It's 7km long.
The gap grows out to four minutes now.
Over at the Tour of Slovenia, Luka Mezgec has taken the second stage, but it was marred by crashes as Mark Cavendish and Sam Bennett were both taken out in the rain.
65km remaining from 160km
We've just gone past the 100km mark. Not a great deal happening - this stage is just a procession to the final climb, where it will all inevitably kick off. The road now begins to roll before rising gently to Solden and the foot of the final climb.
There's some big news in the tech world today as Pirelli have unveiled the tyres that herald their return to bicycling. Oli Woodman has been to Pirelli's testing facilities in Milan to get hands on with the new tyres and give you the full lowdown. Here's the story:
The peloton continue to tap out a solid rhythm, and they've brought the gap to the break down to below the three-minute mark again.
Have you listened to the latest Cyclingnews Podcast?
This week we take a look at the transfer market, with plenty of gossip emerging from the Dauphiné. Kittel to Katusha? Landa to Movistar? And what will happen with Quick-Step's and BMC's budgets, with most of their riders out of contract? All that and more in the episode, which you can find at the link below.
@VelonCC Fri, 16th Jun 2017 13:07:50
45km remaining from 160km
The gap is down towards the two-minute mark now as CCC continue their charge.
Here's a reminder of how things stand on GC as we begin the approach to the final climb.
1 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 22:03:28
2 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team
3 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:13
4 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:22
5 Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:23
6 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:35
7 Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:54
8 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky 0:01:19
9 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:01:42
10 Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:03:02
We have a pair of intermediate sprints coming up before we hit the final climb. Peter Sagan is wearing the black jersey as leader of the points classification and might fancy striking out to extend his lead.
@tds Fri, 16th Jun 2017 13:55:05
The gap continues to fall. 1:30 now, and it's almost certain that our winner won't be coming from the 18-man breakaway group.
Sagan indeed hits out for the intermediate sprint. Matthews challenged him but the world champion bolsters his lead in the points classification. Another one to come.
30km remaining from 160km
As live television images fire into life, the breakaway riders, sensing the advancing peloton, have started knocking chunks out of each other.
Matteo Trentin is now alone out front with a lead of 12 seconds over his former companions.
Meijers attacks from the break now and others go with him.
Back in the bunch the orange CCC train continues to roll. AG2R haven't had much to do in their first day in defense of the yellow jersey.
Wellens attacks now as Trentin is caught.
20km remaining from 160km
Sky take over from CCC at the head of the bunch. 1:10 is the gap, still, to the front of the race. Sky's Mikel Nieve looked strong yesterday and is certainly a candidate for the stage win, while there's plenty more to gain as he sits 8th overall.
Let's not forget that we have a final-day time trial on Sunday, so the climbers like Pozzovivo and Nieve need to gain time today. Steven Kruijswijk and Simon Spilak, third and fourth overall, look particularly dangerous.
Wellens continues his solo effort out front and takes maximum points at the second intermediate sprint.
Behind him Sagan pings off to collect the remaining points. Matthews again tracks him but can't pass him.
We're about to hit the climb and the peloton are now closing in on the break.
Sagan et al are caught by the peloton and spat out the back.
15km remaining from 160km
Onto the climb now and Wellens is caught by the peloton, led by Bahrain-Merida. All together.
The road kicks up with some punishing early gradients, and the peloton is thinning out considerably already.
Gasparotto sets the pace for Bahrain-Merida, with Ion Izaguirre, 14th overall, on his wheel.
14km remaining from 160km
Spilak's Katusha take over now. Domenico Pozzovivo sits a few wheels back, looking calm.
Mathias Frank, 5th overall and leader of the best Swiss rider classification, is dangling precariously off the back of the GC group. That's as much of a worry for himself as it is for race leader Pozzovivo, who has no teammates around him now.
Rein Taaramae leads the way for Katusha, who have three men up there, including Spilak. Movistar also have three, with 6th placed Marc Soler joined by Victor de la Parte and Carlos Betancur.
Valerio Conti and Tao Geoghegan Hart, 10th and 13th overall respectively, are dropped.
13km remaining from 160km
This is not good for the race leader. He drifts to the back of the GC group and then loses the wheel. That's a real surprise after how strongly he climbed yesterday. There are 13 kilometres to go - a long, long way.
Nieve has lost contact too, and is being paced by Sebastian Henao.
Rui Costa is also dropped and has joined Pozzovivo.
Rui Costa rides away from Pozzovivo, as does Betancur, who had dropped back from the lead group.
Jan Hirt is fighting to stay in contact with the lead group.
In there we find: Taaramae, Spilak, Caruso, Izaguirre, Kruijswijk, Dombrowski, Soler, Hirt.
Soler is dropped from that front group now.
Caruso, Kruijswijk, and Izaguirre are starting to struggle now.
This is quite a ride from Rein Taaramae. The Estonian has decimated the field, and there are still over 10km to go.
Taaramae and Spilak are alone out front with just Dombrowski (35 minutes down) for company.
9km remaining from 160km
Frank battles back and is about to make contact with Pozzovivo to help him limit the damage.
@TourDeJose Fri, 16th Jun 2017 14:45:09
Wow. Taaramae, Spilak and Dombrowski have 25 seconds on the chasers.
8km remaining from 160km
Taaramae pulls over. His work is done. And what a startling job he has done of thinning out the GC group.
So, we have Spilak and Dombrowski out front. Kruijswijk has set off in pursuit, with Caruso, Izaguirre and Hirt chasing in a trio.
Spilak drops Dombrowski.
A reminder that Spilak started the day fourth overall at 22 seconds.
7km remaining from 160km
Pozzovivo is almost 1:30 in arrears at this point.
@AquaBlueSport Fri, 16th Jun 2017 14:51:59
Spilak isn't tearing away here, as was on the cards. Dombrowski has him at a modest distance, while the American has Kruijswijk and co advancing behind him.
Pozzovivo is rallying with Frank in a trio that also includes Conti. They're 2:20 down on Spilak at the moment.
Soler dropped from the chase. Victor de la Parte takes it up for Movistar in that group with Nieve and Rui Costa.
You can see our visualisation of the situation over to the right of your screens.
6km remaining from 160km
Izaguirre, Caruso and Hirt are coming back up to Kruijswijk and Taaramae.
The gradients stiffen once more and Spilak takes his lead from 15 seconds to 27 seconds. That's over Dombrowski, who's still chasing gamely.
5km remaining from 160km
Dombrowski continues to spin a low gear but he's losing ground to Spilak. 35 seconds now.
Izaguirre accelerates from this first chase group. Hirt follows while the rest dig in.
That chase group are 1:10 down on Spilak now as Izaguirre pulls away.
Pozzovivo seems to have found his rhythm here and he drops Bilbao and Conti in that chase group, with his teammate Frank fighting just to stay near.
4km remaining from 160km
Izaguirre, 14th overall, is looking good here, though his face is a picture of pain. He's closing in on Dombrowski.
3km remaining from 160km
Spilak drives out of the saddle. He has just 3.5km remaining now as the snowy peaks come back into view. There's a short descent down to the 3km to go banner before that 1.7km tunnel we spoke about earlier.
40 seconds for the Katusha man.
Izaguirre catches Dombrowski and they take the dip down to the 3-to-go banner.
2km remaining from 160km
The hardest gradients are out of the way and it's difficult to see Spilak losing this as he enters the tunnel. He still has 40 seconds over Izaguirre and Dombrowski.
Kruijswijk, Caruso, and Hirt come into the tunnel, 1:10 down on Spilak.
We don't have a time check at the moment on Pozzovivo.
Izaguirre distances Dombrowski.
Flamme rouge for Spilak.
Time checks are few and far between in the tunnel.
Izaguirre is on the charge. The Spaniard is 25 seconds back now.
Izaguirre is closing in but once Spilak gets out of the tunnel the road will duck down to the line.
The Katusha rider can't lose this from here.
Spilak sweeps down through the final few hundred metres.
Simon Spilak (Katusha-Alpecin) wins stage 7 of the Tour de Suisse
The Slovenian sprints for every second then lifts his arms as he crosses the line.
Izaguirre comes across in second, 22 seconds back.
Dombrowski third, 36 seconds back.
Here come Caruso, Kruijswijk, and HIrt.
They have lost 1:05.
Taaramae crosses the line next, in seventh place. Crikey, what a ride.
Mikel Nieve is next, 1:45 down, shortly followed by Rui Costa.
Pozzovivo is coming home now with Frank and Bilbao.
An awful day for the race leader. He has lost 2:39 and with it the yellow jersey.
Spilak now leads the Tour de Suisse by more than a minute.
1 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin
2 Ion Izzagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
3 Joe Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale-Drapac
4 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team
5 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
6 Jan Hirt (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
7 Rein Taaramäe (Est) Katusha-Alpecin
8 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky
9 Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates
10 Pello Bilboa (Spa) Astana
General Classification after stage 7
1 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin 26:02:16
2 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team 00:00:52
3 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 00:01:05
4 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 00:02:28
5 Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates 00:02:35
6 Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale 00:02:51
7 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky 00:02:54
8 Jon Izzagirre (Spa) Movistar 00:03:51
9 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 00:04:07
10 Pello Bilboa Lopez (Spa) Astana 00:04:10
We have a first finish-line shot of Spilak
Here is our stage 7 report page:
This is what's on the menu tomorrow - a short, punchy circuit race.
Spilak should survive that stage, and then he just has the final-day time trial to negotiate to wrap up his second overall victory. The Slovenian, remember, finished 2nd in the 2015 time trial - ahead of Fabian Cancellara - on his way to 2nd overall in 2015.
Thanks for joining us today. We'll be back tomorrow with full live coverage of tomorrow's stage.
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