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Welcome to live coverage of stage 6 of the Tour de Suisse. The riders are on their way through the neutral zone as I type and we can expect racing proper to begin in 10 minutes.
It is another mountain day for the peloton but it is a very different stage to what they experienced yesterday. Right from the bat, we have the Furkapass and that is followed by the Klausenpass. From there the riders will head through the valley before a short rise to the line in Gommiswald.
Yesterday saw Richie Porte assume the race leadership after his teammate Stefan Kung cracked on the final climb. Team Sunweb got Wilco Kelderman and Sam Oomen into the top 3 yesterday, putting them into an interesting position for today's stage.
1 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 17:03:53
2 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:20
3 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb
4 Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:21
5 Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:29
6 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:33
7 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:36
8 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:40
9 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:46
10 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:47
With two hors categorie ascents to deal with today, the mountains classification is well and truly up for grabs. Romain Sicard leads the standings at the moment after an aggressive ride yesterday.
1 Romain Sicard (Fra) Direct Energie 22 pts
2 Lawrence Warbasse (USA) Aqua Blue Sport 20
3 Filippo Zaccanti (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini 17
4 Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 16
5 Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 15
6 Willie Smit (RSA) Katusha-Alpecin 15
7 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 12
8 Fabien Grellier (Fra) Direct Energie 12
9 Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 8
10 Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data 8
The flag was dropped for racing a short while ago and it is another aggressive start to the day. All of the 144 riders that made it to the finish in Leurkerbad yesterday have signed on this morning.
After a bit of a grey day yesterday, the sun is out for the peloton. It's a pleasant 20 degrees out there, perfect for a bike ride.
A large group of 16 riders have jumped off the front of the peloton. They have a slim lead on the peloton, which is being managed by BMC Racing.
Today is the queen stage of the Tour de Suisse and the time limit has been calculated to match. The limit is 15 per cent of the winning time, which gives the gruppetto around 45 minutes to make it to the line. With the toughest parts in the opening part of the stage, that should be more than enough for the dropped riders.
It looks like this 16-man move could well be the break of the day. They've got 1:20 on the peloton behind with two riders trying to chase on at 30 seconds back. BMC still maintain a watchful eye at the head of the peloton.
The riders in the breakaway are: Izagirre, Kragh Andersen, Konrad, Wynants, Gogl, Vanmarcke, Gautier, Dougall, Haas, Monfort, Taaramäe, Gołaś, Cort Nielsen, Christian, Quemeneur and Polanc with Keisse and Declercq chasing behind. No news on which Izagirre brother it is, but my guess would be Gorka.
Confirmation that the the Izagirre brother in the move is indeed Gorka. He is almost four minutes down in the general classification while Ion is just 36 seconds back. The breakaway now has 2:05 on the peloton with the two chasers 36 seconds off. The break is big enough that they don't necessarily need the two Quick-Step chasers but they are two hard workers and would be invaluable if they hope to stay away from the peloton.
Furkapass is first on the menu very soon. Thanks to the organiser for this stunning picture of the climb.
15 of the 22 teams at the Tour de Suisse are in the breakaway and that will be 16 if Quick-Step can get their two into the move. Direct Energie are currently the only team that have two in the breakaway. The French team have been very active during this year's Tour de Suisse and seem quite keen on winning the mountains classification.
Of the teams with riders in the top 10 overall five are on the attack, if you include the two chasers. BMC Racing have chosen to keep all their riders to help with the pace setting, while Movistar and Mitchelton-Scott are also missing from the breakaway. We may see a few riders using their teammates up front as a springboard for an attack later
News in over race radio is that Keisse and Declercq have made contact with the lead group. We now have 18 riders out front and with the Belgian pair helping out the chances of the breakaway contesting the stage win has increased. It all depends on how the peloton decide to play it.
Lotto Soudal's Maxime Monfort is the best placed rider in the breakaway. He's just 2:31 down on the race leader Richie Porte. They will not want to let him get too far up the road.
Their ranks bolstered, the 18-man breakaway has three minutes on the peloton behind. BMC Racing continue to work on the front of the peloton.
The leaders are less than 10km from the top of the first KOM. There are 20 points available at the top and if either Quemeneur or Kragh Andersen cross first then they will take the lead in the competition. Quemeneur has six points at the moment while Kragh Andersen has three.
Mark Christian also has three points in the competition and has a chance to nab the jersey. However, it is Quemeneur that is the more accomplished climber and with a teammate to help him in this break he stands the best chance of all to take the lead in the mountains competition.
Given the gap as it stands, Monfort is the virtual race leader.
Aqua Blue have Christian in the breakaway today but they had Larry Warbasse on the attack yesterday. The Tour de Suisse was the scene of his biggest career result last season. He wasn't able to replicate the performance yesterday, but he gave it a red hot go. He spoke with Cyclingnews after the stage. Read his comments here.
The break has been whittled down on the climb with eight riders being dropped on the ascent. They are: Polanc, Gautier, Wynants, Dougall, Golas and, Keisse, Declercq and Vanmarcke. They will have the chance to make it back up once they crest the climb and hit the descent.
The break has been whittled down on the climb with eight riders being dropped on the ascent. They are: Polanc, Gautier, Wynants, Dougall, Golas, Keisse, Declercq and Vanmarcke. They will have the chance to make it back up once they crest the climb and hit the descent.
We're also hearing that Scott Davies (Dimension Data) has climbed off.
Nathan Haas has taken the points at the top of the climb. A pretty good effort considering he finished third in the sprint finish on stage 2. Christian gets 15 points for second (putting him up to 18) with Monfort third. Quemeneur got six points for fourth, which increases his tally to 12.
The gap is now close to four minutes as the leaders descend into the valley. The road will level out around halfway down before the riders descent again towards the foot of the second climb of the day, the Klausenpass.
As expected, the riders dropped on the climb have been able to use the descent to join back up with the leaders to give us a full complement.
Actually, one rider has not been able to make the juncture as of yet. Keisse remains behind the rest of the leaders.
If you haven't heard it yet, a new issue of our podcast came out last night. It takes a look back at yesterday's stage of the Tour de Suisse and Andre Greipel's ongoing contract discussions with Lotto Soudal. You can find the podcast here.
The leaders are halfway down the descent and Keisse has made contact with the front group. We now have all 18 riders at the front of the race.
Today's stage honours Swiss legend Ferdi Kubler. Today's second climb was Kubler's local ascent while he claimed the 1947 mountains classification on the Furkapass. Kubler, who died in December 2016, was the first Siwss rider to win the Tour de France. Hugo Koblet would become the second when he won it the year after. No Swiss riders have since won the Tour's GC.
The leaders are about to reach the bottom of the valley. They won't have long down there before they start climbing again.
As ever at the Tour de Suisse and last week's Criterium du Dauphine, there is lots of new tech on show. We had a look at some of the new integrated aero cockpits being ridden this week. Have a look at what we found, here.
108km remaining from 186km
Almost halfway into the stage and the leaders have had their advantage cut down just a little bit. They have 3:10 on the BMC Racing-led peloton.
Before the riders reach the second climb of the day, they will be able to enjoy a spot of lunch as they pass through the feed zone. They'll need it with 25-kilometres of ascending before they get to the top. It's another HC climb so yet another 20 points available for the first man over the top.
Nathan Haas is just two points off the lead of the mountains competition after taking the full compliment on the Furkapass. Mark Christian is also close at just four points down. Perrig Quemeneur could also take the jersey but he is now 10 points down after only managing fourth on the first climb. It should be a decent battle at the top of the climb.
89km remaining from 186km
With less than 90km to go the gap now stands at 3:32. The leaders are about to hit the Klausenpass.
The breakaway is fracturing again as the road heads upwards. Keisse was the last to make it back to the leaders after getting dropped on the first ascent and he's one of the first to be dropped on the Klausenpass. Polanc is with him but they are fighting hard to get back on.
The peloton is once again closing the gap. The dropped risk being brought back by the bunch before they hit the top of the climb. Being dropped so early it's going to be tough to minimise the loss of time to the leaders.
Today could be a day for the breakaway, but with Monfort in the move at the moment, it will be hard for them to stay away. It will be interesting to see if the break try to drop him.
After the climb, there will be two intermediate sprints. None of the riders in the breakaway have enough points in this classification to overhaul Peter Sagan to take the black jersey.
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 22 pts
2 Calvin Watson (Aus) Aqua Blue Sport 19
3 Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors 16
4 Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott 15
5 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 14
6 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 12
7 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb 12
8 Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 9
9 Mark Christian (GBr) Aqua Blue Sport 9
10 Filippo Zaccanti (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini 9
Stage 2 of the Women's Tour is approaching its finale. Jolien D'hoore won yesterday's stage in her first race since breaking her collarbone in a crash on the track just three weeks away. They make them tough in Belgium. Read what she had to say after her victory, here.
Mitchelton-Scott's Sam Bewley has climbed off. Bewley as had a busy start to the season and played a big role in the team's Giro d'Italia.
More riders have been dropped off the leading group, including Dougall, Wynants, Konrad and Declercq. They were all dropped on the first climb.
In normal circumstances, you would expect Konrad to be right up there but he too has come out of the Giro d'Italia. He finished an impressive seventh overall at the corsa rosa. He's obviously feeling the strain now.
The gap is coming down still and hovers around three minutes. They had a maximum advantage of close to four minutes on the first climb but the peloton doesn't look like they want to let this one go away.
Stage 2 of the Tour of Slovenia finished in a bunch sprint. There were no massive crashes today, thankfully. To find out who won, click here.
Race leader Richie Porte has been looking fairly comfortable in the bunch so far today. Will any of his rivals try something on this second climb of the day.
Taaramae has attacked the breakaway and he's quickly built up a substantial lead of 38 seconds. Meanwhile, Quemeneur has been dropped from the breakaway.
Taaramae is holding the gap at 40 seconds from the chasers. The peloton continues to close them down, however.
Taaramae goes over the top in first place with Mark Christian taking second and Nathan Haas in third. If my rudimentary calculations are correct, Christian should have the lead in the mountains classification.
Konrad is brought back by the peloton, which is being led by Michael Schar. Meanwhile, Taaramae has extended his advantage to a minute. He now has almost five minutes on the peloton.
64km remaining from 186km
Lots of extra layers going on as the peloton begins the descent. There have been no attempts just yet from Porte's rivals to try anything from this distance. It would be a long way to go with BMC still strong in number.
It is a long, sweeping descent off the Klausenpass. Not something you'd like to do if you get travel sick. There is little room for error for the riders and if you misjudge a corner then there are some long drops off the side.
Yet another abandon from a rider who did the Giro d'Italia. Tim Wellens is the second rider to climb off today after Bewley.
A crash on the descent. JJ Rojas has hit the deck on a corner but it looks like he's ok.
Up front, it looks like Taaramae has been told to sit up and wait for the rest of the breakaway. The car paid a visit to him and his lead has tumbled to just over 10 seconds. He's happily eating lunch and blows a kiss to the camera.
Taaramae has been brought back by the chasers. The gap to the peloton is 4:30 as they continue descending into the valley. We have eight riders up front, down from the original 18 at the start of the day.
It's hard to get a proper look at who exactly is in the remaining group of eight but it looks like it is: Rein Taaramae, Soren Kregh Andersen, Gorka Izagirre, Michael Golas, Nathan Haas, Maxime Monfort, Mark Christian and Cyril Gautier.
Vanmarcke, Golas and Cort all appear to have been dropped before the top of the climb.
BMC scything down the descent and stringing thins out. They still have all six support riders with Porte, who is sitting in the middle of the BMC line-up.
The gap was coming down to the leaders but with 45km to go the breakaway has leveled it out at 3:40. It could be touch and go between the breakaway and the peloton.
42km remaining from 186km
If the breakaway does succeed today then Nathan Haas could be a good bet for the victory considering how well he's been climbing today and his fast finish.
It's not all over for some of the dropped riders. A group containing Vanmarcke and Golas are just 30 seconds back on the leading eight.
Away from the racing, WADA has published a report on the use of tramadol within cycling. The report concluded that use of the pain killer is rife within the sport. Read more on the subject, here.
Schar is no longer in the BMC line after that descent and Simon Gerrans has taken up the pace setting. He's shaved a few seconds off the lead of the eight escapees but the chase has stagnated somewhat.
36km remaining from 186km
We finally get sight of the chasing group and Magnus Cort is with Vanmarcke and Golas in that chasing group. They're still bobbing around the 30-second mark.
Lotto Soudal reporting that the reason for Wellens' abandon on that second climb of the day was down to fatigue. He quite the Giro d'Italia after falling ill late in the race.
Izagirre puts in a bit of a dig and takes Haas and Christian with him. They are brought back, but this looks like the first of a few mind games in the build-up to the finale.
30km remaining from 186km
Nobody helping BMC Racing out at the moment. Team Sky are sitting just behind but have put no men up there to assist. The breakaway have lost 20 seconds but they still hold the advantage and Monfort remains the virtual leader with 30km to go.
A reminder that Monfort started the day just 2:31 behind Porte in the overall classification.
A replay shows a mechanical issue for Mark Christian. His chain has popped off and he's still trying to make his way back up to the leading group.
Of course, Christian is on the 3T bike which has just one chain ring. They're not easy to switch out quickly because they need to be set up so a mechanical issue can be quite costly in terms of time. It has had mixed reactions from the riders.
An overhead shot shows that Christian is a long way back. In fact, he's lost 23 seconds and has been caught by the three chasers.
They can see the riders up front and with four versus seven they might make the juncture. There is some discord between the seven leaders with Taaramae being quizzed about not working. Haas paid him a visit a short while ago.
Gogl is driving things on and splits the group in half. It comes back together but without Taaramae. It looks like he's paying for his efforts on that second climb and he's waiting for the chasers to catch him.
With this slight discord up front, the peloton have been able to take a bit more time off the breakaway. It is still 3:06 and the break is looking more and more likely that they could stay away. They're having to put in a huge effort on the flat roads to keep the bunch at bay.
De Marchi is now pulling on the front of the peloton for BMC Racing and still no teams coming up to help them. They are having to do all the work here and if they can't bring this down then they could well lose the yellow jersey. Who'd have thunk that?
Kragh Andersen is told by his DS Marc Reef to sit on the back wheel. Of course, he has Keldermand and Oomen behind, who sit in second and third overall at the moment.
Stage 2 of the Women's Tour finished a little while earlier. To find out who won, click here.
13km remaining from 186km
Taaramae is caught by the peloton. He just ran out of gas earlier on. We have six riders in the lead group with four chasers behind. The gap to the peloton is 2:52 now.
We get a quick time check on the chasers. They are 32 seconds back on the leaders and Mark Christian shakes his head, perhaps lamenting his poor luck.
Peter Sagan is in the main group, but it looks like the Bora-Hansgrohe team doesn't seem interested in chasing this down. They're happy to let BMC do the work and see what happens.
9km remaining from 186km
Bahrain-Merida are now moving up the side of the peloton. Are they going to help with the chase or are they just moving to the safety of being relatively close to the head of the bunch? The gap has dropped quite a bit now to 2:24.
The chasing group is now 42 seconds back.
6km remaining from 186km
With six kilometres to go, it looks fairly certain that one of the breakaway riders will take the win, but who will it be?
There are bonus seconds on the line, but as things stand, even if Monfort were to win it wouldn't be enough to take the yellow jersey.
4km remaining from 186km
Heading towards the final three kilometres, the other GC teams are moving up towards the front. This is more of a safety thing rather than trying to chase these six down. We have one short third category climb to come for the riders.
BMC is now getting muscled out by the other teams and they're having to battle hard to keep Richie Porte up towards the front. Team Sunweb working on the front.
Movistar also making their way forward. Mikel Landa tried a long-range attack yesterday. It is Nairo Quintana on the front at the moment.
The four chasers are getting caught. Golas is the first to be brought back and Cort has been caught too.
2km remaining from 186km
Gogl attacks the breakaway
Katusha take up the pace setting in the bunch along with FDJ
Porte now moves up to second wheel with Quintana in his wheel. They catch Christian and Vanmarcke.
Quintana, Spilak and Fuglsang follow. Mas is up there too.
Ommen is grinding his way up but it looks like Kelderman has been distanced. Quintana has gone pop too.
Porte continues to push on and he's finally dropped all of his rivals.
Up front, Kragh Andersen catched Gogl just before the KOM.
Porte is hovering up the breakaway riders. He catches Monfort under the flamme rouge.
There is no attempt to chase down Porte in the peloton.
Kragh Andersen has 200 metres to go. Haas is chasing behind.
Kragh Andersen wins. Haas takes second place nine seconds later.
Izagirre comes home in third place and Porte finishes just behind him.
Porte gained around 11 or 12 seconds on the rest of the GC riders.
We'll have to see what that does to the GC but Izagirre has helped himself a bit with that effort. Porte has given himself a bit of a bigger buffer, there is no doubt about that.
We have the top 10, which looks much the same but Porte now has a 32-second lead in the competition.
Soren Kragh Andersen had this to say after his victory.
"It’s still a bit unreal I didn’t expect this when I woke up this morning. I’m thankful the team gave me this opportunity to go into the break. How the team helped me in the break, it was super nice that it worked out. It was a relief for me.
"I was surprised that nobody followed Gogl when he attacked. I had to play a hard game and waited. I was with Monfort and then after that time was running out and to dig deep to see if I could catch up with Michael. It worked out.
"It was super hard. The whole day was super hard. It wasn’t really a day for me with three and a half thousand altitude metres. I’m quite a heavy guy but I trained hard for it in the last few weeks so it is nice that it paid off."
This is how today's stage finished.
1 Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb 04:59:53
2 Nathan Haas (Aus) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:10
3 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:24
4 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal 00:00:25
5 Cyril Gautier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
6 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 00:00:27
7 Michael Gogl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo 00:00:29
8 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:39
9 Arthur Vichot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
10 Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale
This is what the stage has done to the overall classification.
1 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 22:04:13
2 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 00:00:32
3 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb
4 Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:33
5 Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 00:00:41
6 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 00:00:45
7 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:48
8 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:52
9 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:58
10 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:59
Sam Oomen remains in the lead of the young rider classification. He's just one second ahead of Enric Mas, which was the time gap at the start of the day. It should be good battle between the two in the coming days.
Richie Porte on the podium after extending his race lead.
Here's Christian with his new bear, and the blue jersey. He could take it all the way to the finish but he'll have a big fight on his hands tomorrow.
For a recap of today's action, head to our race report, with photos and full results.
That's all from our live coverage today. Don't forget to come back tomorrow for coverage of stage 7, another day in the mountains. what will Richie Porte's rivals do to try and unseat him?
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