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Tour de Suisse 2018: Stage 7

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of stage 7 of the Tour de Suisse. This is one of only two summit finishes at this year's race, with an hors-categorie and near-30km ascent to Arosa on the menu. There's not much else to the parcours but the final climb should see some fireworks. 

The riders have rolled out of Eschenbach and have completed the neutralised section, so stage 7 is officially underway.

 

The breakaway stuck yesterday - though only just in the end - and it seems today there's plenty of interest again in the rolling roads of these opening kilometres. 

 

We have a group of around 30 riders off the front of the peloton at the moment.

 

This large breakaway has opened a lead of 1:15 over the peloton. We'll bring you names shortly.

 

150km remaining from 170km

The break hit the early Category-3 climb.

 

Greg Van Avermaet is in this break, teammate of race leader Richie Porte. How will BMC play this one today? Tanel Kangert seems the best-placed rider on GC in the break, at 1:59.

The breakaway names for you. I make that 29.

 

Jose Gonçalves (Katusha-Alpecin), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Michael Albasini (Mitchelton-Scott), Simon Geschke, Michael Matthews (Sunweb), Silvan Dillier, Cyril Gautier, François Bidard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Oscar Gatto, Tanel Kangert (Astana), Gorka Izagirre, Mark Padun (Bahrain-Merida), Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-hansgrohe), Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo), Victor De La Parte (Movistar), Yves Lampaert (Quick Step Floors), Igor Anton (Dimension Data), Joe Dombrowski (EF Education First), Enrico Battaglin, Koen Bouwman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Sebastian Henao, Ian Stannard (Team Sky), Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates), Stefan Denifl, Mark Christian, Eddie Dunbar (Aqua Blue Sport), Lilan Calmejane, Romain Sicard, Rein Taaramae (Direct Energie).

 

140km remaining from 170km

With 30 kilometres on the clock, the break have a lead of 1:30.

 

One name that stands out on that list is that of Mark Christian. The Aqua Blue rider was in the break yesterday but a mechanical problem saw him dropped and prevented from taking what he said would have been the best result of his career. 

 

"I'm absolutely fuming, to be honest. I've never been so pissed off," he told my colleague Josh Evans at the finish line. 

 

Christian seemed to blame the 3T bikes the team are using, with their novel 1x drivetrain. "Probably the best legs I've ever had in a race and then the fucking bike just let us down again. I can't say any more about it, to be honest."

 

Click here for the full story.

 

 

Of little consolation to Christian was the fact he picked up the mountains jersey yesterday, and today it was he who took maximum points atop that early Cat-3 climb.

 

1:45 the gap as BMC keep a lid on things.

 

As the race settles down, why not catch up on yesterday's action. Soren Kragh Andersen won from the break, while Richie Porte rode Nairo Quintana and everyone else off his wheel on the late climb to extend his overall lead. 

 

Tour de Suisse: Kragh Andersen wins stage 6

 

 

Two minutes is the gap. We're still a long way from the final climb and it could be a pretty quiet day in the saddle...Feel free to grab lunch...

 

Another stand-out name in the break is that of Michael Albasini. The Swiss rider always shines on home turf, but he even has history on this very terrain. The Tour de Suisse visited Arosa back in 2012 and Albasini won from the break....Will lightning strike twice?

 

Here's how it unfolded that day

The average speed for the first hour of racing was 38.6km/h. 

 

108km remaining from 170km

The gap between break and bunch rises to 2:15 as the riders descend to Altstäeen. 

 

That puts Kangert in the virtual lead of the race.

 

Our top story today features Vincenzo Nibali and his preparations for the Tour de France. My colleague Stephen Farrand went to see the Italian in the Dolomites this week, following him on a training ride before discussing the upcoming Tour. 

 

Nibali begins final Tour de France preparation in the Dolomites - Gallery
 

 

86km remaining from 170km

The 29 breakaway riders are allowed a little more leeway now. 3:30 is the new gap. 

 

It's BMC on the front of the peloton, keeping things under control for overall leader Richie Porte. Greg Van Avermaet is allowed a day off as he's up in the break. 

 

The final climb may be a HC ascent of nearly 30km, but it's not all that difficult. The tough part is in the last few kilometres but before that there'll be a long section in the big ring. 

 

In other news, Mark Cavendish has been confirmed for the British national championships later this month. The Manxman is having another tough season but is hoping to be back to his best at the Tour de France. Here's the full story.

 

Movistar come to the front of the peloton to assist BMC. They also have a man in the break in Victor de la Parte, but are aware of the danger posed by Kangert in particular. 

 

60km remaining from 170km

The gap is down to 3:10 with 110km on the clock. The break are basically in the middle of that flat section you can see on the stage profile. 

 

 

Three minutes now, thanks to the work of Movistar. 

 

With over half of the stage covered, the gap to the 29 leaders hovers around 3". The day's big challenge is the climb to the finish at Arosa - 27.4km at an average of 4 2%.pic.twitter.com/gQQp6kDxfM

We're now approaching the final climb. Under the impetus of Quintana's Movistar, the peloton has strung out and the gap has come down towards the two-minute mark.

 

Matthews takes the points at the first of the two intermediate sprints.

 

The pace from Movistar and BMC eases and Taylor Phinney accelerates as the riders reorganise themselves and try and get their leaders well positioned ahead of the climb.

 

27km remaining from 170km

Onto the climb!

 

A steep little stretch on smooth cobbles signals the start of the climb. Stannard is immediately dropped, and KOM Christian loses contact now, too. Goncalves leads the way.

 

Attack from Quintana!

 

The Colombian attacks immediately as the climb begins.

 

Fuglsang follows Quintana but can't handle the pace and drops back. No response yet from Porte.

 

Quintana roars past Stannard and Gatto from the break.

 

Dombrowski attacks from the break now.

 

Richie Porte goes about closing Quintana down as the peloton explodes.

 

Porte has Kruijswijk and Fuglsang for company. No sign of the Sunweb duo of Kelderman and Oomen - second and third overall.

 

Porte, Kruijswijk, Fuglsang catch Quintana now.

 

Quintana goes again!

 

Quintana roars clear once again and sweeps up yet more of these breakaway remnants.

 

25km remaining from 170km

Still 25km to go and Quintana catches Dilier, who fights to get back on the wheel. The gradient will soon ease considerably.

 

Tejay van Garderen comes back to help Porte in a yellow jersey group that has swelled to 10. Kelderman, Oomen, and Mas are all there now.

 

Dombrowski has opened up a lead of 44 seconds here.

 

Quintana has found 20 seconds on Porte and co.

 

No sign of Ion Izaguirre or Jack Haig in the GC group.

 

Quintana passes Gorka Izaguirre, Yves Lampaert, and Koen Bouwman in quick succession.

 

And now Quintana links up with his teammate Victor de la Parte. This was well set up by Movistar. De la Parte can now offer a windshield for Quintana on this flatter section.

 

And Van Avermaet is now sitting up for Porte, with Van Garderen having finished his turn.

 

Here are the names in that yellow jersey group

 

Porte

Kelderman

Oomen

Fuglsang

Mas

Landa

Mollema

Spilak

Kruijswijk

Calmejane

Vichot

 

Dombrowski still leads but he only has 30 seconds now, with Quintana closing in at 45 seconds.

 

The last of the breakaway stragglers are taking advantage of the gentler gradients to latch onto the back of the advancing Quintana.

 

Quintana has 25 seconds over Porte and the rest of the GC contenders.

 

18km remaining from 170km

Quintana and De la Parte are now just 25 seconds down on Dombrowski and closing fast.

 

Van Avermaet is still on the front for Porte. 40 seconds is the gap to Quintana.

 

Dombrowski is caught by the Quintana group.

 

Quintana started the day 45 seconds down on Porte.

 

Quintana's in the big ring with 10 breakaway remnants tied to his wheel. They're enjoying the free ride at the moment.

 

It's pretty much a straight fight at the moment between Van Avermaet and Quintana, and it's the BMC rider who's edging it on this flatter section. 34 seconds is the gap now.

Landa attacks now!

 

We all know about these two cards Movistar have to play here - and will have to play at the Tour de France. Landa shakes things up with a brief dig but it lacked conviction.

 

The gap is holding at 35 seconds for the moment. We've still got several kilometres before the climb ramps up for its steepest section.

 

Van Avermaet brings the gap down below the 30-second mark now. Quintana is getting no help from the breakaway riders up front.

 

Porte will be happy with this situation. Quintana is going all-in here while he can sit in behind a teammate and keep himself a bit fresher for the steeper section.

 

6km remaining from 170km

6.5km to go now and the gap stands at 26 seconds.

 

4km remaining from 170km

Quintana finds some more seconds again now. 32 seconds the gap as the road dips dow hill in anticipation of the steep section, which averages nearly 10 per cent.

 

A full-on sprint from Van Avermaet on the approach to the steep section and the Olympic champion shreds the yellow jersey group. What a ride from him today.

 

And that acceleration launches Porte...

 

Up front Quintana accelerates and drops many of the breakaway riders on the steeper gradients.

 

Porte is flying up though.

 

Porte's turning a huge gear as he grinds his way up out of the saddle. The rest of the GC riders are further back down the road.

 

18 seconds now is the gap between Quintana and Porte.

 

3km remaining from 170km

Quintana has Muhlberger on his wheel - the last survivor from the break.

 

Quintana starts to drop Muhlberger now but Porte is still advancing. 8 seconds...

We're in for a dramatic finale here.

 

3km remaining from 170km

3km to go and Quintana has 10 seconds on Porte. Both riders are on their own.

 

Porte looks over his shoulder. Fuglsang, Kruijswijk and Spilak are there not too far behind. Quintana, however, has found new ground... 15 seconds.

 

And now 20 seconds for Quintana! Is Porte struggling? Fuglsang now accelerates and makes it back to Porte.

 

Porte and Fuglsang pass Muhlberger.

 

Kelderman is losing ground here.

 

2km remaining from 170km

Quintana has 18 seconds in hand now and looks good for the stage win with 2km to go. 

 

Fuglsang comes through for a turn now, providing Porte with a little respite.

 

1km remaining from 170km

Quintana still looks sprightly as he springs out of the saddle. Still the Colombian has 18 seconds. It's not going to be enough for yellow but it should be for the stage win.

 

Quintana crests the climb now and has just over a kilometre's run-in to Arosa.

 

1km remaining from 170km

20 seconds is the gap back to Fuglsang and Porte.

 

Into the flat final few hundred metres for Quintana. He has this in the bag.

 

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) wins stage 7 of the Tour de Suisse

 

The Colombian celebrates on the other side of the line, and now we look back to Porte and Fuglsang. 

 

They cross the line 22 seconds down, Fuglsang taking second, Porte third. Porte keeps yellow.

 

Muhlberger is in next with Kelderman, Mas, and Anton.

 

Kruijswijk and Landa are next in at 51 seconds.

 

Oomen as well now, losing a minute. 

 

Spilak and Mollema both lose over a minute.

 

Meanwhile Ion Izaguirre, Diego Ulissi, and Jack Haig - who all started the day in the top 10 - ship more than two minutes.

 

Top 10

 

1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 4:01:39
2 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:22
3 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team
4 Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:38
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb
6 Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors
7 Igor Anton (Spa) Dimension Data
8 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:50
9 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team
10 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:59

 

General classification after stage 7



1 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 26:06:10
2 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:17
3 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:52
4 Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:53
5 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:01:13
6 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:01:28
7 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:31
8 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:01:37
9 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin 0:01:48
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:02:26

Quintana may not have taken yellow - and stands very little chance of winning the overall with a time trial the only decisive remaining stage - but what a stage win!! 

 

It seems a long time ago now, but the Colombian attacked from 27 kilometres out! 27... For much of the flatter section he was on his own while Porte had Van Avermaet, but he still managed to hang on to a gap and then rode away from Porte once again when the road steepened in the final few kilometres. He's looking good ahead of the Tour.

 

 

Here's a word from Quintana

 

"I heard over the radio that they were coming back and were pretty close, but I wanted to maintain a strong strong rhythm and it was enough to make it all the way to the line, even if it was with a fairly small margin."

As for the Tour de France...

 

"It's important to know that I'm in good shape ahead of the big objective that's ahead. That puts me and my team at ease."

There were hugs and smiles between Quintana and Landa beyond the finish line...

 

Here's our report page, where you can find a write-up, results, and photos

 

Tour de Suisse: Nairo Quintana wins stage 7

 

 

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