Good day to you and welcome to our live coverage from stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse. We're in St. Urban and just about ready to roll out for the stage to Gstaad.
It's all about the Saanenmöser climb today which features in the closing stages of the stage. It's 7.5km in length, with an average gradient of 4.4% percent and once we crest the peak it's fast descent to the line. This looks like another stage for a reduced bunch sprint but the climbers will surely try once more.
Last time we had this finish Chris Juul-Jensen won from the break. That was in pouring rain and the finish on the runway was certainly dramatic. I was on the finish line that day, literally. I managed to somehow stand on the wrong side of the barriers and only realised my plight when riders started hurtling towards me. Good win for the Dane that day though, who isn't here this time around having raced the Giro last month.
Really short neutralized zone today and we've almost completed it. Racing will start any minute now...
Here's how things stand on GC coming into today's stage:
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix||8:49:14|
|2||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:00:01|
|3||Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ||0:00:04|
|4||Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:00:06|
|5||Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:00:13|
|6||Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar Team||0:00:16|
|7||Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers||0:00:17|
|8||Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo||0:00:29|
|9||Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto Soudal||0:00:37|
|10||Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education-Nippo||0:00:39|
|10||Alexander Kamp (Den) Trek-Segafredo||0:00:48|
Sun is out @tds @mathieuvdpoel in yellow on his way to Gstaad pic.twitter.com/vBlRAbpy08June 9, 2021
The big news this morning from the start is that Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert have pulledd out of Tour de Suisse after COVID-19 positive.
"Our team withdraws from Tour de Suisse following a positive COVID-test of a team member to limit the risk of contagion inside the team but also for the race bubble," read a statement from the team.
"All pre-race COVID-19 tests of all team members were negative, but an additional test performed on Tuesday morning revealed a staff member is positive despite of not showing any symptom. In agreement with the race organiser and the UCI, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux will not start in Stage 4 of Tour de Suisse."
Alexys Brunel (Groupama FDJ) was another non-starter today.
It's a steady uphill section right after the start but there's just the one categorised climb today. No breaks yet, and we'r all together with 168km to go.
Former white jersey in the race Stefan Bissegger is on the attack and he's brought a handful of riders with him. They've got about 9 seconds on the bunch right now with 164km to go.
No Quinn Simmons. He was meant to be in Belgium but the crash in Unbound ended his hopes of a quick return to Europe. Will he now stay in the US and race nationals in a week or so?
It's a double race day again today with Stage 1 #BaloiseBelgiumTour and Stage 3 #TourdeSuisse 🥳Here we are in Belgium before the start 📸 pic.twitter.com/yIzXSmDbniJune 9, 2021
The five leaders in the race have been caught, so it's back together once again.
Alexys Brunel ne prend pas le départ de l'étape du jour au Tour de Suisse. Il est diminué par des troubles digestifs. pic.twitter.com/rJafKGCkSOJune 9, 2021
Two more riders go on the attack, Pellaud and Schar. They have a small gap as they start a long downhill section on the course. 156km to go.
That two-man move was rather short-lived and we're all back together again.
Away from this race, and the men's GB road team for the Olympic Games is nailed on but will be announced later in the month by British Cycling. The four-man team takes three riders from Ineos Grenadiers and Simon Yates. The full story is here.
Four riders, including James Piccoli, have skipped off the front of the peloton with 145km to go.
No dice and with 138km to go we're back together once more.
We're covered around 40km of the stage so far and it's relatively fast but no break so far has stuck.
Florian Vermeersch is the next rider to try his luck and he's built up seven seconds on the bunch. He'll want some help though, fast.
127km to go and van der Poel and those three leaders are back in the bunch but we have two more groups up the road , a four and a three. Names to come.
So a batch of those attacks have formed a move, there are now six riders up the road and they have a 55 second gap with 124km to go.
120km to go
It's Alpecin Fenix who are on the front now managing the gap as it holds at over a minute. Not sure just yet that this is our break of the day.
The gap is coming down. It was almost two minutes but after just a few minutes it's back down to just 55 seconds. Alpecin Fenix aren't giving an inch today.
It's 44 seconds now. Marcus Burghardt is the highest GC rider in the move at 3'27 but Alpecin clearly want to keep this close, hope that other teams help and then even if van der Poel is isolated on the climb he can then look to fend for himself.
The lead is back up to 1'10 with 107km to go on the stage.
We're getting closer to that final 100km of the stage and Alpecin are just holding the gap to the break at 50 seconds.
98km to go and the bunch brought that group back to within touching distance and that meant a wave of counter attacks and we now have a group of around 16 riders clear.
It's back together before another trio of riders move clear but again the gap is at about 15 seconds with 95km to go.
Three more riders, including Howes and Durbridge are chasing the three leaders but there's only 16 seconds separating the front two groups from the peloton.
The three leaders have just 22 seconds with 87km to go. The pace today has been relentless and the break has never been allowed to settle.
When it's at 20 seconds, I always think that the break should sit up and as soon as the catch is made and then attack again. Frustrate the chase so that in the end they get tired and let you go. But that's why I'm sat in a home office eating cereal for lunch and not in a DS car.
Stefan Bissegger goes on the attack again and is in between the break and the peloton.
75km to go
Stefan Bissegger makes it over so we have four leaders and finally the bunch has sat up and the gap extends to 2'45 with 75km to go.
3'35 for the break now, and it looks like the peloton have eased off for now.
The gap has started to level off now so it's at 3'43 with 69km to go. The peloton are still firmly in control of the stage but at least there's some more balance.
Well the gap looked to be holding but the break have just found almost 90 seconds so the gap is out to 5'12 with 66km to go. That's easily the biggest gap we've had so far today.
The road is gently climbing now but the four leaders are sharing the work well together and maintaining that 5'12 gap on the peloton. There's an intermediate sprint coming up shortly.
Stefan Bissegger is the best placed rider in the break, 6'05 down on van der Poel.
And now Stefan Bissegger is in the virtual lead with the gap to the break at 7'00 minutes. Someone else needs to start mounting a chase or the break could have this.
A few drops of raining falling on the race as Suter leads us through the first intermediate sprint of the day.
Alpecin have a rider in the mix at the front of the bunch but most of the work comes from Cofidis, with Movistar also near the head of the peloton.
51km to go
6'40 for the break now with 51km to go
The gap is starting to tick down as more and more teams post men towards the front with the break holding a 6'37 advantage over the peloton with 46km to go.
Cofidis are working for Laporte here, who was top three yesterday, while the race leader is much further back in the main field. 6'30 for a gap now with 43km to go.
The main climb is still some way off but the gradient has already started to tilt upwards and the break lose a few more seconds with the gap at 6'09 with 39km to go.
The road briefly flattens out but the gap continues to tumble. With 33km to go the gap is at 5'36.
Now it's Movistar who lead the chase with Cofidis drifting back behind them. Ineos are currently the third team on the road.
31km to go and the gap is 5'37. Movistar are not going to close this gap on their own, they need assistance but the Spanish team are looking around. The bunch are sitting up.
5'40 with 30km to go. The break have this.
We could even see a change in race lead because for a almost 1km there's been no real chase.
Astana have moved up, Bahrain too but there's no real intent to chase. 6'17 with 27km to go.
The yellow jersey and his entire team are right at the back of the peloton, as they clearly have no intention of chasing.
Van der Poel is coming back through the cars right now and is on course to lose his race lead. He doesn't look at all bothered.
Stefan Bissegger was the last rider to make it into the break and that looks like an inspired move because he's on course to take the race lead today. 7'15 with 23km to go.
That heavy shower has just hit the peloton with the gap at 7'23 with 22km to go. Stefan Bissegger for the yellow jersey at this rate.
Thomas is perhaps the best climber on paper in the break and Groupama are looking for their second stage win in this year's race.
The four leaders are about 2km from the foot of the main climb and their lead continues to grow. It's at 7'39 now.
Almost eight minutes, so Stefan Bissegger has close to two minutes over van der Poel in the virtual GC. Just 17km to go.
Onto the second cat climb and the leaders have 7'45 over the peloton as the rain starts to fall yet again.
Bahrain have started to lead the peloton. The stage has gone but there's still a GC battle to be had.
15km to go and Joel Suter has been distanced by the rest of the break. The gap is small and he's fighting to get back but it's not looking great for him at the moment.
Joey Rosskopf has two little digs but the other two riders match him with 13km to go. Thomas looks really comfortable.
So three riders left but Suter isn't miles away.
Suter has the leaders in his sights and the gap is less than 25m with 2.5km to go until we reach the top of the ascent.
Bora have kicked things off in the main field and sent a rider up the road. He's been matched by AG2R though. No GC concerns though.
10.4km to go and there's a big attack from Thomas.
7km of descent and then the final 2km are flat.
It's a wet descent in sections as Stefan Bissegger leads the way. He needs to race for yellow at the moment and keep the pace high because the gap is at 6'33. He's slipping out of the virtual lead.
Stefan Bissegger started the day at 6'05 down and he's leading on the descent as he fights for every second. He only has about 15 seconds to play with so it's not looking good for him.
4km to go so we're almost at the bottom of the descent.
It looks like van der Poel will keep yellow as Joey Rosskopf goes again. He's attacked a few times now but just hasn't been able to make the difference.
2.7km to go and this could be a three-man sprint as we hit the airport.
Stefan Bissegger leads and has a bit of gap but Thomas claws him back.
Just 2km to go.
Thomas is forced to the front and Joey Rosskopf goes again. Once more they shut him down.
Joey Rosskopf hits the front and slows it all down.
Thomas is at the back...
It's straight all the way to the line.
500m to go and Joey Rosskopf will lead out.
Thomas remains at the back...
Joey Rosskopf goes first.
Fair play to the EF-Education Nippo rider. He allowed the Rally rider to lead out, and then had the strongest sprint towards the line. He will not take the race lead but what a great consolation. That's his second WorldTour win of the year after he won the time trial at Paris-Nice earlier in the year.
Here are some results for the stage and the overall standings.
|1||Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-Nippo||3:46:21|
|2||Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ||0:0:00|
|3||Joey Rosskopf (USA) Rally Cycling||0:0:00|
|4||Joel Suter (Swi) Switzerland||0:0:23|
|5||Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo||0:05:16|
|6||Juan Sebastian Molano Benavides (Col) UAE Team Emirates||0:05:16|
|7||Omar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech||0:05:16|
|8||Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma||0:05:16|
|9||Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain Victorious||0:05:16|
|10||Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange||0:05:16|
|1||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep||12:40:52|
|2||Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:0:05|
|3||Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar Team||0:0:15|
|4||Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto Soudal||0:0:36|
|5||Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-Nippo||0:0:37|
|6||Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange||0:0:49|
|7||Eddie Dunbar (Irl) Ineos Grenadiers||0:0:55|
|8||Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain Victorious||0:0:55|
|9||Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange||0:0:58|
|10||Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team DSM||0:0:58|
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