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Tour de Suisse stage 7 - live coverage

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Stage 7 of the Tour de Suisse brings the peloton from Ambri to a summit finish at Malbun. The 194.6km stage features the category 1 Lukmanierpass and the category 3 ascents of Flims and St. Lutzistieg ahead of the 12.8km hors categories ascent to the finish. The peloton will roll out of Ambri at 11.00 local time and the race is scheduled to hit kilometre zero at 11.12.

Who is and who isn't? After 30 riders abandoned the Tour de Suisse with COVID-19 yesterday morning, there is a certain apprehension about today's start in Ambri. Four teams left the race en masse yesterday, and a similar volume of withdrawals could prevent this race from completing its course. So far, there is one confirmed non-starter to report, with Groupama-FDJ announcing that Quentin Pacher has abandoned the Tour de Suisse after testing positive for COVID-19. The rest of the Groupama-FDJ team will continue in the race. Although none of Groupama-FDJ's riders and staff reported symptoms, they all underwent testing last night in the wake of the mass abandons earlier in the day.

Bora-Hansgrohe have now announced that Marco Haller is a non-starter after he tested positive for COVID-19 this morning. The team already lost race leader Aleksandr Vlasov and Anton Palzer ahead of yesterday's stage.

The suspense at this Tour de Suisse has not been limited to the signing-on ceremony before each stage. Jakob Fulgsang (Israel Premier Tech) carries a lead of one second over Geraint Thomas (Ineos) into today's stage with Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) a further 9 seconds back in third. Some eight riders lie within a minute of yellow. 

The day's first question is answered.  The show goes on. The Tour de Suisse peloton is negotiating the neutralised zone ahead of the formal start of stage 7. We believe that Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ) and Marco Haller (Bora-Hansgrohe) are the only non-starters to report, though we await confirmation.

The top three in the overall standings have all signed on and started this morning. Fuglsang sets out with one second in hand on Thomas and 10 on Higuita.

Sander Armee (Cofidis) is also a non-starter, leaving 84 riders in the Tour de Suisse peloton for its final road stage.

-194km

Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) is an immediate attacker, but the Portuguese rider is quickly brought to heel by the peloton.

-186km

Daniel Martinez and Adam Yates were the men expected to lead Ineos' Tour de Suisse challenge this week, but instead Geraint Thomas is the man flying the flag. The Welshman was second overall behind that great enigma Simon Spilak in this race in 2015. Seven years on, he is within touching distance overall victory, even if his Ineos team has lost both Yates and Tom Pidcock to COVID-19. "For sure, everyone's had a few ups or downs, the winter was really bad for me, but it's nice to be back in the mix, whether it's doing lead-outs or riding for GC. Keep the body guessing!" Thomas said after stage 6. Alasdair Fotheringham has the full story here.

-168km

And although Pinot, over 6 minutes down, was the best placed on GC, the move is quickly shut down. Gruppo compatto. 

-161km

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That's almost a quarter of the remaining Tour de Suisse peloton up the road, incidentally. The best placed riders on GC are Burgaudeau (17th at 4:36), Pinot (18th at 6:20) and Masnada (19th at 6:54).

Baptiste Plackaert, who was the first man to bridge up to Oliveira and Champoussin, has dropped back to the peloton.

-147km

-141km

-139km

Israel Premier Tech and Ineos set the tempo in the peloton, 3 minutes behind the escapees.

-137km

Thibaut Pinot finished with the yellow jersey group yesterday and now he is testing his climbing legs as part of the day's early break. "The heat will have a big influence again today," Pinot said before the start. "Tomorrow’s time trial is a useful test but for me the big tests here at the mountain stages. Yesterday was the first real test for me and today is another one. With the coronavirus, we’re trying to be as careful as possible and hopefully we can have a calm Tour de France in that regard."

-130km

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-118km

The tempo in the peloton has stalled considerably. Fuglsang, Thomas, Higuita et al are 7:35 behind the leaders as they begin the long descent of the Lukmanierpass. Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies) is the virtual race leader, though Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) is closing in on him.

There's a long, long drop off the Lukmanierpass and, perhaps sagely, Pinot and Berthet look to be sitting up and waiting for the twelve chasers to join them. 

-105km

-99km

-96km

Ineos and Israel Premier Tech are combining smoothly at the head of the peloton in defence of the positions of both Geraint Thomas and Jakob Fuglsang. Burgaudeau remains in the virtual lead, but they have pared the break's advantage back inside 6 minutes. 

While Fuglsang holds yellow, the onus is on the Dane to put some time into Thomas this afternoon given that the Welshman would ordinarily be favoured in Sunday's concluding time trial. Sergio Higuita, by a similar token, knows he needs to go on the offensive this afternoon. And none of the contenders will want Stefan Kung, still 7th at 49 seconds after yesterday's mountain stage, to stay that close to top of the standings with tomorrow's time trial to come. We can expect fireworks on the final ascent of Malbun, across the border in Liechtenstein.

-83km

-80km

-73km

Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco) sets the tempo at the head of the break on the climb to Flims. The Australian wears the black jersey of points leader after leapfrogging Andreas Leknessund (DSM) yesterday and he will hope to pick up enough points in the sprints later today to bring that jersey to Vaduz tomorrow.

Back in the peloton, meanwhile, Luke Rowe (Ineos), Daryl Impey and Patrick Bevin (Israel Premier Tech) set the pace, 4:15 behind the break.

-70km

Flims is over 1,000m above sea level, but even at this altitude, the temperature is still some 28°C. As Pinot suggested before the start, the heat will certainly be a factor this afternoon.

-68km

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-47km

Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) is perched near the head of the peloton with his lone remaining teammate Jonas Rutsch for company. The American lies 4th overall, 26 seconds behind Fuglsang.

-40km

Away from the Tour de Suisse, there has been another UAE Team Emirates exhibition at the Tour of Slovenia on the key summit finish at Velika Planina. Rafal Majka took the stage honours after breaking clear with race leader Tadej Pogacar 5km or so from the summit. More details here.

-31km

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-20.5km

-16km

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-12km

The break hits the final 12km climb to Malbun with a lead of 3:33 over the peloton. We can expect this group of 14 to fragment rapidly once the gradient starts to bite.

Clement Champoussin, second yesterday, and Michael Matthews have been distanced by the break on the lower slopes of the climb as the break starts to splinter under pressure from Alexey Lutsenko.

-11km

Ineos take over in the peloton at the bottom of the climb, with Omar Fraile setting the pace on behalf of Geraint Thomas, who also has Dylan van Baarle and Dani Martinez for company.

-10.5km

Thibaut Pinot begins to move... The Frenchman bridges across to Van Wilder, and this duo is 11 seconds down on the two leaders, Lutsenko and Izagirre.

-10km

Break:

-9km

There are two races within a race here. Pinot is clawing his way up to Lutsenko as he vies to make his way up to Ion Izagirre. 3:27 down the road, Max Schachmann has strung out the yellow jersey group on behalf of Sergio Higuita.

-8.5km

-7.5km

Schachmann's stint of pace-making ends and Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) has a tentative dig. The yellow jersey Jakob Fuglsang follows him before Dani Martinez takes over for Ineos

-7km

Pinot has finally bridged up to Lutsenko, but they aren't getting any closer to Izagirre, who is pedalling with great fluidity on this climb.

Dani Martinez sets the pace in the yellow jersey group, with Thomas, Higuita, Fuglsang, Reichenbach, Evenepoel, Grossschartner, Pozzovivo, Powless and Stefan Kung among the riders who remain in contact.

-6km

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-4.5km

-4km

Pinot is 30 seconds behind the lone leader Izagirre. Lutsenko is the third man on the road. The yellow jersey group is at 3:01.

Felix Grossschartner, who began the day 5th at 34 seconds, has been dropped by the yellow jersey group as Martinez continues to turn the screw.

-2.5km

-2km

Back in the yellow jersey group, Andreas Leknessund (DSM) has been distanced. Stefan Kung looks to be still hanging in there.

Ion Izagirre has blown and he has been caught by Alexey Lutsenko. The Kazakhstani is still a threat to Pinot...

Stefan Kung, Max Schachmann and Remco Evenepoel have been dropped from the yellow jersey group, finally burnt off by Martinez's pace-making. 

Powless is also distanced. Only Fuglsang, Thomas and Higuita are still with Martinez as he puts in his final push before swinging off.

Dani Martinez swings off and as soon as he does, Higuita accelerates. Fuglsang leads the chase with Thomas on his wheel.

Higuita enters the final 2km with a slight advantage over Fuglsang and Thomas, and he could be riding into the yellow jersey. The Colombian began the day just 10 seconds down on Fuglsang.

-1km

Behind, Higuita looks to have 10 seconds or so on Fuglsang and Thomas, which would suffice to put him - just - into yellow ahead of tomorrow's time trial.

Higuita is gradually stretching out his advantage on Fuglsang, who still has Thomas locked on his wheel as they enter the final kilometre.

Higuita has blown past the struggling Izagirre, but there are still at least three riders ahead - Pinot, Lutsenko and Oscar Rodriguez (Movistar) - which means there are no bonus seconds on offer for the Colombian at this point.

Pinot, meanwhile, is into the final 300 metres. Stage victory is his.

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) wins stage 7 of the Tour de Suisse.

Oscar Rodriguez (Movistar) caught and passed Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) to take second. Lutsenko is third at 40 seconds.

Further down the road, Thomas has attacked and dropped Fuglsang. The Welshman sets off in lone pursuit of Higuita and he is closing in on his prey on the run-in to the finish.

Higuita takes fourth on the stage and looks over his shoulder to see Thomas closing in on him. Thomas appears to have been a litte over 10 seconds behind Higuita. That means the Colombian would take the yellow jersey, but Thomas looks best placed to take overall victory in tomorrow's time trial.

Fuglsang lost 29 seconds to Higuita and 18 seconds to Thomas. Higuita will be the new yellow jersey, just two seconds ahead of Thomas. 

Confirmed: Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) is the new leader of the Tour de Suisse.

Result

General classification

MALBUM, SWITZERLAND - JUNE 18: Thibaut Pinot of France and Team Groupama - FDJ celebrates winning during the 85th Tour de Suisse 2022 - Stage 7 a 194,6km stage from Ambri to Malbun 1560m / #tourdesuisse2022 / #WorldTour / on June 18, 2022 in Malbun, Switzerland. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

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