Swiss rider escapes a break of four as the peloton takes a day off
Grégory Rast (RadioShack-Leopard) took a rare individual victory as he won the sixth stage of the 2013 Tour de Suisse, between Leuggern and Meilen on the banks of the Zurichsee lake, as he raced on roads close to his hometown. The 33-year-old Swiss rider was part of a four-man breakaway, which had escaped in the first 30km of the stage and allowed an enormous lead by the peloton. The four riders rode well together until the final three kilometres, when the attacks began, and Rast managed to get away from the others with a kilometre to go and ride solo to the finish.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) beat John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) in a close sprint for fifth place, more than ten minutes later.
The four riders escaped 30km into the 188km stage, and were allowed to build up a lead of almost 15 minutes as the rest of the peloton enjoyed a relatively easy day.
The quartet worked together until just over three kilometres to go, when Grabsch finally broke the truce. Despite three attacks from the former World time trial champion, however, it was Rast that finally managed to escape under the flamme rouge with a kilometre to go and rode alone to take an emotional victory.
Race leader Mathias Frank (BMC Racing) enjoyed a trouble-free day, with his team marshalling the peloton behind the four riders; none of whom was any threat to his yellow jersey.
It takes some time for the break to go, but once it’s gone…
After a frenetic opening 30km Hayman, Kolobnev, Rast and Grabsch managed to escape and, once the four riders were clear, the peloton sat up and allowed them to build their lead. At the 50km point, just 20km into their break, they were already 6’40” clear, as BMC Racing calmly led the peloton behind them.
With Rast the best placed of the four riders, some 25’32” behind Frank in 82nd place, there was little for the American team to worry about and, 95km into the stage, the gap had opened to 12 minutes.
As Rast led over the 3rd category Schwändistrasse Fesisberg with 78km to go, the gap was still widening, and it was to peak with 40km remaining at a massive 14’47”, before beginning to come down as the four riders began to take shorter turns on the front.
Rast rolled through the intermediate sprint, in Küsnacht with 29km to go, with the gap still more than 14 minutes, however, and the leaders soon arrived at the foot of the 3rd category Limberg climb. Despite the gradients reaching upwards of 11%, there were no attacks in the breakaway group, and they were still together as Kolobnev led over the top with 24.6km to go.
Spread across the road as it made its way up the climb, the peloton was 12’25” behind as it rolled over the summit; by which time the four leaders were inside the final 15km and making their way towards the second intermediate sprint.
Still no attacks in the break and no hurry in the peloton either
Despite the relatively easy pace several riders found themselves dropped off the back on the climb’s steepest section, but would likely have little trouble chasing back on and after the descent. The four breakaway riders were still riding well together as Kolobnev rolled over the sprint line, in Stäfa with just 12.1km left.
With no more obstacles left, as the four riders made their way down to the lakeside with ten kilometres to go, the opportunities for any one of them to attack were now very limited. Grabsch was the fastest down the hairpin descent, and the twisting streets that followed, but the small gap that the German managed to pull out over the others was easily covered as the roads widened and straightened afterwards.
With four kilometres left the four were still taking their turns in a line, as they had been doing since they broke away more than 150km before. Having taken his turn and drifted to the back, however, Grabsch was the first to make a move. The former World time trial champion was only able to get a few metres clear of the others before the reaction came, and the group’s co-operation evaporated.
Grabsch tried again, but the quartet was still together as it rolled under the two kilometre banner, with all four riders looking round at the others.
As the rest all rolled almost to a halt Grabsch tried for a third time, but he was caught just before the flamme rouge and, this time, Rast went over the top and was away. The Swiss rider managed to open up a wide gap almost immediately as the others hesitated and, after briefly checking over his shoulder with 150 metres to go, sat up to celebrate a rare individual victory.
With Grabsch now spent, Hayman and Kolobnev fought out the second place 25 seconds later, with the Australian just getting ahead.
Argos-Shimano took over from BMC Racing as the peloton entered the final kilometres, but Saxo-Tinkoff led into the finishing straight. It was Sagan that had the best line into the final corner, however, taking the sprint for fifth place ahead of Degenkolb.
Result stage 6
1. Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack-Leopard
2. Mathew Hayman (Aus) Team Sky @ 25s
3. Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha Team
4. Bert Grabsch (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 28s
5. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling @ 10’43”
6. John Degenkolb (Ger) Argos-Shimano
7. Arnaud Démare (Fra) FDJ
8. Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
9. Davide Cimolai (Ita)
10. Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
Standings after stage 6
1. Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team
2. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 23s
3. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar Team @ 35s
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ @ 57s
5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling @ 1’08”
6. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp @ 1’23”
7. Tanel Kangert (Est) Team Astana @ 1’26”
8. Jean-Christophe Péraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale @ 1’28”
9. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team @ 1’39”
10. Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge @ 1’42”