Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) won the final stage of the 2014 Tour de Suisse on Sunday, and with it overhauled Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) to take the overall win for a third consecutive year.
Bauke Mollema (Belkin) finished a few seconds down to seal third place overall, while Mathias Frank finished third on the day to move up to second overall.
Costa becomes the first ever rider to win three consecutive editions of the Tour de Suisse, and is one away from equalling Pasquale Fornara’s record of four overall wins.
The win is also his first in the rainbow stripes, and marks him out as a possible contender for next month’s Tour de France.
Costa, Frank and Mollema all ambushed overnight leader Tony Martin by going on the attack around fifty kilometres from the finish, just before the category one Eischoll climb. While they had teammates from the original break available to drop back and help them, Martin was left completely isolated in the peloton, and ultimately lost 2-18 to Costa to finish fourth overall.
Once it became clear that Martin’s group was not going to catch them, the trio began riding against each other. Frank – needing nine seconds over Costa – was the first to attack with 3.5kms to go, but was easily followed. A second effort proved harder to mark but Costa dragged his way back to Frank’s wheel before upping the pace himself. The Swiss rider could not follow, and Costa went on to finish alone.
Frank then dropped a chain in the final sprint and lost ten seconds to Mollema, which was not enough for the Dutch rider to leapfrog him into second overall.
Prior to these attacks, it took a long time for the lead group to be sure that Martin would not catch them. Although Martin’s lack of teammates allowed the gap to swell quickly to 2-30, it began to decrease again on the lower slopes of the final climb with Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano teammate of Tom Dumoulin, who was second overall) took to the front.
The gap eventually steadied at 1-40, with Martin still needing 35 seconds to maintain his lead over Costa, and, with Barguil having finished his effort, began to go up again. An acceleration from Eros Capecchi (Movistar) 8kms from the finish again saw the gap come drastically back down to 1-40, but this pace was unable to be sustained and once again the break extended their lead to over two minutes.
There had been many attacks earlier in the day, including Jon Izagirre (Movistar) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) attempted to shake up the GC by escaping into the break. Neither was allowed much leeway, however, and the break that did get away was never allowed to get much of a lead.
In fact, the lead was small enough to allow Costa, Frank and Mollema to catch the lead group when they attacked, with the likes of Steve Morabito (BMC) and Oliver Zaugg (Tinkoff-Saxo) holding on to finish in the top 10 on the day.
Tour de Suisse 2014, stage nine: Martigny - Saas-Fe
1. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida in 4-13-14
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 0-14
3. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling at 0-24
4. Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC at 0-47
5. Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Tinkoff-Saxo st
6. Andre Cardoso (Por) Garmin-Sharp at 1-28
7. Jeremy Roy (Fra) FDJ at 1-41
8. Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling at 1-48
9. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 1-48
10. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo at 2-18
Final Overall Classification
1. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida
2. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling at 0-33
3. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 0-50
4. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 1-13
5. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 2-04
6. Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing at 2-47
7. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale at 3-00
8. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo at 3-03
9. Javier Acevedo (Col) Garmin-Sharp at 3-20
10. Eros Capecchi (Ita) Movistar at 3-46
Tony Martin hangs on to his overall lead in the Tour de Suisse with one stage remaining
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Stephen Puddicombe is a freelance journalist for Cycling Weekly, who regularly contributes to our World Tour racing coverage with race reports, news stories, interviews and features. Outside of cycling, he also enjoys writing about film and TV - but you won't find much of that content embedded into his CW articles.