The Alpecin-Fenix rider survived on the tough final climb as the climbers set a strong pace, eventually making it into a two-rider sprint with Bora-Hansgrohe’s Max Schachmann, with Van der Poel comfortably sprinting to the win.
It was a brutal day of racing in Switzerland as downpours began to lash the peloton in the closing kilometres, as Van der Poel thrived thanks to his experience as a multiple cyclocross world champion.
Speaking after the finish, the 26-year-old said: “I really enjoyed being back on the road bike. It was a super fun stage, especially with the rainy conditions at the end. It was a bit of a Classics parcours at the end, something that really suits me and I’m happy to finish it off.”
Van der Poel made his return to the peloton at the Tour de Suisse after focussing on the recent mountain bike World Cup rounds, as he targets Olympic gold on the MTB this summer.
But Van der Poel showed no rust in the Tour de Suisse, keeping pace with the likes of Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) on the final climb of the day,
Van der Poel said: “If you see which riders I’m racing against, this was a very difficult [win].
“I wanted to grab a stage win here. The first three days suit me well and then it’s up to the climbers, it gets really tough.
“I’m just happy to get the win and I’m really proud of the guys. I asked them to make the race hard 50km from the finish and they did it perfectly.”
Van der Poel is using the Tour de Suisse as preparation for his debut in the Tour de France later this month, where he hopes to win a stage before turning his attention to the Olympics.
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