Italian moves into overall lead by fractions of a second from Damiano Caruso
Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) won stage six of the Tour de Suisse after attacking over the top of the final climb and staying clear on the descent to move into the overall lead.
The Italian rider had seemed content to follow the wheels on the final climb of the mountainous stage six as his rivals, including race leader Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing), attacked.
None of the numerous accelerations were successful, until Pozzovivo launched a stinging attack with 12km remaining near the top of the Albulapass.
The other GC contenders were unable to follow, and Pozzovivo moved away to catch Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac), the last survivor from the early breakaway, at the top of the climb.
At that very moment the heavens opened, creating a treacherous descent to the finish that unnerved for Woods. The Canadian dropped back and was caught by the chasing group, while Pozzovivo pressed on, eventually crossing the line just a few seconds ahead of Rui Costa (UAE Team Emiraites) and Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida).
Damiano Caruso finished 15 seconds back, meaning the Ag2r La Mondiale rider moves into yellow by fractions of a second.
How it happened
The breakaway of the day consisted of ten riders: Matvey Mamykin (Katusha-Alpecin), Tomasz Marczynski, Bart De Clerq (Lotto Soudal), Philip Deignan (Team Sky), Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale), Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac), Carlos Verona (Orica-Scott), Antonio Pedrero (Movistar), Ondrej Cink (Bahrain-Merida) and Simone Petilli (UAE Team Emirates).
However despite their strength in numbers, the break was never able to gain much more than two minutes, an advantage that they held to the base of the final climb up the Albulapass ahead of a descent to the finish in La Punt.
The first attack from the peloton on the Albulapass came from stage three winner Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport) who was followed by Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Sky) and Jan Hirt (CCC Sprandi Polkowice).
Warbasse and Geoghegan Hart faded allowing Hirt to go solo in pursuit of Michael Woods, who had managed to extricate himself from the rest of the breakaway.
Meanwhile the peloton was down to just a handful of riders as BMC Racing set a searing pace, setting up an attack for race leader Damiano Caruso midway up the climb.
That attack wasn’t successful but it set off a series of other moves from the likes of Mikel Nieve (Team Sky) and Ion Izagirre that made for entertaining racing.
The attacks also helped to reel in Hirt with a couple of kilometres to go on the climb, before Pozzovivo became the first to be able to pull himself clear.
The Italian opened a slender ga that slowly grew even as Caruso cooperated with Kruijswijk on the front of the elite chasing group.
By the top of the climb with 10km to go Woods had been caught by Pozzovivo, that duo leading by 28 seconds over the eight-strong GC group led by the yellow jersey.
With a descent to the finish, the heavens opened, making for slick conditions that seemed to put Woods in some discomfort. Faring much better was Rui Costa, who led the chasers at high speed, quickly having Woods within his sight.
Going into the final two kilometres and Pozzovivo was a few seconds clear as Woods was caught and passed by Izagirre, Costa, and Matthias Frank (Ag2r La Mondiale) who had managed to distance Caruso.
The Italian led by 10 seconds under the flamme rouge but had to fight all the way to the line to hold off Costa by four seconds, with Caruso crossing the line 10 seconds further back.
Tour de Suisse 2017, stage six: Locarno to La Punt
1. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale, in 4-38-49
2. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 4 secs
3. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Bahrain-Merida, at same time
4. Mathias Frank (Swi) Ag2r La Mondiale, at same time
5. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin, at 12 secs 0:00:12
6. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, at same time
7. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing, at 15 secs
8. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Astana, at 18 secs
9. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar, at same time
10. Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac, at 21 secs
General classification after stage six
1. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale, in 22-03-28
2. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing, at same time
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo , at 13 secs
4. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin,a t 22 secs
5. Mathias Frank (Sui) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 23 secs
6. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar, at 35 secs
7. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 54 secs
8. Mikel Nieve (Esp) Team Sky, at 1-19
9. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Astana, at 1-42
10. Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 3-02