Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) moved into the overall race lead in the 2016 Tour de Suisse on Thursday after a rain-soaked stage six featuring a summit finish.
The 25-year-old Dutchman finished in fifth place behind stage winner and compatriot Pieter Weening (Roompot Oranje Peloton), who had survived from the day’s 15-man escape group.
Weening’s breakaway companions Maximilliano Richeze (Etixx-QuickStep) placed second and Maciej Paterski (CCC Sprandi) in third.
Stage four winner Richeze put in a phenomenal performance given that his talents lie more as a sprinter than a climber. He now leads the points classification for his efforts.
British contender Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) appeared to be suffering on the tough final climb to Amden, getting distanced by his GC rivals in the final two kilometres and finishing at the same time as overnight leader Pierre Latour, 5-22 down on Weening and 51 seconds down on Kelderman.
Kelderman now leads Frenchman Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) overall, with American Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) putting in a strong ride to move up to third overall at 19 seconds.
Thomas slips down to eighth overall at 56 seconds with work to do over the coming days to elevate himself to a podium position.
American hope Tejay van Garderen (BMC) was another casualty on the final climb, dropping from the lead group and eventually finishing 28th and just under two minutes down on Kelderman.
Several notable riders found the adverse weather conditions and climbing too much, and withdrew from the race. Lieuwe Westra (Astana), Lars Boom (Astana), Kanstantsin Siutsou (Dimension Data) and Tiago Machado (Katusha) were among those who sought sanctuary in their team cars.
Friday’s stage seven features another mountain finish, with the riders battling it out up the hors categorie climb to the finish in Sölden after 224.3km – the longest stage of the race. Then it’s on to the key stage eight individual time trial on Saturday, and into the final stage on Sunday.
Tour de Suisse 2016 stage six, Weese – Amden (162.8km)
1. Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot-Oranje Peloton, 4-33-47
2. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Etixx-Quick Step, at 2-37
3. Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice, at 3-57
4. Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale, at 4-13
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 4-31
6. Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale, st
7. Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Alpecin, st
8. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Movistar, at 4-35
9. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col), at 4-36
10. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha, at 4-39
16. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky, at 5-22
28. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing, at 6-22
Overall standings after stage six
1. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, 22-43-12
2. Warren Barguil (Fra) Giant-Alpecin, at 16s
3. Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale, at 19s
4. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Movistar, at 34s
5. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col), at 39s
6. Pierre Latour (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 51s
7. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha, at 52s
8. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky, at 56s
9. Gorka Izagirre (Esp) Movistar, at 59s
10. Jarlinson Pantano (Col) IAM Cycling, at 1-03