Richard Carapaz took stage five of the Tour de Suisse 2021 along with the overall lead, after bridging to Jakob Fuglsang in the final 4km and outsprinting the Dane at the line.
Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) left it until the final 5km of the uphill finish stage to kick after multiple riders tried to go clear, chasing down lone leader Fuglsang (Astana-Premier Tech).
Fuglsang tried to hold something back to beat Carapaz but the 2019 Giro d'Italia winner had the final kick to get by in the final 25 metres. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) led the sprint to the line for third place.
Carapaz now holds the overall lead by 26 seconds over Fuglsang as the race heads into the major mountain stages.
How it happened
The fifth stage of the Tour de Suisse started in the finish town of stage four in Gstaad before tackling four climbs over 175.2km to Leukerbad.
It was a very fast start with multiple riders trying to get up the road in the break. Eventually four riders got away including the race leader, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), who was joined by Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain Victorious), Sergio Samitier (Movistar) and Claudio Imhoff (Switzerland) but they did not hold a large gap due to Van der Poel being there.
Ineos Grenadiers, Israel Start-Up Nation, Deceuninck - Quick-Step, Trek-Segafredo and Ag2r-Citroën were all involved with keeping the pace down as the gap was around 1-15 with 40km to go.
Imhoff was dropped a couple of kilometres later due to the start of the second climb of the day. This was the start of the final three kicks after a long ride in the valley floor.
In the peloton, as the peloton went over the second climb of the day, Ineos Grenadiers had taken full control of the pacing with 36km to go, just over a minute to the leaders.
Some very awkward road furniture saw the Ineos riders leave the front of the race with Deceuninck - Quick-Step, BikeExchange, Israel Start-Up Nation and Bora-Hansgrohe taking over with 31km to go, the gap being brought down to 35 seconds.
More really horribly laid out roundabouts meant that half of the peloton went the wrong way and had to cut across the grass to get back to the bunch. Meanwhile, Van der Poel dropped back from the break to rejoin the peloton with Pernsteiner and Samitier getting caught with 28km to go.
The bunch then turned onto an airfield for the intermediate sprint, Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) and Marc Soler (Movistar) both taking bonus seconds as they rejoined the road and headed to the penultimate climb of Erschmatt with 25km to go.
Antwan Tolhoek (Jumbo-Visma) launched a vicious attack gaining an 11 second gap very quickly, leaving Movistar chasing on the front of the peloton at the 24km to go mark. Ineos then took over with Rohan Dennis tapping out the pace.
Esteban Chaves (BikeExchange) was the first main GC name to hit out, as Dennis pulled off with Eddie Dunbar (Ineos Grenadiers) left to chase for his leader with 23km to go. Chaves bridged across to Tolhoek with ease and took up the pacing.
Chaves distanced Tolhoek a kilometre later. The Colombian Chaves pulled out a 24-second lead. The pace from Dunbar in the peloton saw Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates) lose touch with 21km to go.
Tolhoek was dragged back with 19km to go. But Chaves had pulled his gap out to 47 seconds as Dunbar’s pacing seemed to be a bit slower than Richard Carapaz wanted, despite the GC group being strung out.
Jakob Fuglsang (Astana-Premier Tech) forced Dunbar out of the way to go onto the attack with 18km to go, Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation), Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo), Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Carapaz, Domenico Pozzovivo (Qhubeka-Assos) all trying to follow, but the Dane kicked on clear.
Chaves went over the top of the climb with Fuglsang cresting the climb 20 seconds later. Tolhoek dragged his leader Sam Oomen (Jumbo-Visma) back to the chasing group along with Dunbar.
On the descent Chaves got a corner all wrong and went up a driveway which brought him to a stop, cutting a huge amount of time off his lead to Fuglsang and the chasing group with 10km to go. Chaves sat up and waited for Fuglsang to work together but the gap to the chase was not that big.
Fuglsang powered away from Chaves with 5.5km to go and pulled out a very good gap of 38 seconds, Woods was the first to kick but he was countered by a massive acceleration from Carapaz. The Ecuadorian flew by Chaves and kicked on after Fuglsang with 4km to go.
Nobody could follow Carapaz as Woods kept trying to get away but he would kick, look around and sit up again. Alaphilippe, Lucas Hamilton (BikeExchange) and Schachmann all got dropped by a big push by Woods. Alaphilippe found some energy with Schachmann to get back onto the main chase group with Chaves getting caught.
Carapaz caught Fuglsang and immediately attacked, but the Dane was able to follow the kick with 2.5km to go, this left Carapaz to do all the pacing.
Hamilton, Woods and Urán attacked the chase group with Schachmann bridging across. Pozzovivo, Alaphilippe and Chaves got back on and they all sat up again as the leaders went under the flamme rouge with a 28-second gap.
Fuglsang kicked with 200 metres to go but Carapaz followed the wheel well before kicking in the final 25 metres to take the stage and the overall lead.
Carapaz leads Fuglsang in the GC by 26 seconds with Alaphilippe dropping to third at 33 seconds behind Carapaz.
The sixth stage is a short day of 130.1km ,taking on three mountains along the way, perhaps another day for Carapaz from Fiesch to Disentis Sedrum.
Tour de Suisse 2021 stage five, Gstaad to Leukerbad (175.2km)
1. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, in 4-01-52
2. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana-Premier Tech, at the same time
3. Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 39s
4. Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange
5. Rigoberto Urán (Col) EF Education-Nippo
6. Max Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
8. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Team Qhubeka-Assos, all at the same time
9. Esteban Chaves (Col) Team BikeExchange, at 49s
10. Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma, at 1-22.
General classification after stage five
1. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, in 16-42-50
2. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana-Premier Tech, at 26s
3. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) EF Education-Nippo, at 33s
4. Max Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 38s
5. Rigoberto Urán (Col) EF Education-Nippo, at 1-11
6. Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange, at 1-31
7. Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 1-32
8. Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma, at 2-19
9. Esteban Chaves (Col) Team BikeExchange, at 2-22
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Team Qhubeka-Assos, at 3-10.
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