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Road Racing

Tour de Suisse stage 6: Tolhoek claims summit victory as Bernal takes yellow

Dutch climbing talent Antwan Tolhoek holds off Egan Bernal on Tour de Suisse summit finish

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Dutch climber Antwan Tolhoek held off Egan Bernal (Ineos) to take his first professional victory on stage 6 of the Tour de Suisse.

The Jumbo-Visma rider was the only survivor of the day’s early break to hold off a late charge by Egan Bernal (Ineos) from the main group of contenders atop of the climb of Flumserberg. By placing second at 17 seconds, Colombian Bernal moved into the overall lead of the race with a 12 second margin on Rohan Dennis.

François Bidard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), who’d also been in the break, placed third, with Jan Hirt (Astana) taking fourth.

“Three years ago I was here with [Team] Roomport and won the mountains jersey,” said  Toelhoek. “Now I have taken my first pro victory here, on a World Tour level, it’s really special.

“My team mate Bert-Jan Lindeman was pulling so hard today,” he added. “I’m really happy I could finish it off.”

The break formed about 20km into the 120km leg from Einsedeln. Although numbering 25 and, at one point taking a wrong turn, they hit the bottom of the final climb with a lead of a little under two minutes.

A dead-end climb that steepens through verdant meadows to a 1220m summit finish high above Lake Walen, the Flumserberg presented a finish suited to Toelhoek’s talents.

The diminuitive 25-year-old -whose bike was memorably commandered in the Giro by Primoz Roglic when their team car stopped for an ill-timed pee-break– chucked in one of the first attacks on the climb with 7.5km remaining. Joined first by Luis Mas (Movistar) and then Patrick Bevin (CCC), he kept company until striking out again just before Bidard and Rui Costa (UAE-Emirates) bridged up to them.

While Tolhoek continued to gain on these riders from 3.5km to go, there was little question that fresh riders from the main group could yet spoil his party. However, it wasn’t until into the last two kilometers, with Ineos’ Kenny Elissonde putting the hammer down, that the GC racers really came alive.

Bernal struck out with a little over one kilometer to go, mopping up all other remnants of the break. But having gone under the red kite with a 50 second lead, Toelhoek had enough margin to hold him off.

“I heard on the radio he was coming,” said Tolhoek. “I didn’t want to look back because last year in California he also beat me. I said to myself: no way, I’ll win today.”

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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