Tour de Suisse: Geraint Thomas secures GC win, Remco Evenepoel bounces back with TT victory
Neilson Powless denied opportunity to battle for spot on GC podium when mechanical forces bike change in final kilometer.
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Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) added to his collection of stage race victories with a GC win at the Tour de Suisse.
Thomas went faster than overnight race leader Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) to score a 1:12 overall victory and finish second on the stage.
Thomas’ Swiss yellow jersey comes as a timely reminder to Ineos Grenadiers of the Welshman’s talent as the team ponders over Tour de France tactics this month.
“It’s super nice to win here, it’s something I always wanted to do,” he said. “It’s nice to win such a big and hard race. The weather, it’s been the hottest race I’ve done consistently.”
Thomas stepped up when teammate Adam Yates left the race with COVID.
“As a team, for sure we can compete with Roglič and Pogačar at the Tour,” Thomas said. “Man versus man is a different story. They’re super talents, as we know, they’ve been MVPs the last couple of years.
“But we’ve got a strong team, just got to stay healthy now. We’re all motivated and we’re just going to go there and give our best.”
Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) bounced back from an off-key week in the mountains with victory in Sunday’s final stage to make it nine wins for the season.
“It was a very difficult week for me with many ups and downs,” Evenepoel said at the finish. “We focused it all on today’s TT and I’m really happy I could win it. It was very close.”
Evenepoel is set to race the Belgian TT nationals next weekend before hunkering down to prep for the Vuelta a España.
“I’m super proud I can finally win a WorldTour time trial. I twice came second, really close, so to come first in front of two big champions is a big honor for me. It’s another step in my career and I think we can keep building on today.”
Home star Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) took the bottom step of the podium in Vaduz.
Jakob Fuglsang (Israel-Premier Tech) started the day third and was almost unseated by American talent Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost).
Powless went faster than Fuglsang through the first 90 percent of the course only to be derailed by a mechanical and bike change in the final kilometers. The 25-year-old rallied but was left with eighth on the stage and fourth overall in a result that nonetheless continues his meteoric rise.
Higuita suffered through the final TT and leaked more than one minute against Thomas, but did enough to hang on for second overall, with Fuglsang third.
Winner of thr Tour de Suisse 22;@GeraintThomas86 (@INEOSGrenadiers )
— Tour de Suisse (@tds) June 19, 2022
Chad Haga (Human Powered Health) was the first strong time trialist to come to the finish on a sizzling hot day in Vaduz, setting the time to beat of 29:51.
Dylan Van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers) went faster shortly afterward and remained in the hot seat some time before his teammate Daniel Martínez made a standout ride to go top.
Favorite for the stage Evenepoel didn’t disappoint after suffering in the mountains. The 22-year-old blitzed the front-half of the course and carried that through to the finish to set his race-winning time of 28:26 – 54kph over the 25.6km course.
Küng steamed through shortly after his young rival. The race’s home star was a shade faster at the intermediate but lost time to Evenepoel in the back half to finish third on the stage.
That’s it! It’s official now!@EvenepoelRemco wins the final stage of the #TourdeSuisse2022, making it ten victories this season! pic.twitter.com/DYRM48EYHV
— Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team (@qst_alphavinyl) June 19, 2022
Thomas was by far the favorite of the GC group and started in pole position to secure the overall after starting just two seconds down on Higuita. The Welshman rode strong while Higuita crumbled and the Colombian’s advantage evaporated.
Thomas rode the TT of his life Sunday, bettering Swiss specialist Küng and handing him a huge boost ahead of the Tour de France.
Ilan van Wilder (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) took a wrong turn midway through his race and did not finish.
The young Belgian talent went the wrong way around a roundabout a plowed into a chainlink fence at high speed. Van Wilder was conscious and speaking but didn’t get back on the bike.
Results will be available once stage has completed.