At first, it seemed set to be one other Remco Evenepoel exhibition. When the world champion attacked with 6km of the climb to Villars-sur-Ollon remaining, he appeared destined to place his stamp on the Tour de Suisse.
By the summit, nonetheless, Evenepoel would discover himself in injury limitation mode after he surprisingly struggled on the higher reaches of the summit end to stage 3. He would recuperate barely within the remaining kilometre to put fourth on the stage, 21 seconds behind winner Mattias Skjelmose (Trek-Segafredo).
“Now we have to be content material, we tried,” Evenepoel mentioned afterwards, in line with Het Nieuwsblad. “Nothing is misplaced but, so no drama. I haven’t misplaced the overall classification right here. Now it’s onto tomorrow, it’s one other likelihood.”
On a day of regular rain, Evenepoel had set his Soudal-QuickStep staff to work on the decrease slopes of the ultimate climb, with Mattia Cattaneo and James Knox bringing him to inside 6km of the end.
Solely Mattias Skjelmose (Trek-Segafredo) and Felix Gall (AG2R Citroën) may observe Evenepoel’s preliminary acceleration, which splintered the yellow jersey group and distanced race chief Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ). It was placing, nonetheless, that the most effective of the chasers have been capable of maintain Evenepoel inside touching distance after his preliminary onslaught.
After sitting on Evenepoel at first, Gall and Skjelmose felt emboldened by what they noticed. When Gall attacked with 3km to go, Skjelmose adopted instantly, whereas Evenepoel was left to chase alone, and he was later caught and handed by chaser Juan Ayuso (UAE Staff Emirates).
“I needed to strive one thing to do away with Küng, which I did,” Evenepoel mentioned. “Nevertheless, there have been two riders with me who have been additionally very robust, and perhaps I took just a little an excessive amount of work on my shoulders. I paid for that on the difficult a part of the climb.”
Evenepoel advised the day had confirmed he was nonetheless in need of his greatest after COVID-19 had pressured him to desert the Giro d’Italia final month whereas carrying the maglia rosa.
“I felt it wasn’t in prime kind but. Usually I ought to have the ability to add one other acceleration in that stretch, however that wasn’t on the playing cards as we speak,” mentioned Evenepoel, who drew solace from his restoration within the remaining kilometre.
“I did not utterly collapse both. It was solely two or three unhealthy minutes, after which I received again into my rhythm, so it should be some after-effects [from COVID-19.] However it was nonetheless a great dash ultimately.”
Evenepoel acknowledged, too, that he had taken the burden of the race on his shoulders from additional out than was advisable, and he advised that he would race extra cautiously within the days forward.
He stays second on GC, albeit 17 seconds behind the brand new chief Skjelmose, who had recognized as a dangerman firstly of the day. One other apparent menace comes from Ayuso, who’s now third, simply 7 seconds behind Evenepoel. Sunday’s remaining time trial, nonetheless, stays one thing of a trump card for Evenepoel within the race for general victory.
“Possibly I went just a little too early, however my teammates have been empty, so I needed to go after I did,” Evenepoel mentioned. “Usually, I might go two or 3 times to experience them off my wheel, however that is not on the playing cards but.
“Possibly it wasn’t the neatest factor to maintain driving, so tomorrow, I will probably sit on the wheels a bit extra and depart the initiative to others.”
Though Tuesday’s finale was the lone summit end of the Tour de Suisse, the hardest days of the Tour de Suisse are nonetheless to come back, starting with stage 4, which sees the peloton take within the class 1 ascents of Crans-Montana and Dorben forward of the end in Leukerbad.
“The climbs are even longer tomorrow, and people are completely different efforts,” mentioned Evenepoel.