Race report

On the attack in the mountains where Andreas Leknessund takes 10th place

Tour de Suisse

Photo Credit: Cor Vos

A short but sharp 130 kilometre long stage in the Swiss mountains lay ahead of the riders this afternoon. Leaving the start town of Fiesch, the peloton would hit the difficult Gotthardpass immediately, with its seven percent average gradient for eight kilometres. As expected, it was a ferociously fast start to the day with numerous attacks at the head of the race while several groups of riders simultaneously had to let go at the back of the peloton. Over the top of the ascent a quartet escaped, including the fourth placed rider on GC, and as a result the pace stayed high.

Eventually those ahead were caught and a large counter attacking group got clear with Søren Kragh Andersen, Mark Donovan, Andreas Leknessund and Romain Combaud riding well to make the move for the team. On the Lukmanierpass their gap continued to grow and the attacks started, with Kragh Andersen punching clear first. Some riders set off in pursuit, including Leknessund, with the duo riding well together as Kragh Andersen dug deep to set a strong tempo before pulling over. Leknessund continued at his own pace before being caught by a chasing group over the top of the climb, which included Donovan. The group slowly ate into the lone leader’s advantage and heading onto the final climb it was almost back together.

Attacks started again and it became a battle between tactics and legs, with a few riders managing to escape to fight it out for the stage win. After being helped by Donovan, Leknessund managed to attack out of the chasing group in the final kilometre to claim a strong tenth place finish for the team; his first WorldTour top ten result.

“It was a really tough day,” expressed Leknessund at the finish. “The first climb was really hard and everyone went full gas on it. Things then eventually calmed down and a big group got away which we managed to get four guys in which was good. Going into the last climb it was just full gas and trying to go as fast as possible. In the final it was really hard, I think everyone was suffering and for me it was one of my hardest days on the bike so far. I’m happy with the performance. The legs have been good the past few stages and it’s nice to do well on climbs like this. The next few days will be hard as well and we’ll have to see how they go.”

Team DSM coach Marc Reef added: “It was a hard start with a nine kilometre climb where the bunch exploded. We were in some moves and at the top we had still had five guys in a group of around 35 behind the leading quartet. After the gap stayed the same until around kilometre 60 where the jumping started again, and we did well to get four riders in the group of roughly 40 up the road. On the last long climb it exploded, Søren made a move where Andreas reacted to and they worked well together. In the end, Andreas went over the top in a group of seven behind one leader. Some guys still came back to Andreas’ group, including Mark, who also did a strong race as well. From then on the attacks started in the group on the final climb. Andreas followed some moves, but then a few riders got clear and in the end he finished a good tenth place for us. In the peloton, Tiesj had a good day together with Thymen and they both finished in the GC group. Tomorrow is a tough TT and we’re looking forward to it.”

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 KRON Andreas Lotto Soudal 3:14:52 60
2 COSTA Rui UAE-Team Emirates ,, 25
3 PERNSTEINER Hermann Bahrain - Victorious 0:01 10
10 LEKNESSUND Andreas Team DSM 1:00 -
19 DONOVAN Mark Team DSM 2:16 -
25 ARENSMAN Thymen Team DSM 2:49 -
36 BENOOT Tiesj Team DSM ,, -
69 SÜTTERLIN Jasha Team DSM 12:53 -
79 COMBAUD Romain Team DSM ,, -
92 KRAGH ANDERSEN Søren Team DSM 15:13 -