Tom Scully led the charge for New Zealand on the penultimate day of racing at the Tour de Suisse. Egan Bernal did enough to hold on to the overall lead on the back of victory in stage 7 and a solid TT with Yves Lampaert taking the time trial honours.
Stage 7 of the Tour de Suisse was set to be decisive in the general classification with the second summit finish in as many days. The day was set to be a long one at 216.6km in length and featured two monstrous climbs including the final ramp up to the finish. After missing out on the stage win the previous day Egan Bernal wasn’t going to miss out twice.
The break of the day featured Groupama-FDJ’s Steve Morabito, Movistar’s Winner Anacona, AG2R La Mondiale’s Mathias Frank, Jumbo-Visma’s Koen Bouwman, Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Michael Albasini and Tsgabu Grmay, and Dimension Data’s Gino Mader. Behind them the peloton were led by a combination of Bahrain-Merida and Team Ineos; with the latter protecting the lead of Egan Bernal.
The stage was always going to be decided on the final climb of the day, but even before that Koen Bouwman had attacked. The break’s lead sat at 2.30mins with 25km to go, but Bouwman’s attack didn’t last long before he was back in what was left of the breakaway. Gradually and predictably the break fragmented until only Mathias Frank was left out in front. He would last until Team Ineos led the charge courtesy of Ben Swift.
At 5km to go the lone leader was caught and Swift kept the pace up for Bernal before peeling off for Kenny Elissonde to take over. Elissonde’s stint at the front didn’t last long but it didn’t need to. After chasing down Enric Mas of Deceuninck-Quick Step it was the turn of his team leader Bernal to take centre stage.
Bernal launched his attack with 2.8km remaining and there was no one to go with him. The Colombian showed his worth as he put 23 seconds into Domenico Pozzovivo and Rohan Dennis of Bahrain-Merida. That put him in the overall lead by 41 seconds from Dennis with Patrick Konrad of BORA-Hansgrohe still hanging on to third overall by just 4 seconds from Pozzovivo.
Scully saves best for last in final TT
The second of the race’s time trials, 19.2km starting and finishing in Goms, was expected to be a battle of the time trial specialists and far less favourable than the opening short time trial for the sprinters. It turned into a day for Deceuinck-Quick Step with Yves Lampaert and Kasper Asgreen setting the two fastest times of the day but the day began with Tom Scully spending a good deal of time in the hot seat.
Scully started the day 124th of the 138 riders and he set the early benchmark with a time of 22.11mins; an average speed of 51.931kph. From here it would be a case of waiting for a good chunk of time before he was finally succeeded by Lampaert who would go on to win the stage and be the only rider to go sub-22 minutes in 21.58mins.
Shortly after Lampaert his teammate Kasper Asgreen and Søren Kragh Andersen of Team Sunweb also bettered Scully’s time to send him to 4th place. Patrick Bevin managed to almost match Scully, finishing just fractions of a second slower than his compatriot to secure fifth place ahead of Rohan Dennis.
Egan Bernal conceded 19 seconds to Dennis but he held on to his overall lead by 22 seconds.
Afterwards Patrick Bevin reflected on his performance in the time trial, the one that had been his major goal of this week. “It was a tough, deceptively hard course. It was quite exposed in the valley so the wind really funneled through and there was no hiding,” Bevin said from the team’s website.
“I wanted to win it. I thought on a good day, with my power on the course, I would be close. Unfortunately, the power wasn’t quite there and I finished fifth. The pieces are getting better and getting closer, but it’s a tough discipline and you have to get it all right on a single day. I do believe that will happen but it wasn’t today.”