Team Sunweb rider Soren Kragh Andersen won Stage 6 of the Tour de Suisse Thursday, launching a solo attack late in the mountainous 169km stage from Fiesch to Gommiswald to score his first race win of the season.
“It’s still a bit unreal,” said the 23-year-old Danish rider after his win. “I didn’t expect this when I woke up this morning. I’m thankful the team gave me this opportunity to go into the break.”
Stage 6 featured two hors categorie climbs plus a final climb to the finish. Riding his TCR Advanced SL team bike and wearing the Giant Rev helmet, Kragh Andersen joined an early breakaway group of 18 riders that escaped on the Furkapass, the first major climb of the day. After the second major climb, the Klausenpass, and a long ride through the valley, the whittled-down breakaway group hit the final climb with a two-minute gap over the main field.
Austrian Michael Gogl was the first to attack on the climb, but Kragh Andersen chased him down and then made a counter-attack. The young Danish rider held it to the line, taking the first WorldTour win of his career.
“I was surprised that nobody followed Gogl when he attacked,” Kragh Andersen said. “I had to play a hard game and waited. The whole day was super hard. It wasn’t really a day for me with three and a half thousand altitude meters. I’m quite a heavy guy, but I trained hard for it in the last few weeks so it is nice that it paid off.”
The win by Andersen highlights a successful effort by Team Sunweb in a difficult Tour de Suisse, a nine-day stage race that’s seen as a critical tune-up for the upcoming Tour de France. His teammates Wilco Kelderman and Sam Oomen now sit second and third respectively in the general classification with three days left to go. The two young Dutch riders put in a strong effort in the mountains on Stage 5, finishing in an elite lead group to move into contention for the overall. They are both just 32 seconds behind GC leader Richie Porte.
“The team were really focused and always good together in the front,” said Kelderman after finishing Stage 5 fourth in Leukerbad. “They did a perfect job right up until the last climb, then it was up to me and Sam to finish it off.”
In addition to the team’s strong challenge in the general classification, sprinter Michael Matthews scored a second-place finish on Stage 4.
The final three stages of the 2018 Tour de Suisse include another mountain stage Friday, a flatter stage Saturday, and a decisive 34km time trial to decide the overall winner on Sunday.