Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka put its mark on stage 5 of Tour de Suisse with a courageously fighting Ben King as part of the main breakaway of the day.
With a total distance of 220 km and two hard climbs to overcome in the second part of the stage, today’s stage looked to be a good one for a break to make it all the way. Many riders knew this and therefore, the pace was extremely high at the beginning of the day. Despite countless attacks, it was still all together after 70 km of racing.
Finally, a group of six riders managed to distance the peloton. King did very well to infiltrate the front group, which quickly gained a good gap on the peloton. On the top of the HC-climb, Simplonpass, the gap was still around five minutes. However, knowing that today’s stage easily could be the last chance for the sprinters to shine, the peloton never let the front group get too far away.
As the breakaway took on the last 20 km of the stage, the gap had come down to under 30 seconds. Some of the riders at the front dropped back to the peloton but King continued to fight hard. Together with Jesper Asselman (Roompot), the 28-year-old American managed to increase the gap on the pack to over 30 seconds once again. Unfortunately, the stage proved to be a little too long for the two riders who got caught with just 6 km left to go.
In the sprint, Peter Sagan (BORA – hansgrohe) turned out to be the strongest as he beat Michael Albasini (Orica-Scott) and Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors) on the line. King impressed yet another time by finishing in 22nd place despite his huge effort in the break. Damiano Caruso (BMC) still leads Tour de Suisse overall, while Merhawi Kudus moved up to 16th place before tomorrow’s mountain top finish.
Oli Cookson – Sports director:
“After yesterday, we really wanted to get back into the race today. We knew it would be a big fight to make it into the early break so we made sure to be at the front. At the end, it was only the strong guys who made that break and Ben [King] did such a good job to be part of it. We knew it would be difficult to make it all the way but Ben really showed true grit and determination today. There were simple too many sprinters’ teams to chase behind. Tomorrow, it’s a different scenario. We will look to protect Merhawi [Kudus] and maybe put a rider in the breakaway”.