Gall Wins Stage 4 of Tour de Suisse
Wednesday’s Stage 4 of Tour de Suisse 2023 was a 152.5-kilometer mountainous challenge from Monthey to Leukerbad. The race organizers had designed a route that included the Category 1 Crans-Montana climb (14.6 kilometers; 6.7 percent average gradient), the Category 3 Varenstrasse, and the Category 1 Höhenweg. It was the penultimate chance for climbers to shine in this year’s Tour de Suisse.
With the short length of today’s stage, riders did not waste any time before they launched attacks after the race was given free. Following a series of attack attempts, a twelve-man breakaway group was established that featured Nickolas Zukowsky (Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team), Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos-Grenadiers), Stan Dewulf (AG2R-Citroen), Kristian Sbaragli (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Nikias Arndt (Bahrain-Victorious), Gino Mäder (Bahrain-Victorious), Lilian Calmejane (Intermarche-Circus-Wanty), Lluis Mas (Movistar Team), Luca Mozzato (Arkea-Samsic), Kevin Vermaerke (Team DSM), Daryl Impey (Israel-PremierTech), and Lotto-Dstny’s Pascal Eenkhoorn.
Zukowsky was dropped from the group on the Category 1 Crans-Montana climb, but the remaining eleven riders managed to preserve a lead of approximately two minutes over the chasing main peloton.
On the descent that followed, Mozzato was also dropped from the front group, and he joined forces with Zukowsky. Meanwhile, a duo featuring Fabio Felline (Astana) and Jeremy Cabot (TotalEnergies) had attacked from the main peloton, but they had no more than a 15 second advantage over the chasers.
The chasers were caught with 38 kilometers left of today’s stage 4. The front group now consisted of nine riders that had a two-minute advantage over the chasing peloton spearheaded by Jumbo-Visma.
AG2R-Citroen’s Felix gall launched a strong attack together with a teammate with twenty-one kilometers left. Meanwhile, Soudal-Quickstep were leading the chase in the main peloton group.
Gall bridged the gap to the remains of the breakaway group. The group was now a quintet featuring Gall, Narvaez, Mäder, Calmejane, and Vermaerke. The quintet, however, did not remain intact for long as Gall accelerated again and went solo.
Frenchman Romain Bardet (Team DSM) attacked from the main peloton, while World Champion Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) was dropped.
With 15.5 kilometers left, Gall was in front and had a 01:07 minute advantage over the chasing main favorites group that featured about twenty-five riders including race leader Mattias Skjelmose (Trek-Segafredo), Bardet, Wilco Kelderman (Jumbo-Visma), Ion Izagirre (Cofidis), Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-EasyPost), and a suffering Evenepoel who was dropped every time someone accelerated at the front.
Gall took many chances on the descent that was included midway on the Höhenweg/Dorben climb. Evenepoel, Uran and others managed to reestablish contact with the chasing favorites group on the descent. But would they have the energy needed to remain with the main challengers on the next ascent?
While Gall powered on in front, Oier Lazkano Lopez (Movistar Team) attacked solo to try to bridge the gap and aim for a stage win in beautiful Switzerland.
Bardet attacked from the decimated favorites group. Kelderman and Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) tried to counter but were caught by a reinvigorated Evenepoel and other favorites. The group now worked well together to deliver a powerful chase effort.
With 5 kilometers left, Tour de Suisse leader Skjelmose moved to the front of the chase group, while Gall had a 01:18 minute advantage in front and Bardet was 01:01 minutes ahead of the chasers.
Bilbao and Kelderman attacked from the favorites group and bridged the gap to Bardet, but the trio was caught by the chasers. Bardet tried his luck again.
Gall crossed the finish line in solo fashion as winner of stage 4 of Tour de Suisse 2023. Evenepoel was next across the finish line followed by Skjelmose.
In the general classification Gall took over the lead from Skjelmose. Gall is now two seconds ahead of Skjelmose in the GC, while Evenepoel is sixteen seconds behind in third.
Thursday’s stage 5 of Tour de Suisse 2023 will be a a 211-kilometer ride from Fiesch to La Punt. The long stage features no less than two Hors Categorie climbs – the Furkapass and the Albulapass – and the Category 1 climb Oberalpass.
Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for additional coverage from Tour de Suisse 2023 and please click to visit Wiggle to buy bike equipment and apparel.