Diego Ulissi (UAE Emirates) won the 5th stage of the Tour de Suisse, sprinting to the victory ahead of Enric Mas (Quickstep-Floors). Tom-Jelte Slagter secured the final stage podium spot for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, placing 3rd.
The 5th stage of the Tour de Suisse saw the first mountain top finish and so it was expected to be the first GC shakedown of the race. A fast start to the 159km stage saw it take over an hour before the break of the day formed and when it did, the peloton did not give the 6 leaders much breathing space.
On the penultimate climb of stage, the break splintered in trying to keep its advantage over the peloton, which was being led by Team BMC and Astana. Our African Team was looking after Merhawi Kudus and Tom-Jelte Slagter today, hoping to deliver them to the foot of the final 14km climb in as best shape possible.
Arriving at the final climb, a lone leader had just a minute on the chasing pack and then the attacks started. BMC kept control of proceedings by setting a high tempo at the bottom of the climb, this also saw riders getting dropped one by one from the main group. With 4km to go, the main group was down to just 30 riders and our African Team still had Kudus and Slagter in contention but our young Eritrean soon came into difficulty and got detached.
As the early leaders were caught on the climb, Lilian Calmejane (Direct-Energie) and Mikel Landa (Movistar) both launched attacks of their own on the climb to the finish in Leukerbad. Landa was looking good for the stage by leading the race under the 1km to go banner but the race favourites timed their effort to perfection, making the catch in the final 200m meters with Ulissi going on to take the win. Slagter had played and excellent waiting game up against the bigger GC names, and a measured effort allowed him to sprint to a solid 3rd place on the stage for our African Team.
Tom-Jelte Slagter – Rider
Today was a good day for us. I am really happy with the result and how it went today. The last few days we hadn’t got a good result yet, we spoke about that and we wanted to do better, we knew we could do better. Today we started on the offensive and wanted to be in the race from kilometer zero. Everyone was very motivated to do our very best and the team rode really well. We covered some breaks from the start. In the end on the last 2 climbs I did everything I could to hang on because I knew the finish would be nice for me. I am really happy with my own performance and how my legs were and thankful to the team, for being that motivated and helping to get this result. Hopefully we can move forward with this same motivation and momentum to our next objectives.