Tour de Suisse #9: Natnael Berhane shows good form to finish 12th on final stage

Natnael Berhane 4 Suisse Stage 5

Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) won the shortened final stage of the Tour de Suisse. In the select group sprint, Sergey Chernetski (Katusha) finished 2nd and Jon Izaguirre (Movistar) was 3rd. By finishing in the front group, Miguel Angel Lopez won the 2016 Tour de Suisse overall.

With real inclement weather lurking around, the extreme weather protocol had to take affect and the final stage of the Tour de Suisse was shortened to just 57km. Riders had a 25km slight downhill run to the foot of the Fluelapass which was then a tough 13km ascent before descending all the way to the finish line in Davos.

Being such a short stage, everyone knew it was going to be a flat out sprint to the climb and then every man for himself to the finish. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka would once again protect Natnael Berhane during the stage with Tyler Farrar and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg doing some excellent work to position our Eritrean Champion at the head of the peloton.

As soon as the climb started the race exploded, Janse van Rensburg was able to stick with Berhane for the first few kilometers before Berhane then had to follow the wheels of all the favourites. When Darwin Atapuma (BMC Racing) put in the first real attack from peloton, Berhane was straight onto the wheel and they formed a group of 5 riders at the head of the race. Astana, in their bid to protect the overall race lead, kept the pace high in the peloton and brought back Berhane and company quite quickly.

With the main group whittled down to only 30 riders at 22km to go, a flurry of new attacks forced Lopez to chase on his own. The yellow jersey got across to his attackers and then proceeded on up the climb alone. A group of 9 riders followed Lopez over the summit with Berhane in the next group on the road. As the rain fell during the descent, Lopez was caught by 4 riders from the original chase but it made little difference as by just finishing in the front group, the Astana rider won the race overall.

Berhane’s group came flying into Davos 1’17” behind the stage winner with our Eritrean star crossing the finish line 12th on the stage. Thanks to his solid final performance, Berhane moved up 2 places on the overall classification to finish the Tour de Suisse in 18th on GC.

Jens Zemke – Sport Director
It was nice to have a good end to the Tour de Suisse with Natnael doing a fantastic job to come 12th during a stage where they had the most horrible conditions you could imagine. It was 2 degrees, with a mixture of rain and snow and it was absolutely horrible. Natnael moved up from 20th to 18th so chapeau to him and the small team we had here for the final 3 days. With these 4 riders we made the best out of the situation, as what we could. If you look at Natnael’s top 20 result, Geraint Thomas was just ahead and Frank Schleck behind, he was in good company. We can be proud of the boys, fighting as an African Team in these tough conditions.

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