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After an attack in the limit, Remco Evenepoel missed Felix Gal’s victory

After an attack in the limit, Remco Evenepoel missed Felix Gal’s victory

Felix Gall (AG2R Citroën) narrowly missed his first professional stage win in the 86th Tour de Suisse (2nd UWT). In torrential rain on the 143.8km third stage from Tavres to Villars-sur-Ollon, the 25-year-old Austrian was just three seconds behind Matthias Skgelmos (Trek-Segafredou) in the Tour’s first mountain finish there.

With his biggest success to date, the 22-year-old Dane took over the overall leader’s yellow jersey from Stefan Kung (Groupama – FDJ), who won the race. World champion Remco Evenpoel (Sodal – Quick-Step), who opened the final with his attack 6.5 kilometers from the finish line, was fourth, 21 seconds behind Spain’s Juan Ayuso (UAE Emirates Team / +0:12).

Evenpoel’s compatriot Sian Oetdebroeks (Bora-Hansgrohe) finished fifth behind him at the same time.

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Overall, Skjelmose is now 17 seconds ahead of Evenepoel and 24 seconds ahead of Ayuso. Gall moved into ninth (+1:07), and Uijtedebroeks is in eleventh.

Four-man escape group

Shortly after takeoff, a four-man breakaway formed, including Zukowsky, Lilian Calmejane (Intermarche – Circus – Wanty), Alexander Kamp (Tudor) and Paul Orselin (TotelEnergies). Their lead quickly grew to over three minutes, but it didn’t increase after that. Zukowsky had already shown himself to be an active breakaway the day before and was awarded the mountain jersey.

In the field, Soudal-Quick-Step organized the early tracking action and kept the escape group on a short chain. With the start of the Col des Mosses 50 kilometers from the finish, the breakaway group had a lead of just 1:20 minutes. At the same time, the expected rain began. However, the 13km climb was moderate with an average gradient of 4.1 percent, so that the leading group reached the summit before the field. Calmeghani secured the Category 1 mountainous classification ahead of Zukowski, who thus defended his mountain jersey. However, at the start of the descent of approximately 20 kilometers from the Col des Mosses, the escape party was caught.

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Attack from Evenepoel

Trek – Segafredo and DSM pushed the pace downhill, and the field split into several groups for a short while, but just before the valley everything came back together for the most part. However, the pace approaching the final climb to Villars-sur-Ollon remained high, with the DSM in particular doing a lot of the work. On the climb itself, Soudal-Quick-Step dominated again, while field weakness persisted – among others, Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hensgrohe) surprisingly lost contact early on.

However, 6.3km from the finish, Evenpoel’s last co-driver James Knox swerved, whereupon the reigning world champion attacked straight away – and was accompanied by Skjelmose and Gall. Behind them, a chasing group was formed with Belo Bilbao (Victorious Bahrain), Wilko Kelderman (Jumbo – Visma), Juan Ayuso (UAE Emirates Team), Rigoberto Uran (EF Education – Easy Boost), Harold Tejada (Astana) and Captain Bora Oijtdebroeks.

With 2.5km to go, Gall broke out of the leading group leaving Evenpoel and Skjelmos behind. Shortly thereafter, Trek Pro pulled away from the Belgian, who was caught by the chasing group. Skjelmose quickly closed the gap to Gall and, jumping 500 meters from the finish, took victory of the day ahead of the Austrian, although he fought to the finish line. In the late group, Ayuso broke away from third with 12 seconds to go, with Evenpoel bringing the rest of the runners home 21 seconds ahead of Oujtdebroeks.

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