Skjelmose Wins Stage 3 of Tour de Suisse
Tuesday’s stage 3 of Tour de Suisse 2023 invited the professional cycling peloton to a 143.8-kilometer challenge in mountainous terrain on a route from Tafers to Villars-sur-Ollon in beautiful Switzerland. The race organizer had designed the route, so it featured the Category 1 Col de Mosses and concluded on the Category 1 Villars-sur-Ollon.
It would be interesting to see if World Champion Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) or any General Classification hopefuls for the upcoming Tour de France would test their legs in today’s stage while aiming for a noteworthy stage win.
It did not take long after the start before riders launched several attacks in attempts to form an ambitious breakaway group. A group of four riders managed to establish a viable lead. The group featured Lilian Calmejane (Intermarche-Circus-Wanty), Nickolas Zukowsky (Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team), Paul Ourselin (TotalEnergies), and Tudor Pro Cycling Team’s Danish National Champion Alexander Kamp.
With 55 kilometers left of stage 3, the front group had an advantage of 02:45 minutes over the main peloton and riders were starting to put on rain jackets in preparation for the rain to come later in the stage.
48 kilometers from the finish line multiple teams were working hard at the front of the main peloton to reduce the advantage of the breakaway group. The teams who had riders active at the front of the main peloton included Soudal-QuickStep, Jayco-Alula, Jumbo-Visma.
The riders had entered the Route des Mosses while approaching the Category 1 Col des Mosses (13.5 kilometers; 4.1 percent average gradient). It was now raining.
The breakaway quartet had an advantage of 24 seconds when they reached the top of the Col des Mosses and Calmejane won the sprint for the mountain classification points. The quartet was caught by the chasers with 29 kilometers left.
The peloton was still united with ten kilometers left and the rainy weather conditions had turned the stage into an even harder challenge than expected by the favorites. The riders were now climbing the Category 1 Villars-sur-Ollon and Jumbo-Visma’s Wout van Aert was leading, before Soudal-QuickStep’s James Knox took to the front for team captain Evenepoel.
Evenpoel attacked 6.4 kilometers from the finish line. He was joined by Trek-Segafredo’s Mattias Skjelmose and AG2R-Citroen’s Felix Gall. Behind them Harold Tejada (Astana) and Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bora-Hansgrohe) tried to bridge the gap, but with no success.
The front trio was still intact with three kilometers left and Evenepoel was doing the hard work at the front. Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious) and Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) had initiated a chase – they were joined by Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-EasyPost), Wilco Kelderman (Jumbo-Visma), Uijtdebroeks, and Tejada.
At the front, Gall attacked solo. Skjelmose tried to follow, while Evenepoel was behind.
Gall pressed on at the front and Skjelmose was closing in on him. He caught him and took to the front.
Evenepoel joined the chasers that now featured Bilbao, Uijtdebroeks, Uran, Kelderman, and Ayuso. Evenepoel was then dropped, while Ayuso attacked.
Skjelmose attacked shortly before the finish line and crossed the line in solo fashion. Gall followed, while Ayuso completed the stage podium.
Skjelmose is the new leader of Tour de Suisse following stage 3.
Wednesday’s Stage 4 of Tour de Suisse 2023 will be a 152.5-kilometer mountainous challenge from Monthey to Leukerbad. The route includes the Category 1 Crans-Montana climb (14.6 kilometers; 6.7 percent average gradient), the Category 3 Varenstrasse, and the Category 1 Höhenweg.
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