Third podium for Gaviria at the Tour de Suisse
Enric Mas will go into the final day with the best young rider jersey on his shoulders.
Quick-Step Floors were one of the teams to move to the head of proceedings in stage 8 of the Tour de Suisse as soon as a four-man group jumped clear from the field, opening a maximum gap of three minutes. The course around Bellinzona – the charming town that lies east of the Ticino river and is famous for its three castles on the UNESCO World Heritage list – was hilly, with 1000 vertical meters crammed between the start and finish, but the peloton's fast men weren't willing to leave this opportunity slip through their fingers.
Tim Declercq did again a magnificent job, relentlessly pulling behind the escapees and slowly cutting the advantage of the quartet up front, who despite some late accelerations, were caught inside the last six kilometers of the stage, giving the cue to the sprinters' trains to form.
Brilliantly launched by Maximiliano Richeze, who expertly put him into position on the final run-in, Fernando Gaviria kicked out with 200 meters to go, but Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) popped past him with 40 meters left and took the win. For the 23-year-old Colombian, this was the tenth top-3 since the beginning of the season, six of these results coming in the World Tour, at the Tour of California and the Tour de Suisse.
"It's not funny to finish second again, but it is as it is. I want to thank my teammates for the work they did: Tim pulled all day, while Max piloted me into a great position with 200 meters to go, but Demare was just stronger today. On the bright side, I feel good and I look forward to our altitude camp in Livigno, where the plan is to put the finishing touch to our Tour de France preparation", Fernando said after Saturday's stage.
With one stage left in the program, a demanding 34km-long individual time trial in Bellinzona, teammate Enric Mas continues to top the best young rider classification, where he has a 20-second buffer over his closest rival.
Photo credit: ©Heinz Zwicky/ Getty Images