Rohan Dennis failed to take the 22 seconds required to grab GC victory, allowing Egan Bernal to take his second stage race win of the season.
Hugh Carthy (EF Education First) won in emphatic style from a day-long solo breakaway on the final stage of the Tour de Suisse, Sunday. Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) finished third on the day and secured overall victory.
“It’s still sinking in,” said Carthy. “It’s a happy moment for me. We train hard, make sacrifices and lose sight of victory. We want to win every race and I’m just relieved to win and pay back the confidence of my team and teammates.”
Behind him, Bernal and Rohan Dennis (Bahrain-Merida), who were first and second respectively on the GC at the start of the day, came to the line together. Dennis seemed resigned to second place on the GC, and didn’t even attempt a move in the final kilometers to gain the 22 seconds he required to steal the overall lead.
“It is one of the biggest races that I have won so I’m really happy. It gives me a lot of confidence for the next races,” said Bernal.
“I don’t choose to say that I’m the favorite [for the Tour de France],” continued Bernal. “In any case, I will go with G [Geraint Thomas], he will be our leader. I will try to help him. I don’t have any problems to help him; I’m just 22 years old so I think that I have a lot of Tours in front of me.”
The 101.5km stage featured three huge climbs, the Nufenen, San Gottardo, and Furka, all of which were over 2,100m high – with the Nufenen being the highest in Switzerland, topping out at just under 2,500m.
Carthy broke away early on in the stage, and found himself going over the Nufenen alone with three minutes’ advantage over the peloton. Between him and the bunch were a chase group of Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), Lennard Kämna (Sunweb), Marc Soler (Movistar), Mathias Fränk (AG2R La Mondiale), and Simon Špilak (Katusha-Alpecin).
With the race pointing uphill from almost kilometer zero, Ineos set the pace from early on, protecting Bernal’s GC lead. In custom style, their tempo on the Nufenen soon split the peloton down to around 40 riders.
Carthy managed to slowly increase his gap over the iconic cobbled climb of San Gottardo, moving 1:20 clear of the chasers. Aru, perhaps still not back to form after time out for surgery on his iliac artery in April, was dropped from the group chasing the Brit.
Jan Hirt (Astana) and Enric Mas (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) broke from the peloton on the final climb of the day, while ahead of them, the chase group splintered. Carthy continued to hold his advantage and secured the mountains jersey as he passed over the summit of the final climb of the race with over three minutes on the highly-reduced peloton.
Meanwhile, the GC group had splintered, with Bernal, Dennis, Konrad, Soler, Domenico Pozzovivo, (Bahrain-Merida), Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal), Carlos Betancur (Movistar), and Hirt the only riders remaining.
Dennis half-heartedly tried to dislodge Bernal toward the summit of the Furka, but the effort was easily shut down.
With just a descent and a flat 10km run to the line, time was running out for Dennis. The pair went clear of the remaining GC riders over the summit of the Furka and stalked each other down the sketchy wet hairpins of the mountain.
Carthy went into the final 10km run to the line with a two-minute gap and time trialed his way to victory, and eventually took the win by over one minute.
Bernal and Dennis continued to stalk each other through the final part of the stage. Having tried a move on the Furka, Dennis seemed to know he had met his match and didn’t even attempt an attack to steal GC victory in the final kilometers. They came to the line together, with Dennis taking second and Bernal third. With that, Bernal secured overall victory – his second stage race win of the year after winning Paris-Nice in March.
Behind them, two small groups of GC men finished in close succession, with third-place Kondrad among them, securing his podium spot.