Stevie Williams wins in Switzerland
Welshman Stevie Williams kicked off the Tour de Suisse in style, scoring another victory for Team Bahrain Victorious at the end of the first stage of the race - his first win in a Worldtour race. On the same Sunday the Critérium du Dauphiné ended in France, with Damiano Caruso finishing the race in 4th in GC and Jack Haig right behind in 5th.
In cycling, the month of June traditionally is all about preparing for the Tour de France. With the Critérium du Dauphiné in the Southeast of France and the Tour de Suisse, two one-week stage races play a central role in these preparations. As for the race in Switzerland, Team Bahrain Victorious fielded a mix of experienced and young riders in support of GC captain Gino Mäder. He was to rely on the support of the likes of Yukiya Arashiro, Hermann Pernsteiner, Filip Maciejuk, Johan Price-Pejtersen, Edoardo Zambanini and Stevie William. The latter had been the best-placed rider in red, orange and black at the GP Gippingen, finishing in 14th two days before the start of the Tour de Suisse and thus indicating a good form.
The first stage was ridden on a hilly circuit close to Lake Zurich, with the Pfannenstiel and the Küsnachter Berg featuring in each of the four laps. At first, a breakaway took charge of things, but the last of the early attackers were brought back in the finale. Unfortunately, the final ascent proved to be just a bit too much for Gino Mäder who lost contact with the other GC riders and conceded about 50 seconds on the way to the finish. The only rider of Team Bahrain Victorious to keep himself at the sharp end of the race was Stevie Williams. The Welshman kept his cool in the finale, timed his sprint to perfection and opted for the perfect line to win his first Worldtour race, thus also becoming the first wearer of the leader’s jersey at this year’s Tour de Suisse.
One week earlier Team Bahrain Victorious has lined up to the Critérium du Dauphiné with Jack Haig and Damiano Caruso as its two co-captains for the GC, Phil Bauhaus as its sprinter and Dylan Teuns with freedoms to attack in hilly stages. The team’s selection was completed with such experienced riders as Heinrich Haussler, Kamil Gradek and Luis Leon Sanchez. Sadly, Phil Bauhaus was forced to abandon the race after the first day for health reasons. Thanks to a surprisingly strong effort in the individual time trial, Damiano Caruso had put himself in a promising position, but just like Jack Haig he could not keep up with the strongest rivals in the high mountains. Still, Caruso finished the stage race in 4th place in the overall standings with Jack Haig following suit in 5th and Team Bahrain Victorious in 2nd in the team classification.
85TH TOUR DE SUISSE, STAGE 1: KÜSNACHT - KÜSNACHT, 177.6KM
1. Stephen Williams, GBR/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 4:16.51 hours
2. Maximilian Schachmann, GER, st
3. Andreas Kron, DEN, st
74TH CRITÉRIUM DU DAUPHINÉ, TEAM CLASSIFICATION:
1. Team Jumbo-Visma, NED, in 87:38.30 hours
2. Team Bahrain Victorious, BHR, + 13.40
3. Ineos Grenadiers, GBR, + 22.56
Photos: Sprint Cycling Agency