Tour de Suisse stage 4 featured the first of three summit finishes in this year’s race and saw a showdown of the General Classification contenders with Damiano Caruso becoming the third BMC Racing Team rider to take the yellow jersey in Switzerland.
After the race had rolled through the heart of Bern, the flag was dropped and immediately riders began to set a fast pace at the front with a number of breakaway attempts quickly pulled back.
Eventually, after 14km, of the 150.2km course, four riders were able to break free from the peloton and began to build up an advantage which had reached almost eight minutes just 20km later.
With the road beginning to rise towards the Col des Mosses, the gap started to fall but, as the race headed over the summit of the category one climb with 30km to go, the three remaining leaders were still five minutes ahead of the peloton.
However, as the main bunch reached the final hors categorie climb to Villars-sur-Ollon, they were dramatically cutting into the advantage of the breakaway which quickly split up on the steeper slopes with Larry Warbasse (AquaBlue Sport) left riding solo at the front.
The first attack from the peloton came with less than 7km to go but BMC Racing Team reacted quickly with Tejay van Garderen closing the gap before moving to the front with Caruso tucked into his wheel.
A burst of acceleration from Caruso saw a group of six riders go clear before they began to attack one another inside 3km to go.
Up ahead, Warbasse was going under the flamme rouge with an advantage of just under one minute which would ultimately prove to be enough to take the stage win.
As the AquaBlue Sport rider crossed the line, the racing continued behind with Caruso looking powerful as he sprinted towards the finish line to take second on the stage, ahead of Steven Kruijswijk (Team LottoNL-Jumbo), and move into the overall race lead.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“It feels really nice to have the yellow jersey. It was so hot today and after a really hard day of racing like that, it feels incredible to wear this jersey. My BMC Racing Team teammates were really amazing. They were around me all day and protected me. Tejay van Garderen was especially strong on the last climb and other guys were able to put me in the right position at the key moments.”
“On the last climb, I tried to follow the best riders and in the end, I surprised myself because I was able to take second place and the bonus seconds. I am really happy about this and I will enjoy this jersey and see what happens over the next few days.”
“Tomorrow is a long stage and the goal will be to keep safe and keep the jersey. After that we will see what happens.”
Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
“It was a great stage. We didn’t have to do too much work as we didn’t have the responsibility of the leader’s jersey. We let some of the other teams do the early work, and we brought Damiano Caruso safely into the climb. The guys did an amazing job as usual and Tejay van Garderen finished it off to keep it together for him. It was great to see Damiano take the jersey and show that he is one of the strongest guys here.”
“We are a really good team, and today you could see that we are one of the strongest teams here. It is always nice to see everyone working together, and it is always nice to have the Swiss guys here. They have an extra level of motivation, but they also know the roads and this extra level of knowledge is good to have.”
“It is really good team atmosphere and having the jersey every other day gives us a great morale as we look ahead to the rest of the week.”