The most successful Tour de Suisse in BMC Racing Team’s history came to an end with Richie Porte sealing the overall victory in his debut at the race, and Swiss time trial champion Stefan Küng smashing the individual time trial to take the stage win.
In an historic race for the team, BMC Racing Team started with the win in the team time trial last Saturday, finished things off with the individual time trial win today, and in an incredible display of teamwork, led the race from start to finish, first with Küng in yellow for four days and then Porte.
After eight stages, the General Classification battle came down to the 34.1km race against the clock with Porte starting the day with a 17-second lead over Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) and 52 seconds in front of Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb).
Küng started the day as one of the stage favorites and made his intentions clear by setting the second-fastest time at the 19.7km intermediate time check, one second behind teammate Tejay van Garderen, before coming home to smash the previous best time by 19 seconds to stop the clock with 39’44”.
Küng had time in the hot seat to cool down and with it becoming unlikely that anyone would better his time, the Swiss champion was able to sit back and watch the General Classification battle unfold out on the road.
Despite the flat terrain, Porte quickly settled into a good rhythm and by the second intermediate check point the Australian had already put 38 seconds into Quintana and 14 seconds into Kelderman.
Like Küng, Porte came home strong and crossed the line in Bellizona with 40’48” on the clock, finishing in 14th place on the day, which was more than enough to secure his maiden Tour de Suisse overall victory.
The time trial reshuffled the podium with Porte eventually finishing 1’02” over Jacob Fulgsang (Astana Pro Team) and 1’12” in front of Quintana.
Van Garderen’s performance showed the depth of BMC Racing Team in the time trial discipline, with third place on the day, 23 seconds behind Küng.
The Winner’s Interview with Richie Porte
Richie, congratulations! Is this the biggest win of your career?
“I’d say so. I’ve won at races like Paris-Nice, Volta Catalunya and Tour de Romandie but this race is so special and to come here after the passing of Andy Rihs earlier in the season and win his home Tour is a massive satisfaction. I dedicate this win to Andy.”
What does your performance here mean for you?
“This was a big goal. Let’s not beat around the bush. It’s a very important race and I think it’s disrespectful to say it’s a ‘lead in’ race for the Tour de France as it means a lot to win it. It’s such a prestigious race. So, I think going forward into the Tour de France, it’s a good sign to win here. It would have been nice to have won a stage here and maybe if the breakaway hadn’t stayed away on Thursday’s stage, I would have won one but, at the end of the day, to win the General Classification was the big goal and I’m still happy with the victory. I’m ready for the Tour de France. I did a good race here. I’m not at the top of my form just yet so I am excited for July.”
What was the week like for the team defending the race lead from start to finish?
“It hasn’t been an easy week but the guys did a fantastic job. We really had our work cut out for us and we didn’t get a lot of help from the other teams. I was a little bit worried coming into today about guys like Kelderman but I’m happy with the time we put into them at the start of the race. I think it was a fantastic week.”
And what’s next after this race?
“Before this race, I hadn’t raced since Tour de Romandie. I was at home for the birth of my son two weeks ago and I’ve only had one night at home with him so, I think it’s great for me to get to go home for a bit of time before a training camp and then hopefully I’ll be better at the Tour de France.”
The Winner’s Interview with Stefan Küng
Stefan, congratulations! Talk us through the time trial course and how you are feeling after it?
“It wasn’t an easy course. It had some quite technical bits and a bit of up and down so, you had to pace it really well. I was saving a little bit for the end because I knew that you could make up or lose a lot of time there. I’m pretty happy with how I paced it. Obviously, it was a hard one for everyone after a hard Tour de Suisse in hot conditions but I am happy with my ride and it’s nice to take the win at home.”
Can it get any better than being the Swiss National TT champion winning a time trial at the Tour de Suisse?
“No, I don’t think so. I’m really proud to wear this jersey here at home. The guys from ASSOS have done a good job designing it so, winning at home is special. It can’t get any better and I think this Tour de Suisse as a whole, couldn’t have been better for our team with the TTT win at the beginning and spending the whole week in yellow with Richie pulling off the overall win. It makes us really proud. It’s a pity that Andy isn’t with us to experience this moment but he was here in our hearts throughout the whole week and maybe that is what made the difference.”