The classic dress rehearsal for Tour de France hopefuls delivered some breathless moments of excitement. Unexpected breakaway victories as the sprinter teams miscalculated the catch. Descents so fast and technical they made your eyes water just watching. But nothing compares to the 115km of sheer chaos attacking on the final stage that saw Jakob Fuglsang overturn Richie Porte’s lead to claim his first WorldTour title, and a first Dauphine for Denmark.
It’s the Tour de Suisse and, as usual, we’ve enjoyed beautiful scenery, a variety of stage winners and leader’s jersey wearers, riders scrapping to secure their Tour de France slots, yet more Peter Sagan stage wins and, more importantly, a hard-fought nip-and-tuck battle for the overall win (for the second time) by Simon Spilak. After steadily gaining ground in the days leading up to Friday’s queen stage, he struck out solo with 8km remaining to take both stage victory and the leader’s jersey with nearly a minute’s advantage, which he held over the next two stages. Damiano Caruso, who wore the leader’s jersey for two days, and Steven Kruijswijk rounded out the final podium.
Nail-biting tension was maintained until the end of the final stage individual time trial in this year’s Vuelta al Pais Vasco. Race leader Alejandro Valverde crossed the line after a typically ballsy effort to finish second on the stage to Primoz Roglic and, more importantly, increased his cushion over runner-up Alberto Contador to take his first Pais Vasco title. Local rider Ion Izagirre (and his bonny baby) rounded out the podium to the delight of Basque fans.