Remco Evenepoel on Trailing at Tour de Suisse: “Now it’s onto tomorrow, it’s another chance.“

By Monica Buck

In an unexpected turn of events, Mattias Skjelmose of Trek-Segafredo climbed to victory at the Tour de Suisse, leaving world champion Remco Evenepoel trailing in his wake during stage three’s final ascent to Villars-sur-Ollon. The 22-year-old Skjelmose now leads the General Classification by 17 seconds ahead of Evenepoel, marking the Dane’s third victory this season, and his first at WorldTour level.

Following closely behind the leading duo, Juan Ayuso of UAE Team Emirates sits third in the GC standings, trailing by 24 seconds.

Skjelmose stuck close to Evenepoel’s wheel when the world champion launched an attack. When there were only 2.5km to go, the Dane made his decisive move, following AG2R Citröen’s Felix Gall, who he beat in a nail-biting two-up dash to the finish line.

Reflecting on his performance, Skjelmose shared, “I had a really big question mark about my climbing abilities. Ok, this is not the hardest mountain stage, but it’s still a really long climb, and I did really good.” As the finish line approached, the Dane kept his cool, holding off Gall for his first WorldTour victory.

In response to his spectacular win and the prospects of holding the GC lead until the race’s conclusion, he noted, “We hope so. We’re going to try our best. There are a lot of strong teams and it will be difficult but we will try our best.”

Meanwhile, the day unfolded differently for Evenepoel. Initially, the Belgian’s blistering attack with 6km left of the 11km climb made him look set to claim the yellow leader’s jersey. However, an unexpected struggle towards the summit saw him drop behind.

“Nothing is lost yet, so no drama,” said Evenepoel in response to the setback. “I haven’t lost the general classification here. Now it’s onto tomorrow, it’s another chance.” His acknowledgment of the situation and readiness to keep fighting serve as an emblem of his tenacity and relentless spirit.

A month after abandoning the Giro d’Italia due to Covid-19, Evenepoel revealed he felt short of his best form during this race, which impacted his performance on the climb. “Normally I should be able to add another acceleration in that stretch, but that wasn’t on the cards today,” he explained.

Despite his performance, the world champion remains optimistic about the race for overall victory. “Maybe I went a little too early, but my teammates were empty, so I had to go when I did,” Evenepoel noted. He hinted at adopting a more cautious strategy in the days ahead, given the challenges to come.

As the Tour de Suisse rolls forward, the race’s conclusion hangs in the balance with the final time trial in Abtwil on Sunday. The world will be watching to see if Skjelmose can maintain his lead and if Evenepoel can make a comeback, potentially reshaping the narrative of the Tour de Suisse.

Stage 3 Results

Rank Country Rider Team Time
01 DEN SKJELMOSE JENSEN Mattias Trek-Segafredo 03:29:14
02 AUT GALL Felix AG2R Citroën Team + 03
03 ESP AYUSO Juan UAE Team Emirates + 12
04 BEL EVENEPOEL Remco Soudal Quick-Step + 21
05 BEL UIJTDEBROEKS Cian BORA-hansgrohe + 21

GC Results after stage 3

Rank Country Rider Team Time
01 DEN SKJELMOSE JENSEN Mattias Trek-Segafredo 07:36:31
02 BEL EVENEPOEL Remco Soudal Quick-Step + 17
03 ESP AYUSO Juan UAE Team Emirates + 24
04 USA SHEFFIELD Magnus INEOS Grenadiers + 39
05 ESP BILBAO Pello Bahrain Victorious + 49
06 COL URAN Rigoberto EF Education-EasyPost + 56
07 NED KELDERMAN Wilco Jumbo-Visma + 01:04
08 ESP IZAGIRRE Ion Cofidis + 01:05
09 AUT GALL Felix AG2R Citroën Team + 01:07
10 FRA BARDET Romain Team DSM + 01:15