Despite a challenging start, Skjelmose, a 22-year-old Danish rider, managed a comeback on the mid-section of the 25.7km route, recuperating critical seconds and securing a crucial win. Despite his victory on the day with a time of 32:25, Ayuso, just 20, ended up as runner-up overall, trailing Skjelmose by nine seconds.
Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) vaulted to the podium, completing the trial in 32:33, which placed him 45 seconds down. This shift in rankings knocked Felix Gall (AG2R Citroën) from second to eighth due to his slower time of 35:51.
“Belief in victory was always there,” said Skjelmose after the stage, expressing his readiness for the Tour despite his disadvantage. He commemorated Gino Mäder, stating, “it’s a combination of many sacrifices for me and the fact that Gino is no longer with us. The array of emotions had to come out at the finish line.”
Skjelmose emphasized the importance of Mäder’s family wanting the race to continue, which eased his mind. He expressed his elation at being able to honor Mäder’s memory with his victory.
Ayuso, on the other hand, had conflicting emotions, saying that while he was pleased with his stage win, his primary goal of winning the GC was not achieved. “It’s a bit of a pity, but Mattias was super strong, and we just have to congratulate him. I wanted to dedicate the GC to Gino, but also the stage win. The atmosphere is a bit subdued, not quite right for celebrations. But everyone gave their best for Gino, including Mattias, and I’m glad I could honour his memory with the win,” Ayuso added.
The final stage of the Tour de Suisse brought the conclusion of the GC battle with a grueling 25.7km time trial from St Gallen to Abtwil, featuring a tough 1.6km climb at 8.2%. This stage would determine the ultimate podium of this race, marked by the tragic loss of Gino Mäder.
Several cyclists held the leading time throughout the day, with Samuel Watson (Groupama-FDJ), Søren Kragh Andersen (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Connor Swift (Ineos Grenadiers), and Jeremy Cabot (TotalEnergies) all occupying the hot seat before Kasper Asgreen (Soudal-QuickStep) delivered an impressive 33:01. Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-EasyPost) then topped Asgreen with a 32:48.
As the main contenders, Evenepoel, Ayuso, Gall, and Skjelmose, took off for the GC battle, Evenepoel set the quickest time at the first checkpoint, but Ayuso and Skjelmose weren’t far behind. The hilly mid-section of the stage saw Ayuso gain momentum, setting a quicker time than Evenepoel. Skjelmose, however, was the surprise, making up rather than losing time on Ayuso.
As the race ended, Evenepoel bested Bissegger briefly before Ayuso claimed the stage win with an even better time. Skjelmose wrapped up his yellow jersey defence, trailing Ayuso by nine seconds, and was crowned the Tour de Suisse champion.
Tour de Suisse stage 8 results
1. Juan Ayuso (ESP, UAE Team Emirates) 32:25
2. Remco Evenepoel (BEL, Soudal Quick-Step) +08
3. Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (DEN, Trek-Segafredo) +09
4. Stefan Bissegger (SUI, EF Education-EasyPost) +23
5. Wout van Aert (BEL, Jumbo-Visma) +28
6. Kasper Asgreen (DEN, Soudal Quick-Step) +36
7. Mattia Cattaneo (ITA, Soudal Quick-Step) +39
8. Matteo Sobrero (ITA, Team Jayco-AlUla) +40
9. Finn Fisher-Black (NZL, UAE Team Emirates) +42
10. Neilson Powless (USA, EF Education-EasyPost) +46
General classification final results
1. Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (DEN, Trek-Segafredo) 21:17:19
2. Juan Ayuso (ESP, UAE Team Emirates) +09
3. Remco Evenepoel (BEL, Soudal Quick-Step) +45
4. Wilco Kelderman (NED, Jumbo-Visma) +2:09
5. Romain Bardet (FRA, Team DSM) +2:41
6. Rigoberto Uran (COL, EF Education-EasyPost) +2:47
7. Cian Uijtdebroeks (BEL, BORA-hansgrohe) +3:04
8. Felix Gall (AUT, AG2R Citroën Team) +3:25
9. Dylan Teuns (BEL, Israel-Premier Tech) +4:29
10. Harold Tejada (COL, Astana Qazaqstan Team) +4:57