Juan Ayuso won the brutal fifth stage of the Tour de Suisse on Thursday as Mattias Skjelmose took the overall lead.
Ayuso surged clear 13km from the line on the final part of the climb up Albulapass on a mountainous 211km stage. The UAE rider increased his advantage as he hit speeds of more than 90kph on a long, hair-raising, descent to the finish at La Punt.
The 20-year-old, who last year became the youngest ever top-three finisher in the Vuelta, missed the start of the season with a problem in a tendon in his lower leg.
As he crossed the line, he lifted his right foot off the pedal and slapped his calf. The day before, Ayuso had not been able to keep up with stage winner Felix Gall on the final climb. On Thursday he overpowered his rivals.
“The body is the body,” said Ayuso at the finish. “Yesterday I had no legs and just had to suffer, then today at the end I felt much better. It was a very hard stage, a lot of climbing, a lot of altitude, so it was very tough.”
Skjelmose sprinted to grab second, 54 seconds later, collecting a six-second bonus. The Dane took the overall lead from Felix Gall who faded in the home straight and was a further four seconds back in eighth.
Remco Evenepoel, who started the day in second, faltered on the last climb and was unable to catch his main rivals on the descent, finishing 1min 20sec behind Ayuso.
Skjelmose leads Gall by eight seconds with Ayuso up to third, 18sec off the lead, and Evenepoel at 46sec.
The race continues on Friday with a hilly 215.3km ride to Oberwil-Lieli.
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— Eurosport (@eurosport) June 15, 2023