After Tuesday’s mountain finish atop Villars-sur-Ollon, the peloton went climbing once again on Wednesday afternoon with a finish in Leukerbad. A parcours that lived up to the “race of two halves”, the opening 80 kilometres were almost completely flat with all of the climbing packed into the latter 80 kilometres of the day.
It was a fierce and fast start to proceedings with multiple attacks in the peloton, with the team particularly active. Eventually the elastic snapped and Kevin Vermaerke made it into the break of ten, but with one of his fellow breakaway companions only three minutes behind on the GC, they were kept close throughout the afternoon. Vermaerke rode strongly and as the break split up on one of the climbs with around 25 kilometres to go, making the now front group of four. A high tempo was set in the bunch and things split up in the GC group, with eventual stage winner Gall making his move.
After being well positioned by the rest of the team, Romain Bardet launched a stinging attack and went clear of the group, bridging up to his teammate ahead. Vermaerke put in a strong shift, emptying the tank, as he pulled the group which now included Bardet and several of the other GC contenders. Once Vermaerke had given his all, Bardet attacked again, and again, and again. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to break the shackles of the group completely who came back to him in the final 400 metres, with Bardet eventually taking seventh place after a fighting effort by him and the rest of the team.