(Montreal) Quebecer Nickolas Zukowsky (Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team) had to return his red jersey as best climber to Lilian Calmejane (TotalEnergies, 22 points) at the end of the fourth stage of the Tour de Suisse on Wednesday. Zukowsky is now third in the standings, 5 points behind the Frenchman.

It was in solo that the Austrian Felix Gall (AG2R – Citroën) won his first professional victory. Thanks to his 10 bonus seconds, he dispossessed the Dane Mattias Skjelmose of the yellow jersey, now second at 2 seconds after this day of 153 kilometers between Monthey and Loèche-les-Bains.

Hugo Houle (Israel – Premier Tech), 12 min 6 s) finished in 39th place and Zukowsky in 72nd (17 min 12 s). In the general classification the two are respectively 29th (15 min 8 s) and 64th (27 min 30 s).

Unlike the stages on Monday and Tuesday, Zukowsky was not part of the breakaway. One who was in the group was Houle’s teammate, Daryl Impey. The fugitives were all eventually recaptured when the eventual winner began his solo raid just under 20 kilometers from the finish line. A number that amazed Houle.

“The AG2R – Citroën rider was very solid and he attacked from the foot of the climb and went off on his own. It’s quite impressive. »

Just before, Houle had set the table for his Belgian teammate Dylan Teuns, who remains 14th in the cumulative ranking.

“I was able to help him a bit into position for the last climb and then he climbed at his own pace and I took mine more relaxed behind. With the heat, it was very difficult and all day the team tried to help him as much as possible. […] At the preparatory camp (in view of the Tour de France), we did not have a lot of heat, so these are our first of the year. We are adapting slowly. »

The 32-year-old rider added that the form is there and that he is waiting for the right opportunity to take a breakaway.

Nickolas Zukowsky worked hard to get his exit voucher as he explained in an interview with Sportcom.

“It was quite a battle to get the right breakaway and it took 50 kilometers for it to form. It was really difficult! And with the tailwind, we did the first hour of racing at an average of 55 km/h. I tried my luck following a few shots that I thought were good. »

Once the breakaway was formed, the athlete from Sainte-Lucie-des-Laurentides tried to join the group halfway through the first pass. He closed the gap from two to one minute, except he couldn’t go all the way. Despite this, we feel that he takes pleasure in playing a leading role instead of being an extra.

“I didn’t want to just sit and wait, but try hard to see if I was able to surrender. The classification (of the mountain) is not yet decided and there are big days coming up. I have no illusions: I’m not a pure climber, but I’m gaining more confidence in my abilities. Not long ago I couldn’t have done what I did today (Wednesday) where I was really active in the first hour. […] I will try my luck in the next few days and I will fight 110%. »

The queen stage of the 2023 edition of the Tour de Suisse will be contested on Thursday with a tough menu between Fiesch and La Punt: 211 kilometers, 4,700 meters of elevation gain and three passes, two of which are out of category.