Rider of the week
Simon Spilak’s Tour de Suisse campaign began on the wrong foot, as the 28-year-old Slovenian went off-course in the prologue and ended up losing 19 seconds. Fortunately for him, things were on track just a couple of days later, once the peloton hit the Rettenbachgletscher, the sole mountain top finish. There, on one of the toughest climbs the riders have had in the menu this season, Spilak attacked and although he was eventually reeled in, still hang on for a third place which brought the always so important bonifications.
In the final day of the event – a 38,4-km long individual time trial around Bern – Katusha’s rider gave his all and produced a more than impressing performance, rolling in home second, ahead of Swiss ITT champion Fabian Cancellara, but more important, concluding the race against the clock with an 18-second buffer on Geraint Thomas, his main rival for the yellow jersey. In the end, Spilak – often described as a nice enough character, but not a man of many words, focused soley on cycling – finished five seconds ahead of the Welshman in the overall classification and earned his biggest triumph to date.
A one-week race specialist, Spilak could now find himself in a significant point of his career, as he’s still young and has room for improvement, which can help him finally become a big favorite every time he enters in such races as Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie or the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. For the moment, he’ll savour his victory, one few would have guessed a week ago. By taking the GC last Sunday, in the 79th running of the race, he became the first ever Slovenian cyclist to get the victory in the Tour de Suisse, and with it, a success that has eluded him since he claimed the 2010 Tour de Romandie (after the disqualification of Alejandro Valverde).