Aqua Blue Sport, Ireland’s first Professional Continental cycling team, took its first World Tour victory with a heroic lone attack by Larry Warbasse into the high mountains on stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse.
The day began in Bern and travelled across a mostly flat first half of the race in the direction of the high mountain Villars-sur-Ollon. The stage saw an early break after just 15 kilometres of racing, with Larry Warbasse, Antoine Duchesne, Nick Van der Lijk and Lars Boom going off the front of the peloton.
The break grew to nine minutes during the next 30 kilometres, with the lead being maintained at between seven and eight minutes as they hit the foot of the day’s first major climb. The time gap between the breakaway riders and the peloton was soon down to seven minutes as riders headed for Col des Mosses, and was reduced a further minute as they began the climb.
As the final climb of 11.1 kilometres loomed Warbasse set a strong pace, and burst away from his breakaway companions. He cut a lone, determined figure as he battled against gravity and the peloton, with only 8 kilometres to the finishing line.
The American maintained his pace out front and within the final kilometre the peloton cut the lead to less than one minute. Warbasse, however, realised the day was his, and finished in splendid isolation for his and his team’s maiden World Tour win.
An emotional Warbasse cried as he gave his reaction having crossed the finishing line:
“It’s my first victory in my career – it’s amazing I love this race, I love Switzerland. I was on IAM Cycling the last two years, and it’s one of the most beautiful countries and I have so many great memories here. Today I felt like it was my home race. I’ve never had so many people cheering for me, everyone was yelling my name. I’m really happy. As soon as I got in the breakaway, I knew – I told everyone yesterday, I worked really hard the whole last season – I always give 110 per cent, I’m just so happy it finally paid off.”
Team owner, Corkman Rick Delaney, was in the team car and witnessed firsthand Warbasse’s success.
“We started in January and the goal was to get race starts and then the objective was to perform as best we could in as many prestigious races as we could. “Firstly to be invited to the Tour de Suisse was a great honour and as the week started we took the mountains jersey with Lasse. We have been in almost every break in every race we have started but to get one to stick on a day like today on a climb like today. For Larry it is an amazing moment to take his first win. His focus and determination and phenomenal work ethic – he had clear emotion today and it was magnificent to be there to share it with him.”