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On the scene at the Tour de Suisse

This was my first time at the Tour de Suisse, and the race did not disappoint.

On stage two into Aesch, 23-year-old Andreas Leknessund got his first World Tour win, and looked like he couldn’t believe he’d won the stage.

Thirty-eight seconds later, Alberto Bettiol took the bunch sprint for second, and looked like he did believe he’d won the stage.

Often, when photographing bunch sprint finishes, I can’t tell through the camera lens who’s winning. That wasn’t a problem on stage three. Sagan was clearly out in front from quite a way back, and he was already sitting up with a smile on his face while Coquard and Kristoff were still in their bike throws.

On stage four, the three-man break was still in the lead on the first pass through the pretty town of Brunnen, but the stage eventually finished in a bunch sprint won by Daryl Impey.

Alexander Vlasov won stage five and took the leader’s jersey. Other than on the podium, though, he didn’t get a chance to wear that jersey, since he was one of the thirty riders who dropped out of the race before the next morning’s start.

I watched stage seven from a scenic spot about halfway up the 18-kilometer finishing climb to Moosalp. The break stayed away that day, so the first two riders who passed me, Fausto Masnada and Nico Denz, hung on to finish fifth and first on the stage.

Next came Clement Champoussin and Jose Herrada, second and third on the stage.

The GC favorites were still in a good-sized group at that point.

It was worth the long drive into Liechtenstein and then up the 13-k climb to Malbun to see one of my favorite riders, Thibaut Pinot, take the stage win. Pinot had plenty of time to celebrate his solo victory on his way to the line, but the strain of his efforts on such a hot day showed after he crossed the line.

A heavily bandaged Alexey Lutsenko was third on the stage.

Sergio Higuita rode into the leader’s jersey with his fourth-place finish on the stage, and Geraint Thomas was fifth.

The finish area was littered with exhausted riders seeking shade and hydration. Bling opted for a cold water dousing followed by a handful of gummy bears.

On his way to the podium, Pinot ran into his teammate Antoine Duchesne, who had just finished.

Normally, I enjoy photographing time trial stages, because the fun is spread out over several hours, but in the 100-degree heat (38 C) of Vaduz on Sunday, several hours out in the sun was the last thing I wanted. I stayed inside until the last minute, then watched the last few riders come in from a shady spot in the finish area. So, here’s a shot of Geraint Thomas cooling down after his GC-winning ride: