Peter Sagan (Bora – hansgrohe) took a remarkable fourteenth stage win at the Tour de Suisse today. The victory extended his own record for the number of stage wins and also means he has taken a stage at each of the last eight editions of the race. The UCI World Champion also took over the race’s black points jersey.
After the first mountain stage of the Tour de Suisse, it was back to a hilly stage for today’s 222km route. However, only a race like the Tour de Suisse could include an Hors Catégorie climb on a stage classed as ‘hilly’.
The Simplonpass dominated the stage profile, with 100km of the stage clocked up before the race even started to climb, and while teams would have a fast and furious descent to make up time before a relatively flat run to the finish, there would be no guarantee that the sprinters would be in a position – or a condition – to contest the flat finale.
As the Tour de Suisse’s longest stage, for a breakaway to last the entire distance, the group would have to be made up of the right sorts of riders. While attack after attack came, the breaks were reeled back as quickly as they were able to form.
With 70km raced, a group finally made their escape, with six riders – Arman Kamyshev (Astana), Ben King (Dimension Data), Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Sam Bewley (Orica-Scott), Lars Petter Nordhaug (Aqua Blue Sport) and Jesper Asselman (Roompot) – making their way up the road and rapidly building up a two minute advantage, before topping out at six minutes. This was before the major climb of the day, however, and while the break managed to hold the peloton at bay, the leaders were four minutes slower to the summit of the Simplonpass, with the peloton having reduced the gap by more than two minutes.
With 6km remaining, it was all back together. The peloton was stretched out in the final few kilometres as riders struggled to hold on, with none of the sprinters able to keep their trains with them, such was the pace.
With 250m to go, Sagan accelerated to leave the bunch in his wake, giving him enough time to check over his shoulder, before taking his first win of the 2017 Tour de Suisse and his 14th in the race, extending his record of stage wins. Michael Albasini (Orica-Scott) finished second with Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors) taking third.
Moments after the finish, Sagan was doubling back to thank his BORA-hansgrohe teammates for their hard efforts today. He explained how important their role was from the finish. “I’m very happy for this victory because the BORA-hansgrohe riders really sacrificed themselves today. We went all in at the end of the stage and my teammates got me to the finish. I’m so happy with this win – it was very good for the team and I couldn’t have done it without them. It took a little while to get this win – the first road stage was a little mad, with attacks and a really hectic finish, then two days ago it was a good finish but I’d put in a big effort before to get up the final climb. Today was really good for me though. There was a bit of rain but I felt much better in the end and managed to keep my head in the finale.”
Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) finished safely in the bunch to maintain his overall lead.