UCI World Champion Peter Sagan took the stage win and the race leader’s jersey at the Tour de Suisse yesterday after he launched a late attack to bridge to the remaining riders from an earlier break, taking the sprint in another masterful finish in Rheinfelden.
After spending two days in Baar for the opening time trial and the first road stage, the Tour de Suisse made its way north over the 192.6km third stage to Rheinfelden. After two days of rain, the peloton spent a third day in the wet, with showers making the roads wet and soaking the riders.
While the day’s categorised climbs were to be found in the latter half of the stage, with the third category Sonnenberg and Schöneberg ridden twice in the finishing circuit after two challenging climbs at the 105km and 122km mark, the preceding 100km was by no means flat.
The opening section saw an up and down route before a slight downhill before the first categorised climb, the second category Hauenstein, with its 690m summit.
The day’s break was made up of eight riders and they gained an advantage of three minutes. However, the break started to disintegrate as the peloton closed in on them.
At the finish, Sagan expressed his disappointment with the peloton’s reluctance to join Tinkoff in the chase. “It was tough when we were working so hard. Cycling has changed – it doesn’t respect the group as much. We were out on front, working with Lotto, but all the riders weren’t working. I was asking where the respect was. We were going to kill ourselves riding so hard with 50km to go. I thought it would be easier for everyone if we worked, but I’m angry that my team was working hard on the front, but no-one seemed to respect that.”
Having taken the stage win in commanding fashion on stage 2, the flat finish meant Sagan, had another chance to push for a stage win. With his teammates upping the pace and helping the peloton to reduce the gap, the UCI World Champion’s team soon had the break in their sights with just two riders remaining ahead.
On the final climb of the day and with 11.5km to go, Sagan attacked, powering over the climb, making his endeavour look effortless, to go it alone ahead of the chasing peloton and join the remaining two breakaway riders – Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) and Silvan Dillier (BMC Racing Team) on the front.
The trio worked well together and were able to fend off the chasing peloton. Sagan easily took the sprint at the end which increased his record to 13 stage wins at the Tour de Suisse and this propelled him into the race leader’s jersey
“The race was very hard. I caught the escape on the descent, on the flat, and it was pretty hard to keep up,” Sagan said. “When its raining it’s much easier to be alone out the front – to make the break stick – and the decisions I made were based on me feeling good On the front the guys did some work with me and it was ok in the lead up to the finish.”
“It was a good sprint – at 300m out I stayed on his wheel and then passed him on the line. The riders in the breakaway wanted to work with me today – it’s not always easy to get them to work with me but we all wanted the win. It was just lucky I still had the legs to go for the sprint in the last hundred metres.”