UCI World Champion Peter Sagan took the win on the second stage of the Tour de Suisse yesterday and in doing so, has taken the record for the most stage wins at the race.
On the Tour de Suisse’s second day, the race remained in Baar for a testing 46.9km circuit ridden four times. The 187.6km route essentially repeated a single cluster of climbs to create a tough, undulating course. This was likely to be more of a day for the all-rounders – the riders who could get over the climbs and still push hard at the finish to take the win.
After racing the opening time trial in wet conditions, the weather forecast at the start of the stage was predicted to be better. This wasn’t the case however, where it was raining on the riders at the start.
While the rain was to hold off for the second half of the race, riders were confronted with wet roads and standing water as the race went on.
This didn’t do anything to dampen the spirits of the peloton however, and it was racing from the drop of the flag. 15km into the day, a group of four went on the attack, and in 12km their advantage had stretched to an intimidating five minutes. While the gap wasn’t to extend more than this, it was enough to ensure the escapees had a comfortable advantage as they covered the day’s climbs.
As the day went on, the breakaway’s lead dropped steadily. While their initial advantage had served them well, it couldn’t stop the relentless surge of the peloton. With the race leader’s team pushing the pace, Tinkoff, led by Peter Sagan, were able to expend less effort pulling the break in, and with it all back together with 35km to go, it was likely to come down to the expected bunch sprint.
While there were a number of last minute attacks, the peloton wasn’t going to allow another break go so close to the finish, and with 10km to go, the Tinkoff riders made their first big effort at the front of the race, controlling the pace and working to ensure Sagan was kept safe in the frenetic lead in to the finish.
As the finish line approached, Sagan chose his moment perfectly, tucked in a few riders back, he swung off the wheel of the man in front and charged towards the line.
There was never any doubt as to who was going to take the stage as the UCI World Champion outclassed the other sprinters, crossing the line with his arms outstretched to celebrate the win.
From the finish, Sagan was understandably pleased with the outcome, but gave some insight into the amount of effort it took to get to the line first. “It was dangerous because we had some crashes throughout the day. In the last 20km it was important for us to be at the front, then there was another breakaway for the last intermediate sprint, but everyone knew we’d be going for the final sprint. Everyone wanted to be at the front. I took a good wheel and my teammates got me in a good position, and I did my sprint.”
The UCI World Champion’s win today makes him the record holder for the most stage wins at the race. “As the only rider to have twelve victories, it’s nice! It wasn’t my objective when I first started racing here to set out to do that, but year by year I’ve taken victories, so it’s a good feeling.”