Tour de Suisse: Peter Sagan takes a wet stage three in breakaway sprint
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Monday, June 10, 2013

Tour de Suisse: Peter Sagan takes a wet stage three in breakaway sprint

by Ben Atkins at 12:59 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour de Suisse
Mathias Frank takes yellow jersey over the final climb and descent

peter saganPeter Sagan (Cannondale) sprinted to his 11th victory of the 2013 season as he was fastest of a four-man breakway royale in the third stage of the Tour de Suisse, between Montreux and Meiringen. The Slovakian champion was easily able to overcome the challenge from defending race champion Rui Costa (Movistar) as the Portuguese rider tried to challenge him on the finishing straight, while Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) - who had forced the break over the top of the final climb - was third.

Fourth place on the stage was taken by Mathias Frank (BMC Racing) at he rear of the breakaway group, but the Swiss rider took over the race lead as yellow jersey Cameron Meyer (Garmin-Sharp) was left behind.

“Honestly I’m surprised to be able to take this win,” said Sagan afterwards. “In the morning meeting with [our directeur sportif] we thought that this finale was too hard to try a move. The stage looked good when I stayed with the leaders on the final climb. On the descent, the group got smaller and with the other three riders I pushed to go to the finish. The final sprint wasn’t so easy. I knew I was the faster rider of the group but my legs felt tired due to the last climb. I preferred a two-up sprint with Rui Costa to not run any risks.

“I’m really happy for this win and to have found the first positive sign of my form,” Sagan added. “Every day is a useful test to prepare for the Tour de France. There is only one target: be at the top to fight for the green jersey. If I find other chances at the Tour de Suisse I’ll be ready, but for me it’s important to see my form improving.”

The 203km stage featured a breakaway of 18 riders, which escaped on the first climb of the day after almost 60km, but the group had been reduced to nine as it arrived at the foot of the final climb with just over 30km remaining.

The break now consisted of Hayden Roulston (RadioShack), Tom Boonen and Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma QuickStep), Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp), Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Wilco Kelderman (Blanco), Matti Breschel (Saxo Tinkoff), Michael Albasini (ORICA) and Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling). Belgian champion Boonen and Netherlands champion Terpstra were the first to be dropped as the climb began, with World champion Gilbert and Vansummeren following shortly after. BMC Racing was now leading the peloton at speed, however, and, despite a spirited resistance from Albasini, the break was caught with 24km to go.

BMC Racing’s Tejay van Garderen was leading Frank at the head of what remained of the peloton, but Kreuziger attacked past the two teammates close to the top of the climb, with 194km to go, and pulled the group of four riders clear on the descent.

The chase group was down to just van Garderen, Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Bauke Mollema (Blanco), Simon Spilak (Katusha), Tanel Kangert (Astana) Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp), Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R La Mondiale) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ). Mollema jumped clear on the wet descent, but the Dutchman was unable to close the gap to the leaders, which had grown to more than 30 seconds in the final 15km.

Sagan attacked first, inside the final kilometre, but Costa managed to close him down before they entered the finishing straight. It was to no avail, however, as Sagan easily outsprinted the Portuguese rider in the race for the line.

Meyer finished in a group 1’47” behind the lead group, which confirmed Frank as the new race leader.

Reactions to follow

A big group gets away with nobody to worry the favourites

The beginning of the stage saw the peloton split in the rainy conditions and, shortly after it had come back together, the 18-rider group escaped on the 3rd category Chemin de Lorette after 59.7km.

With Roulston, Boonen, Terpstra, Vansummeren, Gilbert, Kelderman, Breschel, Albasini and Elmiger were Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Maxime Bouet and Matteo Montaguti (both AG2R La Mondiale), Michael Mørkøv (Saxo-Tinkoff), Jorge Azanza (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Jérémy Roy (FDJ), Tom Dumoulin (Argos-Shimano), and Antony Delaplace and Rémi Pauriol (both Sojasun). The group managed to open a maximum lead of 3’20” over the peloton, which was maintained for most of the mid part of the stage.

Into the final 60km, however, the group’s number shrank to nine, and the peloton began to pull it back. There was disaster in the peloton, meanwhile, as 2012 Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) crashed and was taken to hospital.

Roulston led through the first intermediate sprint, in Brienz with 50km to go, with the gap down to two minutes as Movistar and Astana led the chase. The leaders were working hard together though, and began to widen the gap again, opening it to 2’10” with just under 40km to go. Across the Meiringen finish line at the start of the 37.3km finishing loop it was down to two minutes again, however, as Orica-GreenEdge took over the chase.

Boonen led over the 4th category Grimselstrasse climb with 34.5km to go and the gap had been cut to 1’31”, with Saxo-Tinkoff now the team leading the chase. BMC Racing then took over the head of the peloton but, as Terpstra led through the second intermediate sprint with 31km to go, the gap was down to 1’20” as the break began the 1st category Hasliberg climb.

The breakaway group shrinks and the peloton begins to accelerate

As the peloton hit the climb Georg Preidler (Argos-Shimano) attacked, just as Boonen and Terpstra were losing contact with the group up front. Gilbert too was struggling to hang on to the others and, with 27km to go, Vansummeren and then Roulston were also left behind by the lead group.

Lampre-Merida and Saxo-Tinkoff were now on the front of the peloton, but the gap to the leading group - now just Kelderman, Breschel, Albasini and Elmiger - was barely closing. With Gilbert caught BMC Racing then began to accelerate, however, slashing the break’s lead to just 37 seconds as the quartet entered the final 25km. Albasini promptly attacked, and left the other three behind, but the Swiss rider was finally swept up with just under 24km to go as Tejay van Garderen led Frank at the head of the chasing group.

The remains of the peloton was now down to less than 15 riders, as yellow jersey Meyer was gapped. Van Garderen and Frank briefly pulled clear of the rest of the group on a short descent, but the front of the race reformed as the climbing began again.

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) was sitting comfortably behind the two BMC Racing riders, with Kreuziger, Costa and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Bauke Mollema (Blanco), Simon Spilak (Katusha), Tanel Kangert (Astana) Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp), Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R La Mondiale) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) on the Slovakian champion’s wheel.

A kilometre from the top Kreuziger jumped past van Garderen and strung the group out still further. The Czech rider led over the top with 19.4km to go, and onto the narrow descent that followed, pulling Frank and Sagan clear of the rest of the group. Costa managed to jump across the gap to the trio, just as Sagan squeezed past Frank to get into second position.

Kreuziger was happy to continue leading, however, as the group opened up a 28 second lead over the chasers with 14km to go. Mollema jumped away from the group a kilometre later, to try to bridge across the gap, but the Dutch rider - wearing the white points jersey - was still 34 seconds behind the leading quartet with eight kilometres to go.

As the road levelled out inside the final kilometre, Mollema was 38 seconds behind the leaders, as Sagan attacked. The Slovakian was quickly closed down by Costa but, as they entered the finishing straight, Sagan won the sprint easily to take the stage, with Frank in fourth taking over the yellow jersey.

Result stage 3
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling
2. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar Team
3. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
4. Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team
5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling @ 39s
6. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team @ 46s
7. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp
8. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ
9. Tanel Kangert (Est) Team Astana
10. Jean-Christophe Péraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

Standings after stage 3
1. Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team
2. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 23s
3. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar Team @ 35s
4. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team @ 53s
5. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ @ 57s
6. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling @ 1’08”
7. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp @ 1’23”
8. Tanel Kangert (Est) Team Astana @ 1’26”
9. Jean-Christophe Péraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale @ 1’28”
10. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team @ 1’39”


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