Tour de Suisse: Peter Sagan takes a simple second victory on stage eight
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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Tour de Suisse: Peter Sagan takes a simple second victory on stage eight

by Ben Atkins at 1:33 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour de Suisse
Mathias Frank holds his lead as a late climb shrinks the peloton

peter sagan

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) took his second victory of the 2013 Tour de Suisse as he won what turned out to be a simple sprint at the end of the eighth stage, between Zernez and Bad Ragaz. The Slovakian champion, clad in the white and red points jersey, was easily able to see off the challenge from Daniele Bennati (Saxo-Tinkoff) and World champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) after the peloton had been reduced to just 34 riders by the late climb of St Luzisteig.

Yellow jersey Mathias Frank (BMC Racing) was part of the leading group that arrived at the finish behind Sagan, and had been working to position Gilbert for the sprint, and the Swiss rider held onto his race lead heading into the final time trial stage. Most of the riders in the top ten had also made it into the first peloton, with only Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEDGE) - who had suffered a puncture and a long chase not long before the climb began - losing 27 seconds to the others and dropping from eighth to tenth.

“I have to thank very much all my teammates for the amazing work they did to build this win” explained Sagan. “Today we knew was a great opportunity. The third category KoM in the final was the decisive point to make the group smaller, to leave behind the pure sprinters and to organise an orderly sprint. We moved as a great team.

“At this Tour de Suisse I went one step further for the Tour de France and my form is improving,” he added. “But before this important event I have another where I want to do well, the National championship.”

The 180.5km stage saw a long breakaway from Reto Hollenstein (IAM Cycling), Robert Vrecer (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Manuele Mori (Lampre-Merida) and Maxime Bouet (AG2R La Mondiale), who escaped early on and built a maximum lead of 5’48” as they crossed the 1st category Julierpass after 44km.

Steadily the quartet was reeled in by the peloton until, with the gap less than a minute with 25km to go, Hollenstein attacked and tried to go it alone. The Swiss rider was only able to further prolong his own agony, however, and was caught with caught with 17km to go as the peloton did its best to leave him out front for as long as possible.

Onto the 3rd category St. Luzisteig climb, with less than ten kilometres to go, several teams began to raise the pace to prevent anybody from getting clear. Andreas Klöden (RadioShack-Leopard) managed to briefly jump away, but the German was soon pulled back and the response from the Saxo-Tinkoff and Cannondale teams ensured that nobody else could attack. This also had the effect of reducing the peloton to less than 40 riders as it powered over the top with just 6.3km to go, and efforts from several teams - inclucing FDJ and BMC Racing - meant that those dropped were unable to rejoin.

Cannondale led into the final kilometre and, despite an early jump from Bennati, Sagan was easily able to win his second stage of the race.

Four get away over the day’s big climb

Hollenstein, Vrecer, Mori and Bouet managed to escape almost as soon as the stage had begun and managed to build an advantage of 5’18” by the time Vrecer led them over the Julierpass, which was the only serious obstacle of the day, after 44km. At the 50km point, however, the gap was already down to five minutes, and continued to fall as the race made its way along the predominantly downhill parcours.

With 29km left the gap fell below one minute and, just a few kilometres later, Hollenstein attacked. Mori and Vrecer chased the IAM Cycling rider for some time, but Bouet quickly drifted back to the peloton, which was now travelling at high speed under the impetus of Cannondale and Orica-GreenEdge.

With 20km to go Hollenstein was just ten seconds clear, however, but the peloton then widened as it slowed, to leave the Swiss rider out in front for as long as possible. Movistar then came to the front, but still the peloton toyed with the lone Hollenstein until, more through the IAM Cycling rider’s exhaustion than any effort on the peloton’s part, he was finally caught with 17km left.

With the peloton now at full cry Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge) punctured at the worst possible time and, abandoning the teammates that dropped back to help him, the Australian made his way back up through the cars alone. Team Sky and Movistar were leading the peloton on opposite sides of the road until Katusha took over alone, just as Meyer rejoined.

The late climb decimates the peloton as Cannondale turns the screw

Several teams fighting for the head of the peloton as it hit the foot of the 3rd category St. Luzisteig with just under ten kilometres to go, but it was Garmin-Sharp that began to set a strong pace as the climb began. Klöden launched his attack early in the climb, but he was calmly brought by Saxo-Tinkoff, with Cannondale line up behind. The Italian team then took control, with Sagan in second wheel, and set a pace that nobody was able to jump away from.

The field behind Cannondale was decimated, however, with less than 40 riders approaching the top of the climb together.

Jean-Christophe Péraud (AG2R La Mondiale) jumped away to take the points with 6.3km to go, but the Frenchman was back in the fold immediately afterwards. There was then a speculative attack from World champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), but he was immediately by Sagan and it was to come to nothing.

Arnaud Jeannesson (FDJ) then took control on the descent, with teammate Thibaut Pinot on his wheel, to prevent the rest of the peloton from rejoining. Two kilometres to go Cannondale and Saxo-Tinkoff took over again, towing Sagan and Bennati to the finish, but Frank and van Garderen began to bring Gilbert forward for the World champion to attempt to take his first victory of 2013.

Frank brought the Gilbert up to the front, and he got onto Sagan’s wheel with 400 metres to go, but it was Bennati that opened his sprint first. Sagan responded, however, and, once the Slovakian champion opened up his sprint, there was no getting past him and he sat up to celebrate what was an easy victory.

Result stage 8
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling
2. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
3. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
4. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge
5. Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
6. Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling
7. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
8. Julien Simon (Fra) Sojasun
9. Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Leopard
10. Simon Geschke (Ger) Argos-Shimano

Standings after stage 8
1. Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team
2. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar Team @ 13s
3. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 23s
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ @ 44s
5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling @ 46s
6. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team @ 1’17”
7. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp @ 1’23”
8. Tanel Kangert (Est) Team Astana @ 1’43”
9. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha Team @1’50”
10. Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge @ 2’09”


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