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Launching a powerful attack on the final climb, Sagan joined Albasini and Dillier to form a trio before beating his companions in a sprint on stage 3 of the Tour de Suisse; the Slovakian takes the overall lead

Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images








13.06.2016 @ 17:58 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) put on an amazing show to make it two in a row at the Tour de Suisse when he won today’s third stage in impressive fashion. With a powerful attack on the final climb, he caught Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Silvan Dillier (BMC) and finally beat the Swiss pair in a 3-rider sprint. Maximilano Richeze (Etixx-QuickStep) won the sprint for fourth three seconds later and the gains and time bonuses were enough for Sagan to take the race lead.


Yesterday Peter Sagan became the first rider in the history to win 12 stages at the Tour de Suisse. However, he complained that it was a bit boring to ride all day in the peloton and just do a real race for 250m in the end.


Today he had a great chance to add to his tally in the hilly third stage and the most obvious choice would be to wait for another sprint finish. Inspired by his words from yesterday, he chose a different approach and he put on an amazing show to take his second consecutive win in the race.


When the Tinkoff team was running out of steam in the chase behind leaders Michael Albasini and Silvan Dillier, Sagan took things into his own hands on the final climb, accelerating off the front and quickly bridging the gap. Despite a hard chase effort from the Etixx-QuickStep and Giant-Alpecin teams in the splintered peloton, the trio stayed away and Sagan narrowly beat Albasini in a close sprint to increase his tally to thirteen.


The stage had really come to life on the final lap of the 27km finishing circuit. At that point, Dillier, Huub Duijn, Antwan Tolhoek (Roompot), Mathew Hayman (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Sven Erik Bystrøm (Katusha) were ahead with an advantage of 1.35 over a reduced peloton that was led by Sander Armee (Lotto Soudal), Ivan Rovny, Jay McCarthy and Juraj Sagan (Tinkoff). The fast pace on the wet rods had split the peloton and a second group arrived 10 seconds later. It was led by Trek captain Peter Stetina who was desperately trying to avoid an unnecessary time loss.


Rovny ended his work and instead Manuele Boaro came to the fore to work with McCarthy, Sagan and Armee. Meanwhile, Dillier beat Bystrøm and Duijn in the final intermediate sprint to reduce his overall deficit to 7 seconds. The peloton crossed the line just 55 seconds later after having caught Bruno Pires (Roth), Branislau Samoilau (CCC) and Gregory Rast (Trek) who had been part of the early break.


With 20km to go, the gap was down to just 35 seconds and moments later they hit the first climb. Here Tolhoek fell off the pace after having secured the mountains jersey earlier in the stage


Christopher Juul hit the front for Orica-GreenEDGE to set Michael Albasini up for a big attack. The Swiss sprinted past Tolhoek and quickly got a big gap as it was now only Armee and McCarthy doing the work. Meanwhile, the second peloton was losing ground rapidly and they would never make it back.


The peloton exploded on the climb and surprisingly Fabian Cancellara (Trek) was one of the riders to lose contact. Further up the road, Duijn led Bystrøm and Dillier over the top while Hayman dropped back to help Albasini.


Hayman and Albasini joined the leaders on the descent and Hayman went straight to the front to set a brutal pace. Meanwhile, Lotto Soudal chased hard with Tosh van der Sande and Pim Ligthart as Tinkoff had now blown up


The leaders hit the final climb with an advantage of 35 seconds. Hayman emptied himself on the lower slopes and then dropped off. Duijn also lost contact, leaving just Albasini, Dillier and Bystrøm to press on. However, the Norwegian quickly had to surrender.


Tim Wellens took over the pace-setting Lotto Soudal and made the peloton explode to pieces. Cancellara who had rejoined the peloton, was suffering at the back and one of the first to lose contact.


When Wellens swung off, Sagan went to the front to set the pace himself and then suddenly accelerated from the first position. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) did his best to hang on but the Australian quickly had to give up. Sagan sprinted past Hayman, Duijn and Bystrøm and crested the summit just a fw metres behind Dillier and Albasini whileMatthews joined forces with Bystrøm.



Sagan joined Albasini and Dillier as they passed the 10km to go banner and he immediately started to cooperate with his companions. Further back, a 20-rider group mainly composed of GC riders had gathered. Maximilano Richeze (Etixx-QuickStep) had made the selection though.


Matthews and Bystrøm were brought back by the peloton while race leader Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) found himself a bit further back. However, strong work from Wellens and Tiesj Benoot allowed him to rejoin the main group with 7km to go.


After the GC riders had traded pulls, Etixx-QuickStep and Giant-Alpecin started to chase had with Yves Lampaert, Zdenek Stybar ,Petr Vakoc and Sam Oomen, trying to set Rciheze and Simon Geschke up for the sprint. After the gap had reached a maximum of 15 seconds, they reduced it to 10 seconds with 5km to go.


Sagan tried to attack but Albasini managed to close the gap and as Dillier also made it back, the trio was back together with 4km to go. The two Swiss refused to work with the Slovakian for a few moments but finally they again started to trade pulls.


With 2.5km to go, the gap was 10 seconds and the fast pace in the peloton made it split, leaving just around 20 riders in the main group. Roelandts was one of the riders to be distanced as there were suddenly riders all over the road.


Albasini led the front trio under the flamme rouge before Sagan again took over. Further back, Vakoc swung off as the final domestique and the peloton came to a standstill.


That allowed a regrouping to take place and it was Benoot who went to the front with Roelandts on his wheel. The Belgian went full gas but it was too late. Albasini tried to surprise Sagan by launching a long sprint but the world champion had saved enough to just come around the local rider on the line. Richeze beat Roelandts in the sprint for fourth 3 seconds later.


With the bonus seconds and small gap, Sagan takes the race lead with a 3-second advantage over Roeleandts and Dillier. He should have a relatively easy day in tomorrow’s fourth stage which is the flattest of the race. There’s an early category 2 climb but from there it is a flat run until the riders face a relatively easy category 3 climb. The top comes with 9.9km to go and then it’s a downhill and flat run to the finish where the sprinters are expected to get their final chance.


A difficult finishing circuit

After yesterday’s sprint stage, it was another lumpy affair on stage 3 which brought the riders over 192.6km from Grosswangen to Rheinfelden. After a flat start, the riders tackled two climbs at the midpoint before the got to the 27km finishing circuit which they had to cover twice. It included two short, steep climbs, with the final challenge averaging 9.6% over 1300m. The top was located 11.5km from the finish and from there it was a flat run to the finish.


Rain had been forecasted for the stage, but it was dry as the peloton gathered for the start. Sam Bewley (Orica-GreenEdge) - one of the key riders in Michael Matthews' train – was the only non-starter.


Eight riders get clear

Like yesterday, it did not take long for the breakaway to be established. Silvan Dillier (BMC) was the first to get a considerable gap, but he had to fight hard to defend a lead of about 15 seconds before Sven Erik Byström (Katusha), Gregory Rast (Trek), Mathew Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge), Branislau Samoilau (CCC), Bruno Pires (Roth), Antwan Tolhoek and Huub Duijn (Roompot) joined him. The peloton accepted the composition of the relatively large group, and therefore the gap rapidly grew to 3.45 after a first hour during which the peloton covered 43.9km.


Lotto Soudal and Tinkoff took charge in the peloton but nevertheless the gap grew to a maximum of 5.03 after 68km of racing. It stabilized around five minutes and was still 5.15 with 100km to go. The riders covered 43.5km after the second hour.


KOM points for Tolhoek

Unsurprisingly, Tolhoek won the first KOM sprint ahead of Duijn Pires, Hayman and Dillier, and thus he took over the lead in the mountains competition. Lotto Soudal and Tinkoff led the field to the top 4.45 behind the leaders.


Lotto Soudal and Tinkoff gradually increased its speed. With 70km to go, they have reduced the gap to just 3.40. Moments later, Tolhoek beat Pires, Duijn and Dillier in the second KOM sprint


Bonus seconds for Dillier

Jelle Wallays, Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal), Maciej Bodnar and Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff) rode full gas on the front of the peloton as the big group posed a big threat. At the first passage of the finish line, the escapees were still 2.55 ahead.


Dillier was the only rider to show interest in the first intermediate sprint which he easily won ahead of Bystrøm and Dillier. Meanwhile, Evgeny Petrov joined forces with his Tinkoff teammates on the front of the peloton, reducing the gap to 2.30 with 45km to go.


Txurruka attacks

As they hit the first climb on the circuit, Amets Txurruka (Orica-GreenEDGE) launched a strong attack and while he started to build an advantage, Tolhoek and Pires sprinted for the KOM points. The Dutchman won the battle.


Pires and Tolhoek continued their attack and quickly put 10 seconds into their chasers while Txurruka crested the summit with a 15-seond advantage over the peloton. With 40km to go, he had pushed the advantage out to 35 seconds while the peloton was still 2.30 behind the front duo.


The break split up

The breakaway was back together at the bottom of the final climb of the circuit. Here Bystrøm set a brutal pace that sent Samoilau, Pires and Rast out the back door. Tolhoek had been looking too much at Pires and was briefly caught out but made it back in time to beat Bystrøm, Dillier and Hayman in the KOM sprint. Txurruka crested the summit 2.00 later while the peloton was 29 seconds further adrift.


Rain started to fall heavily as the peloton had split in two but it came back together as they had finished the descent. The situation was getting critical for the peloton as Vanendert, Wallays, Petrov and Bodnar ended their work and so it was now only the Tinkoff trio of Rovny, Juraj Sagan and Jay McCarthy riding on the front. Txurruka was brought back.


The Tinkoff team did a great job to reduce the gap to just 1.35 at the penultimate passage of the line where Sander Armee (Lotto Soudal) started to work with the Russians. The fast pace on the wet rods had split the peloton and a second group arrived 10 seconds later. Moments later they hit the first climb where the exciting finale started.



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