Tour de Suisse stage 3: Peter Sagan blasts back with bunch sprint stunner
Triple world champion wins for first time since last September and opens account for new team TotalEnergies.
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Peter Sagan (Team TotalEnergies) returned to the frame with sprint victory at the Tour de Suisse.
The triple world champ surfed the wheels to perfection through a tricky, crash-blighted final into Grenchen before coming off the wheels of the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert leadout to land his first win for Team TotalEnergies.
Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) and Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) went two-three behind the Slovak supremo.
The result comes perfectly timed for Sagan.
The 32-year-old hadn’t won in nine months, with his last WorldTour victory coming further back in last year’s Giro d’Italia.
TotalEneries splashed big cash on the VIP of pro cycling this winter and so far, Sagan was yet to deliver after suffering with COVID and other illnesses in the spring.
“I told you already it’s hard to get back in a racing mood afer my sickness and three months without racing – it just needs time,” he said at the finish.
“It’s just a stage win, I’m happy for that and for the team, they did a great job on the front pulling all day. In the end I made it, and I’m just happy for that.”
Sagan’s next big race? The Tour de France.
Is he back?
“Well, it’s nice to be back,” was his typically curt reply to the television interviewer.
Stephen Williams (Bahrain Victorious) finished safe in the bunch to retain his overall lead.
US stars make the break
Matthias Reutimann (Swiss national team) started the attacking on another long hot day soon after the flag drop.
KoM jersey-wearing Coloradan Quinn Simmons (Trek Segafredo) was quick to come across with Manuele Boaro (Astana Qazaqstan) and home star Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-EasyPost).
Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal) and U.S champion Joey Rosskopf (Human Powered Health) moved next and the six-rider break was established.
Simmons looked sharp all day, jumping on Bisseger’s wheel when the Swissman attacked heading into the final hour and going over the top of his rival on the Vauffelin climb to score even more points in his quest for the KoM jersey.
Bissegger attacked again at 33km to go and this one stuck.
The time trial ace went away and took 40 seconds of a lead but it never looked likely to stick in one of the few sprint opportunities of the week.
Bissegger and the ecapees were never given much room all day.
TotalEnergies and then BikeExchange and Intermarché-Wanty Gobert piled on at the front throughout the stage after the break took the stage Monday, and the hard TT-ing Bissegger was reeled in at 11km to go, and a sprint was on the cards.
Thomas, surprises with sprint points, Schachmann undone by crash
Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) surprised the GC pack when they darted off the front at the final intermediate sprint at 9km to go.
The move gave Thomas an extra three seconds that vaulted him up the closely-knit classification ahead of the decisive mountain stages to come.
The Welshman now sits fourth overall, just seven seconds back on countryman Williams.
Schachmann also scored bonus points only to see a crash in the bunch at 4km to go leaving him with a ripped-up jersey and losing the valuable seconds he won just kilometers before.
Up next: Another long hilly one
Racing resumes out of Grenchen for stage 4 on Wednesday. A bunch of lumps and bumps fill the first 170km of the 192km stage before a short steep Cat.2 climb comes to cause complications for the sprinters.
Results will be available once stage has completed.