Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) kicked hard with 200 metres to go on stage three, which immediately gapped everyone. Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) put in a very good sprint to take second with Alaphilippe in third.
The Dutch champion, Van der Poel, also goes into the yellow jersey with Alaphilippe staying in second overall with a one second deficit. Former leader, Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) now sits in third at four seconds.
The race was exploded in the final 30km with Van der Poel attacking hard, which then led to Alaphilippe trying a move before various counters hit out. Iván García (Movistar) held on solo for a few kilometres but was caught in the last 800 metres.
How it happened
The third stage started in the stage two finish town of Lachen before heading over an undulating course of 182.1km and finishing in Pfaffnau.
Much like stage two, the break was made up of four riders. Those riders were Ben King (Rally), Rémy Rochas (Cofidis), local rider Mathias Frank (Ag2r-Citroën) and the most combative rider from the second stage, Claudio Imhoff (Switzerland). They managed a six-minute gap over the peloton.
Groupama-FDJ was the team that controlled the pace for much of the day yet again for their main man, Küng. But they were replaced by Alpecin-Fenix who dramatically upped the pace with 40km to go. All the other GC teams looked to be near the front as well, forcing the pace up.
This saw a couple of crashes but most riders managed to get back in without any major issues.
The break got to the bottom of the Rutsch climb, the second and final categorised climb of the day, with 1-23 but as Alpecin-Fenix and Bora-Hansgrohe returned to the front, the gap did start to plummet. Imhoff was the first rider dropped from the breakaway.
Rochas attacked with just over a kilometre to go on the climb, dropping Frank immediately with the Swiss veteran waving to the camera, enjoying the last race of his career. King also lost touch as Rochas kicked on solo with 25km to go, but the gap was inside 40 seconds to the peloton.
Van der Poel went on the attack at that same moment with Alaphilippe, Eddie Dunbar, Richard Carapaz (both Ineos Grenadiers), Esteban Chaves (BikeExchange), Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Omar Fraile (Astana-Premier Tech) but they were brought back.
Alaphilippe then countered that move as he looked to split the group and make it a very selective race. The world champion then used the fast descent to get a bit of a gap with 20km to go. Ineos Grenadiers and Astana-Premier Tech were the teams chasing but Alaphilippe’s team-mates were trying to block the chase.
Rohan Dennis was the man tasked to drag Alaphilippe back, which he did very quickly with 18km to go. Anthony Turgis (Total Direct Energie) attacked with Amund Grøndahl Jansen (BikeExchange) which then saw multiple riders try to bridge the gap.
Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) managed to get in the group that attacked off the front of the peloton and he took the three bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint ahead of Dunbar and Woods with 11km to go. Neilson Powless (EF Education-Nippo) and Marc Soler (Movistar) were in the lead group too but it was all brought back again a kilometre later.
García decided to hit the peloton when the pace dropped to go clear on his own. Behind, there was a delayed reaction but the chase came with multiple teams working to drag him back inside the final 8km.
There were only about 40 riders left in the bunch with Team BikeExchange keen to pull the Spaniard back for their sprinter, Michael Matthews along with Alpecin-Fenix. But the gap was holding at around 15 seconds as García went inside the last 6km.
Xandro Meurisse (Alpecin-Fenix) and Mauri Vansevenant (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) both did huge turns to pull García back inside the final kilometre.
Vansevenant led out the peloton with Van de Poel kicking first with 200 metres to go, Alaphilippe couldn't follow the acceleration of the Dutchman who powered to a second stage win in as many days.
Laporte managed to sprint to second place ahead of Alaphilippe. Van der Poel goes into the overall lead by one second over Alaphilippe and four over former leader Küng.
Stage four of the race is a bit flatter but does see one medium mountain in the final 20km before descending to the finish. The day starts in Sankt Urban and finishes 171km later in Gstaad.
Tour de Suisse 2021 stage three, Lachen to Pfaffnau (182.1km)
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix, in 4-24-26
2. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
3. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
4. Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange
5. Max Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
6. Alex Kamp (Den) Trek-Segafredo
7. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team DSM
8. Omar Fraile (Esp) Astana-Premier Tech
9. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
10. Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation, all at same time.
General classification after stage three
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix, in 8-49-14
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 1 second
3. Stefan Küng (Sui) Groupama-FDJ, at 4s
4. Max Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 6s
5. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 13s
6. Iván García (Esp) Movistar Team, at 16s
7. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, at 17s
8. Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo, at 29s
9. Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto-Soudal, at 37s
10. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education-Nippo, at 39s.
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