Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) launched an early sprint on stage three of the Tour de Suisse to take his first victory in nine months.
Heading into the final kilometre, the Slovakian had worked his way into prime position a couple of riders behind the front of the race. Andrea Pasqualon (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) started leading his teammate Alexander Kristoff to the line, but Sagan started his sprint early and managed to hold on to the race win with his superior power in the closing stages.
Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) tried his best to follow the TotalEnergies rider, but just didn't have the strength to close the gap to Sagan as he crossed the line in fourth place. Kristoff came third, while Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) stole second place on the line. Both Kristoff and Pidcock congratulated Sagan for winning the race immediately post-stage, his first at the team.
Meanwhile, Stephen Williams (Bahrain-Victorious) remains in control of the Tour de Suisse leader's jersey after stage three. The Welshman's lead on GC is at six seconds over Andreas Kron (Lotto Soudal).
HOW IT HAPPENED
Bahrain-Victorious rider Stephen Williams entered the third day of the Tour de Suisse wearing the leader's jersey, and told Cycling Weekly before the race that every day he manages to hold onto it is "a bonus", after his stage win on the first day.
The Welshman needed to contend with a punchy stage from Aesch to Grenchen, covering just under 180km with the rest of the peloton in the Jura hills.
The first attack of the day came from Mathias Reutimann (Switzerland), Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo), Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-EasyPost) and Manuele Boaro (Astana Qazaqstan). Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal) and Joey Rosskopf (Human Powered Health) soon joined the leaders up front, but the peloton initially worked hard to keep the gap below a minute.
Bahrain-Victorious, TotalEnergies and Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux all put the effort in, with a potential sprint finish available at the end of the race if they are in the optimal position. However, the distance between the break and bunch soon opened up, with three minutes soon the time gap.
Nicolas Prodhomme (AG2R Citroën) tried bridging across, but he found himself in no-man's land as he eventually had to concede defeat on his solo effort and drop back to the peloton. Meanwhile, a crash by Kamil Małecki (Lotto Soudal) saw him abandon the race.
Quinn Simmons extended his mountains classification lead by summiting the Côte au Bouvier first, the first of four classified climbs in the day. By this point, though, the peloton had brought the gap down to 2-30 as the race intensified somewhat. Predictably, Simmons picked up a further six mountain points at Bellelay, as the young American extended his virtual lead over three riders to 21 points.
With 50km remaining, the time gap stood at 1-50 as the peloton continued to eat into the leaders out front. Multiple bike changes for Marc Hirshi (UAE Team Emirates) also ensued at this point, as he expended extra energy on a stage that he might well have fancied a win on.
Out front, Bissegger attacked to try and up the pace. Simmons quickly joined him, with Gilbert and Rosskopf making the move to the front as well. However, Boaro and Reutimann were both dropped, eventually making their way back into the peloton. Simmons took more KOM points up Vauffelin, but, by this point, the peloton continued to reduce the time gap. With 33km to go, they managed to come within a minute of the front riders.
At this point, Bissegger attacked again, which ultimately worked to build up a gap. The Swiss rider livened up the tempo at his home race, leaving the other three riders behind and creating more than a minute gap to the peloton. He continued to attack each corner on the limit, utilising every millimetre of road available to him on the tight corners.
Heading up the final categorised climb of the day with 16km remaining, up Lommiswil, Bissegger's lead stood at just 25 seconds. He was soon caught with just over 11km in the race, which provided a largely flat run to the line in Grenchen. As soon as this happened, an attack by Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) secured the bonus seconds at Bellach.
UAE Team Emirates then took over at the front of the pack, with Team DSM soon taking over the mantle. Battles started in the final 5km, with each team's lead out attempting to get in the best position to launch their respective sprinters for the finale.
However, a crash involving eight riders reduced the peloton at the front, with Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) one of the riders caught out with just 4.3km left, damaging his GC hopes, as he ended up losing 53 seconds to the bunch.
Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) had worked his way into prime position in the final kilometre, sitting five bikes back from the front. From there, he proved unstoppable.
Andrea Pasqualon (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) started leading his teammate Alexander Kristoff to the line, but an early launch by Sagan left Kristoff with work to do. The Norwegian couldn't get his sprint working as he would've liked from there, as Sagan managed to win the race by a bike's length. In fact, Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) also overtook Kristoff, just hanging onto Sagan's back wheel in the closing stages to take second place.
Tom Pidcock crossed the line fourth, just missing out on a podium position. Fellow Briton Stephen Williams continues to lead the Tour de Suisse on GC, though, his lead growing to six seconds over Andreas Kron (Lotto Soudal).
TOUR DE SUISSE, STAGE THREE: AESCH TO GRENCHEN (176.9KM)
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) TotalEnergies, in 4-28-38
2. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Cofidis
3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
4. Tom Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
5. Alex Aranburu (Spa) Movistar
6. Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
7. Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM
8. Michael Matthews (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco
9. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
10. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-EasyPost, all at same time
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE THREE
1. Stephen Williams (GBr) Bahrain Victorious, in 13-32-19
2. Andreas Kron (Nor) Lotto Soudal, at 6s
3. Andreas Leknessund (Nor) Team DSM, at 7s
4. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at same time
5. Stefan Küng (Sui) Groupama FDJ, at 10s
6. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo Visma
7. Marc Hirschi (Sui) UAE Team Emirates
8. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Israel-Premier Tech
10. Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, all at same time
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Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.
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