The world champion prevailed in the bunch sprint to beat Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) to the line in Ardooie, Belgium. Rudy Barbier (Ag2r La Mondiale) came home for third.
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There was no change to the overall leader, with the previous day’s time trial winner Stefan Küng (BMC Racing) retaining his spot at the top of the general classification four seconds ahead of Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe). Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) is third at five seconds. Sagan’s bonus seconds for winning elevate him up to fourth at five seconds.
After the start in Blankenberge, the day’s early escape group formed consisting of Piet Allegaert (Sport Vlaanderen-Balois), Elmar Reinders (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij), Kristijan Koren (Cannondale-Drapac), Frederik Backaert (Wanty Groupe Gobert) and Sander Cordeel (Vérandas Willems-Crelan).
This quintet built up a gap of a few minutes, but as on the opening stage on Monday they were kept under close watch by the bunch.
The day offered up a mixture of road surfaces, with well-groomed urban roads coupled with rough country tracks. None really served to break up the flow of the race, with the peloton staying together in its chase of the break.
Into the final 10km, the break’s advantage was slimmed right down to under 20 seconds with the sprinters’ teams starting to assemble at the front of the bunch.
With the peloton breathing down their necks, Reinders launched a last-hope attack followed by Cordeel. However, their time left out front was short-lived and all five were mopped up with 6km to go.
The finale of the stage was less than straightforward, with a series of tight turns including a chicane at the one-kilometre-to-go point. It didn’t help that the rain started to come down just in time for the finish.
With 2km to go, Bora-Hansgrohe and Trek-Segafredo had battled to the front of the bunch ahead of the technical final kilometres. Almost inevitably, a crash occurred on a corner, taking down a couple of Cannondale-Drapac riders and holding up many others.
Jempy Drucker (BMC) tried to capitalise on the disruption of the bunch by attacking into the final kilometre, but he ran out of steam as the sprinters revved into action behind him.
Sagan led the charge all the way along the finish straight, but none could get on terms with him as he lunged to the line to take his second victory of the race after he also won the opening stage.
Several of the big sprint names were once again ruled out after being caught out in the run-in to the finish, with Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors), Elia Viviani (Team Sky) and André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) all out of the top 10.
The 2017 BinckBank Tour – formerly known as the Eneco Tour – continues with stage four on Thursday, starting and finishing in Lanaken. It should be another day for the sprinters – and another day for Sagan, with the possibility of him taking his 100th career win.
BinckBank Tour 2017, stage three: Blankenberge to Ardooie, 186km
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
2. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
3. Rudy Barbier (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
4. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
5. Loic Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing
6. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-Scott
7. Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
9. Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
10. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Team Sunweb, all same time
General classification after stage three
1. Stefan Küng (Sui) BMC Racing, in 8-15-08
2. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 4 secs
3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 5 secs
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 5 secs
5. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb, at 8 secs
6. Lars Boom (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 10 secs
7. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, at 12 secs
8. Matthias Brändle (Sui) Trek-Segafredo, at 14 secs
9. Miles Scotson (Aus) BMC Racing, at 15 secs
10. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 17 secs