World champion Sagan looked most suited to the finish of stage three; an uphill drag to the line which wouldn’t suit the pure fast men like stage one winner Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step).
And that’s how it panned out, with the twisting corners in the final kilometre splintering the peloton and lining the riders out, there was no chance for a lead-out train to properly organise, favouring those riders like Sagan who can surf wheels before the sprint.
Rick Zabel was the only rider really pulling for a big sprint in the final 300 metres, but his Katusha leader Alexander Kristoff was unable to do anything about Sagan who navigated his way from the middle of the pack to the left and power straight past everyone to take victory.
How it happened
Sagan’s Bora team had been one of the hardest working throughout a relatively straight forward day’s racing in California. His brother, Juraj Sagan, spent a considerable amount of time working on the front to protect Rafal Majka.
The peloton did let a customary breakaway get up the road though, with five men getting away very early on in the 192.5km stage.
Danny Pate (Rally Cycling), Federico Zurlo (UAE Team Emirates), David Lozano (Team Novo Nordisk), Sean Bennett and Ben Wolfe (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) worked together to establish maximum gap five minutes, but the peloton had them under control as the gap gradually reduced.
The five still had 50 seconds with 20km to go, before Ben Wolfe decided it was time to go solo with 18.5km to go.
While his three former breakaway companions were caught shortly after his attack, Wolfe held on admirably, carrying 25 seconds into the final 10km of the route.
But short climb with 8.5km to go saw his efforts come to naught, and the peloton enveloped him and geared up for the sprint finish into Morro Bay, which saw another success for Bora and a first of the 2017 race for Sagan.
Thursday’s stage four sees the riders take on four categorised climbs and a tough finish to Santa Clarita after nearly 160km.
Tour of California 2017, stage three: Pismo Beach – Morro Bay (192.5k)
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 4-53-26
2. Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
3. Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin
5. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
6. Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data
7. Taylor Phinney (USA) Cannondale-Drapac
8. Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Sunweb
9. Travis Mccabe (USA) UnitedHealthcare
10. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb, all same time
General classification after stage three
1. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 12-22-43
2. George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, at 2s
3. Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky , at 14s
4. Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data, at 16s
5. Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, at 45s
6. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team, at 48s
7. Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb
8. Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac
9. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors
10. Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates, all same time