Stefan Bissegger smashes Paris-Nice 2021 time trial on stage three to take overall lead

The young Swiss rider beat some of the biggest names in the sport in his first TT win and moved into the overall lead

Stefan Bissegger dominated the 2021 Paris-Nice time trial on stage three, beating former world champions and Grand Tour winners to take the overall lead.

The EF Education-Nippo rider set off late in the day and had some tough times to beat ahead of him, including the likes of Primož Roglič and Rémi Cavagna.

But 22-year-old Bissegger wasn’t daunted by the calibre of his rivals, setting the fastest time at the intermediate timing check and narrowly holding onto his advantage by the finish.

Bissegger won the stage by a solitary second over Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), with his performance also catapulting him into the race lead after usurping Michael Matthews (BikeExchange).

How it happened

The third stage of Paris-Nice 2021 was set to be a decisive moment in the fight for the overall title, as riders took on a short 14.4km individual time trial course around the town of Gien.

Opening with a short flat section, the road then turned upward 2km into the route for a short climb, followed by a rolling middle section and a fast downhill finish from the 11km mark. 

The road then ramped up in the final 100 metres with a tough sharp climb to the line. 

The fastest of the early times went to former double world time trial champion Rohan Dennis (Ineos Grenadiers), who flew around the course in a time of 17-48, with an average speed of 48.5km/h, which comfortably placed him at the top of the standings. 

But Dennis’s time was almost toppled by his team-mate Dylan Van Baarle, who also set a time of 17-48 but was a fraction of a second slower with an average speed of 48.4km/h. 

The general classification contenders then began to take to the course, with Jumbo-Visma’s Steven Kruijswijk crossing the intermediate time check in second place, just three seconds slower than Dennis, then coming in to the finish with an impressive time of 17.54, which provisionally put him in the top-five. 

Giro d’Italia winner Tao Geoghegan Hart put in a slightly disappointing TT performance, finishing around 30 seconds down on his rivals, while reigning champion Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) put in a storming ride to finish just two seconds slower than Kruijswijk.  

While it was beginning to look like Dennis may have secured his first time trial win since the 2019 World Championships in Yorkshire, Team DSM’s Søren Kragh Andersen took to the course and looked to be in untouchable form.

After passing through the first timing check two seconds faster than Dennis, Andersen was able to maintain his advantage at the finish and knock the Australian out of the hotset with a three-second advantage.

But the win wasn’t secure yet for the Dane, with Hour Record-holder Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka-Assos) and GC contender Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) both powering through the intermediate time check still within touching distance. 

By the finish, Campenaerts had fallen well behind and was outside of the top placings, but double Vuelta a España winner Roglič hit the final climb with a blistering pace and powered his way to the line out of the saddle.

The Slovenian dominated not only his GC rivals, but also the stage leaders, moving into the provisional lead for the stage with a 17-41, four seconds faster than Andersen. 

But Roglič wasn’t allowed the chance to enjoy his time in the lead, as Rémi Cavagna was obliterating the course.

The Frenchman gave absolutely everything and smashed Roglič’s time by six seconds, taking the provisional lead with a time of 17-34, an average speed of 49,1/km/h. 

While it looked like Cavagna may have finally found the winning time, EF Education-Nippo had other ideas as their young Swiss rider Stefan Bissegger came through with an absolutely remarkable time. 

Bissegger crossed the line just one-second faster than Cavagna, after holding an average speed of 49.17km/h, but it was enough to secure his first ever pro TT win in his first full season at WorldTour level.  

Having wrapped up the stage victory, the next question for Bissegger was whether he could take the leader’s yellow jersey from the shoulders of Michael Matthews.

Matthews looked to be losing his grip on the race lead and the mid-way timing check and came to the finish climb with just a few seconds left on his race lead.

By the line Matthews had slipped back to 17th on the stage and had lost 23 seconds to Bissegger, falling out of the race lead in the process.

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Bissegger now leads Paris-Nice, but sits on the same time as Cavagna in third. 

Roglič now sits third overall, just six seconds behind the leader.  

Results

Paris-Nice 2021 stage three, Gien to Gien (14.4km ITT)

1. Stefan Bissegger (Sui) EF Education-Nippo, in 17-34
2. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at same time
3. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 6s
4. Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates, at 9s
5. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM, at 10s
6. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers), at 13s
7. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, at same time
8. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers, at 14s
9. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 16s
10. Patrick Bevin (Nzl) Israel Start-Up Nation, at same time

General classification after stage three

1. Stefan Bissegger (Sui) EF Education-Nippo, in 8-37-11
2. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at same time
3. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 6s
4. Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates, at 9s
5. Michael Matthews (Aus), Team BikeExchange, at same time
6. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM, at 10s
7. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo, 12s
8. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, at 13s
9. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers, at 14s
10. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 15s