It was heartbreak for Marc Hirschi after he was denied a breakaway win for the second time at the 2020 Tour de France.
Having been beaten in the sprint as Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) took yellow on stage two, this time he was outsprinted by Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), who took stage honours, and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), who entered the race lead.
This time around his sprint was blunted by the 90km he spent off the front of the race, the Swiss rider showing his strength to make it into the break after a hard start to racing where the bunch shut down wave after wave of attacks.
The GC battle erupted behind him on the Col de Marie Blanque and Hirschi descended like a stone to try and stay out of reach. As he furiously pedalled towards the finish the elite group closed in on him, then deciding to sit up and try his luck in the sprint, which didn't pay off.
"I'm not happy, I feel pretty sad that I didn't win," a dejected Hirschi said after the finish. "I had to focus on my plan because I knew I had to go as fast as possible to the finish. Today was not like yesterday where they gifted time to the breakaway."
While Ag2r La Mondiale's Nans Peters had been allowed enough time to solo to a stage win, Hirschi can take solace in the fact it took the riders who will fight for the yellow jersey to only just pull him back in time for the finish line.
"Yeah for sure, I'm happy with my performance and how it went, but two times now I was so close and was beaten," he said.
Sunweb had planned for Hirschi to get in the break, and after the chasers weren't really gaining on their rider they encouraged him to try and make his move stick, sports director Matt Winston said.
"He came over the last climb with some time so we committed to the finish and then the gap came down pretty big when the chasers were working for GC so he waited and we gambled in the sprint. All-round it was a superb effort. He's super disappointed but he's really shown what the future holds."
The 22-year-old rider boasts Fabian Cancellara as his agent, who has tipped his rider as cycling's equivalent to Kylian Mbappé, the PSG forward and World Cup winner with France, whatever that analogy means for riding a bike. He was also the U23 world road race champion in 2018 before stepping up to the WorldTour with Sunweb last year.
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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