Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) won the third stage of the Tour de Suisse with a trademark kick on a twisting sprint through the narrow ro
ads of Aarberg.
The Slovakian edged past Baden Cooke (Orica-GreenEdge) with Ben Swift (Sky) on his tail to claim his second stage win of this year’s race.
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Rui Costa (Movistar) maintained his overall lead of eight seconds over Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) as the top ten in the general classification remained unmoved on the largely flat stage.
As he did all spring, Saxo Bank’s Michael Morkov launched the break of the day after 5km and was joined by Jonas Vangenechten (Lotto-Belisol) and Guillaume Bonnafond (Ag2r-La Mondiale) as the trio rapidly built up a lead of eleven minutes.
The three looked to benefit from a remarkable stroke of luck as a level-crossing barrier scythed down on the chasing peloton. A small part of the bunch made it through before the race was momentarily neutralised and initial time gaps were restored.
The Sky ‘B-team,’ which looked no less strong than that which set the Dauphine alight last week, led the chase for Swift with Movistar and Liquigas lending a hand.
Their pace stretched the peloton along the ribbons of Swiss asphalt and the break’s advantage rapidly dropped until just a few seconds separated the two remaining escapees, Bonnafond and Morkov, on a rapid wet descent.
Some nervous riding through the glistening corners put Sagan, Cooke and Swift at the head of affairs but true to form it was Sagan who possessed the finishing power, even if he did have one leg out to stay upright on the penultimate turn.
Nevertheless Swift will be pleased with the result when many sprinters were unable to keep with the sensational Slovakian who continues his fine form leading to the Tour de France.
Tour de Suisse 2012, stage three: Martigny-Aalberg, 195km
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale in 4-35-32
2. Baden Cooke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge s.t.
3. Ben Swift (GBr) Sky Procycling s.t.
4. Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana s.t.
5. Allan Davis (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge s.t.
6. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ-BigMat s.t.
7. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale s.t.
8. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Barracuda s.t.
9. Daniele Colli (Ita) Team Type 1-Sanofi s.t.
10. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing s.t.
Overall classification after stage three
1. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar in 11-06-56
2. Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan at 8 secs
3. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 15 secs
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-BigMat at 19 secs
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 21 secs
6. Thomas Lovkvist (Swe) Sky at 21 secs
7. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 23 secs
8. John Gadret (Fra) Agr2-La Mondialeat 24 secs
9. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 26 secs
10. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Barracuda at 29 secs
Rui Costa keeps hold of the leader’s yellow jersey
Peter Sagan beats Baden Cooke and Ben Swift at the end of stage 3