Stefan Bissegger was the strongest from a four-man breakaway, winning in a sprint to the line on the airport runway in Gstaad on stage four of the Tour de Suisse 2021, with Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) keeping yellow.
Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo) took victory from the break after the climb saw Joel Suter (Switzerland) dropped, leaving Benjamin Thomas (Groupama-FDJ) and Joey Rosskopf (Rally) to fill the respective podium spots in the final sprint for the line.
The Swiss rider, Bissegger has only been a professional for six months but he has already won a stage of Paris-Nice and now Tour de Suisse as well.
Van der Poel held on over the day's final climb and avoided any splits in the rain at the finish to keep his one-second advantage over Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) in the general classification.
How it happened
Stage four of the Tour de Suisse would see the riders tackle 171km between Sankt Urban and Gstaad with a largely flat stage before one categorised climb, Saanenmöser Pass, before a descent to the line.
One break did go clear in the early part of the stage but it was dragged back relatively quickly before four strong riders went clear. They were Benjamin Thomas (Groupama-FDJ), Joel Suter (Switzerland), Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo) and Joey Rosskopf (Rally). They achieved a gap of over eight minutes at its peak.
Back in the peloton, several teams seemed keen to chase the break for much of the day until around 30km to go when all the riders on the front of the peloton knocked off their efforts. This allowed the gap to the break, that had come down considerably, stretch out yet again to 7-30 at the base of the climb with 20km to go.
Rosskopf attacked multiple times on the early slopes of the climb which dropped Suter, whittling it down to three riders. Back in the main bunch, Bahrain-Victorious were the team pacing for their leader Wout Poels bringing the gap inside seven minutes.
Thomas attacked the break just before the top of the climb but he was closed down by Bissegger and Rosskopf. By this point, Suter was properly distanced with 9km to go.
The three riders continued to hammer each other with attacks but all three used their exceptional time trial engines to not let any move go.
It eventually came down to a three-up sprint with Rosskopf leading out. Bissegger kicked hard from second wheel and held off the sprint of Thomas to take his second win as a professional rider.
Behind, the peloton finished at high speed with Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) leading in the bunch. Both Alaphilippe and Van der Poel stayed together in the peloton meaning the latter keeps yellow going into the first major climbing stage of the race.
Stage five of the Tour de Suisse starts in today's finish town of Gstaad and takes on four categorised climbs with one at the start before a pan flat stretch to three climbs and a summit finish on Leukerbad after 175.2km.
Tour de Suisse 2021, stage four: Sankt Urban to Gstaad (171km)
1. Stefan Bissegger (Sui) EF Education-Nippo, in 3-46-21
2. Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
3. Joey Rosskopf (USA) Rally Cycling, all at same time
4. Joel Suter (Sui) Switzerland, at 23 seconds
5. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, at 5-16
6. Juan Sebastian Molano (Col) UAE Team Emirates
7. Omar Fraile (Esp) Astana-Premier Tech
8. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
9. Fred Wright (GBr) Team Bahrain Victorious
10. Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange, all at same time
General classification after stage four
1. Methieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix, in 12-40-51
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 1 second
3. Stefan Küng (Sui) Groupama-FDJ, at 4s
4. Max Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 6s
5. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 13s
6. Iván García (Esp) Movistar Team, at 16s
7. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, at 17s
8. Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo, at 29s
9. Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto-Soudal, at 37s
10. Stefan Bissegger (Sui) EF Education-Nippo, at 38s
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