Arnaud Demare (FDJ) won the fourth stage of the Tour de Suisse on Tuesday.
The peloton came together with 2 kilometers left in the 174km stage from Innertkirchen to Buochs after Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Leopard) was caught following a valiant effort at the front of the race.
With less than 200 meters before the finish line, Demare made a daring move up the left side of the road and passed Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) and Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge). He took the inside line around the final left turn, and then led a frantic sprint to the finish.
Goss was second and Farrar took third.
“The whole team did great work for me even though it wasn’t easy all day long with this hilly route,” Demare told AFP. “In the last 25km I told myself I needed to recoup [energy] ahead of the sprint, knowing that there was great competition. I really am very happy to have succeeded against such good sprinters.”
Mathias Frank (BMC Racing) kept his 23-second GC lead over Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff). In third is Rui Costa (Movistar), 35 seconds behind Frank.
“It really worked out well for us with a small group going,” Frank said in a BMC release. “The last few kilometers were very nervous, but I have a really good team around me — the best guys you can have for this job. I was confident that I just had to stay in their wheel and they would keep me out of trouble.”
Oh so close
Voigt was part of an early breakaway group that eventually dwindled in size to two: Voigt and Robert Vrecer (Euskaltel-Euskadi). With 43km remaining, the pair had a lead of about two minutes over the peloton. They were able to stay ahead up and over the two climbs late in the stage, a Cat. 2 that peaked with about 41km left, and a Cat. 2 that finished with about 25km remaining.
They hit a brief snag with 8km to go when the cars and motorcycles traveling in front of the race were held up by a train crossing the road. By the time the two riders approached the scene, the warning gates were rising and the cars were starting to move again. Still, Voigt raised his arms in anger at the situation before the cars sped up — just in time.
As the pair entered a long straightaway buffeted by a crosswind, Voigt launched an attack and broke away from Vrecer with 5km left. But he quickly tired out, and it was only a matter of time before he would be caught.
The gap plummeted nearly 30 seconds until Voigt was swept up by the charging peloton at the 2km mark.
The race resumes with Wednesday’s 176km stage 5.