Peter Sagan (Cannondale) barreled to victory in stage 8 of the 2013 Tour de Suisse on Saturday.
The 180.5km stage from Zernez to Bad Ragaz saw a long break from Maxime Bouet (Ag2r La Mondiale), Robert Vrecer (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Manuele Mori (Lampre-Merida) and Reto Hollenstein (IAM Cycling). They took a bit more than five minutes before the peloton grew interested, and with 50km to race the gap was down to 1:40.
The gap held steady as the break hit 35km to go, then plummeted to under a minute a half-dozen kilometers later. As the bunch closed in, Hollenstein decided to go it alone with 26km remaining.
It proved too long a row to hoe. Cannondale and Orica-GreenEdge soon were on the front of the bunch, sweeping up Hollenstein’s former comrades. And with 17km to race he was swept up, too, Blanco and Movistar having contributed some riders to the pursuit.
Shortly after the catch eighth-overall Cameron Meyer (Orica) had an untimely mechanical and found himself chasing through the caravan as Katusha took charge up front.
As the bunch barreled onto the final climb Andreas Klöden (RadioShack-Leopard) attacked without much effect. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) likewise had a go, as did world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), whom Sagan promptly quashed.
With 2km remaining Cannondale began setting up to sling Sagan to the line. Gilbert sneaked back into the mix as the line approached, but Sagan would not be denied. He took the win ahead of Daniele Bennati (Saxo-Tinkoff) with Gilbert third.
“I have to thank all my teammates for the amazing work they did to build this win,” said Sagan. “Today we knew was a great opportunity. The third-category climb was the decisive point to get an orderly sprint.
“It’s one step further for the Tour de France and my form is improving.”
Mathias Frank (BMC) remains the overall leader going into Sunday’s individual time trial. Rui Da Costa (Movistar) sits second at 13 seconds while Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) is third at 23 seconds.
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more from the Tour de Suisse.