Peter Sagan (Cannondale) won the third stage of the Tour de Suisse on Monday.
Michael Albasini (Orica-Greenedge) finished second in the sprint to the line, while Sergio Henao (Sky) placed third.
Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) retained his race lead, with Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) 6 seconds adrift and Sagan 14 seconds behind.
The final 2 kilometers of the 203km stage from Sarnen to Heiden were slightly uphill, and the front pack rode at a furious pace as the teams tried to position their sprinters near the front.
Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin) jumped to the front of the group and upped the pace with 1km left, a move that was followed 500 meters later by a quick surge by Martin. Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) matched Martin’s move and stayed glued to his wheel. Martin peeled off with 400 meters left as Evans found himself at the front of the bike race.
But Evans would not spend much time in that position.
With 200 meters remaining, Sagan and Albasini joined him and further upped the pace. As the riders at the front curled around the final right turn with 150 meters remaining, Sagan and Albasini were dead even. When the road straightened out, the pair launched their final sprint before Sagan reached the finish line first.
“It was a hard stage and the finale was really unpredictable” said Sagan. “There were many possible winners in the leading group but not many chances to play. When I saw Henao and Evans attacking, I decided to stay in the first position and to wait. I thought the two last corners could be the key moments of the sprint if we were together. On the last one, Albasini was the fastest. taking the perfect line. The only option I had was to take the outside line and to open the gas on the final straight. Everything went perfect.”
Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck, the older brother of 2010 Tour de France champion Andy, failed to make the start line on Monday after crashing badly during Sunday’s stage and suffering serious concussion.
Britain’s Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France champion, had a day to forget as he could only muster 74th on the stage, a significant 2:25 slower than Sagan and his main rivals for the overall title.
The race resumes with Tuesday’s stage 4, a 160km route from Heiden to Ossingen, which features two minor category 4 climbs, the second of which peaks 15km from the finish line.