Late attack frustrates the all-rounders as Peter Sagan takes fourth on Tour of California stage 3.
The Tour of California’s GC race really started to heat up on stage 2, but with a parcours that suited the all-rounders, it was every man for himself today, with the stronger sprinters and faster climbers looking to take the victory, while the riders in the overall race would be aiming to take time. In the end, it was an attack in the final 30km that took the glory, leaving the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, to fight among the chasers to take fourth spot, with Rafał Majka coming in with the bunch to hold his second position in the overall standings.
After a hard second stage, it was another day of undulating terrain for the peloton today at the Tour of California. Not only was the distance longer, at 197km, but the day saw riders tackle five categorised climbs – three of which were second category. The final three of these were squeezed into the final 30km before the finish in Laguna Seca, and while there wasn’t a summit finish like on stage two, these closely packed climbs would make it hard to predict who would be able to go for the win – a strong one-day rider would be in as good a position to contest the finale as a punchy climber.
The Team Tactics
The profile meant an all-rounder had a good chance of taking the stage win, but while the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, would have an eye on the victory, the team was just as focused on keeping Rafał Majka safe in the GC race, having jumped to second in the overall standings on Gibraltar Road yesterday. Much of the team’s tactics would depend on how the day unfolded and who was in contention in the closing stages.
The GC race had really come to life on yesterday’s stage, but on a parcours like today’s, the GC riders would see competition from the all-rounders, who would be going for the stage win. With a lot at stake on the day, it took some time for the day’s break to get away, the peloton making the eventual group of three work hard to escape. Once they were away though, they held their gap much of the day, but having broken the five-minute barrier, the peloton started working to reduce their lead, and as always, BORA-hansgrohe were instrumental in bringing the leaders back to a more manageable distance. With the final 10km looming and the escape within touching distance, some attacks came from the peloton, driving the bunch to up the pace, stretching this group thin as the speeds increased. In spite of a hard effort from the chasers, the two leaders frustrated the group by staying out in front as they entered the famous Laguna Seca racetrack for the finale, taking first and second, with the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, fighting it out in a reduced bunch sprint to take fourth. Finishing safely with the bunch, Rafał Majka held his second position in the GC. With a change of scene for tomorrow’s Individual Time Trial, Maciej Bodnar would fly the flag for BORA-hansgrohe on a challenging 34.7km route.
01 T.Skujinš 4h53’47”
02 S.Bennett + 0:03
03 C.Ewan + 0:08
04 P.Sagan + 0:08
05 E.Bernal + 0:08
From the Finish Line
"Stage 3 of the Tour of California was very hard, very fast, started with cool temperatures and was hot at the finish. I'm starting to get into race mode after my high-altitude training and today as well, I had good sensations. We would have liked to win but it was very tough. All the guys gave their best and we will keep fighting every day." – Peter Sagan
"It was a very hard and demanding stage and I'm proud of the work of all the BORA-hansgrohe riders. They pulled in a tremendous effort from start to finish but, unfortunately, in the end, we weren't able to achieve our goal today, which was for Peter Sagan to win. That's part of cycling, the escapees were strong today and the bunch wasn't able to close the gap. Tomorrow we have an individual time-trial and we will try to do our best with Maciej Bonar." – Patxi Vila