Peter Sagan back in black points jersey after taking fourth in Tour de Suisse stage 8 sprint.
Having spent the past three days in the mountains and with one road stage left on which to contest the win, the sprinters took centre stage today, eager to make their mark after what had been a slow three days for them in the grupetto. On a shorter stage that took place on a circuit ridden six times, speeds were high from the drop of the flag, setting the tone for a fast and furious stage. The UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, was brought to the finish by his BORA-hansgrohe teammates, but while he had the power, the Slovak rider was just unable to take the win, taking fourth on the line. This top five finish gave Peter the points he needed to retake the Tour de Suisse black jersey as the race enters its final day.
The final road stage of this year’s Tour de Suisse had an altogether different character from the previous days in the mountains. While the terrain was gently undulating, there were no categorised climbs over the entire profile, making for some fast speeds on the 123.8km route. What the stage lacked in climbing, which took place on a 21.5km circuit of Bellinzona ridden six times, was more than made up for in technicality, with the racing taking place over a mix of wide open roads and narrow city streets – the latter meaning street furniture, roundabouts, and tight turns, which could catch out an unwary rider. The finale, while flat, was narrow, and while there was every chance of a bunch sprint finish, riders would have to make sure they were positioned well in order not to be caught against the barriers when the sprinters kicked.
The Team Tactics
The sawtooth profile may have looked difficult on paper, but the shorter length of the stage meant that the climbs were not as tough as they appeared, while the circuit setup meant the team would be able to check out the final kilometres as the day progressed. Speeds would be much faster today and the flat finale and predicted bunch sprint would see the BORA-hansgrohe riders controlling the pace in the final 50km to draw in any break that had formed, before working to keep the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, safe in the closing kilometres in order to contest the sprint.
After today, there was only a time trial to go before the Tour de Suisse came to an end, and this meant only one thing – this was the last chance for riders to take a stage win. As expected, at the drop of the flag there was a flurry of activity to try and get in the breakaway, and while the break was nowhere near as big as on yesterday’s stage, a committed group of four made their move and quickly built up an advantage. With so much at stake today, the peloton didn’t allow the escapees even two minutes’ advantage, and as the riders reached the final lap, their lead was less than a minute. On the front, Juraj Sagan and the German national champion, Marcus Burghardt, kept the break in check, catching with a little under 10km remaining. It was here that Daniel Oss took over on the front as the sprint train for the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, formed behind as the stage came closer to its conclusion. Four men back as the sprinters kicked, the Slovak rider’s bike was squirming under the sheer power he was putting into the pedals, but just missing the win, Peter took fourth on the line, and the points put him back into the race’s black jersey.
01 A.Démare 2h42’07”
02 F.Gaviria +0:00
03 A.Kristoff +0:00
04 P.Sagan +0:00
05 J.Stuyven +0:00
From the Finish Line
"I think we did everything we could do today. Once again, my teammates were fantastic from start to finish and pulled hard all day to keep the race under control. In the sprint, I finished fourth and while, of course, a victory would have been nice, it was too difficult. Quite often, these sprints are much more complicated than how they look. I'm satisfied with my form right now and I'll keep working hard for the coming races." – Peter Sagan, UCI World Champion
"In this last road stage of the Tour de Suisse, the plan was to work for Peter. Our guys did an excellent job right from the start since we had to have a tight control over the race and make sure Peter was safely brought into a very good position for the expected bunch sprint. We controlled the break very well, we didn't allow them to build too much of an advantage and in the final kilometres, our lead-out was very good. I think Peter was strong and had the legs today but Démare had an advantage that was too difficult to close. Overall, I think we can be satisfied with the shape of our riders after eight stages in Switzerland and we can look forward to the Tour de France." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director