On-form Slovakian Peter Sagan claimed his third win in four days at the Tour of Switzerland on Tuesday when he sprinted unhindered to victory in the rain-hit fourth stage.
The winner of the opening stage time-trial on Saturday, ahead of Swiss specialist Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack), Sagan claimed a narrow sprint victory over Australian Baden Cooke (Orica-GreenEdge) on Monday.
On Tuesday’s 188.8km ride from Aarberg to Trimbach/Olten there were plenty of late attacks and counter-attacks, in a bid to avoid a repeat of another win for the Slovakian.
The last attack, composed of Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Martin Elminger (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Sky), was swallowed up with 3km to go.
From then on it was a fight to get to the front for the bunch finish and when BMC’s Marcus Burghardt attacked off the front inside the last 300m, it was the signal for Sagan to make his move.
The big Slovakian cruised past his German rival and powered to the finish line where Spaniard Jose Joaquin Rojas, one of several riders condemned to fighting for the lower placings, finished second a full bike length behind.
Sagan, who is likely to be among the medal favorites for the Olympic road race in London, was quick to pay tribute to the team’s first-year professional, Moreno Moser.
“I don’t know how it would have gone without the super work done by Moreno,” Sagan said.
“He shut down every attack at the end of the race, letting me do the sprint I wanted: Big thanks to Moreno and I hope I can return the favor soon,” he added.
Sagan admitted the pace and the demanding weather conditions had left him doubtful over his chances of a win.
“At the start I didn’t know quite what to expect from today’s race. The weather and the pace of the race made for a tight stage that was difficult to manage,” he said.
“I tried to save as much energy as possible, hoping for a small bunch finish. The final sprint wasn’t easy to set up because there wasn’t a proper train. Holding onto to the first positions was crucial, and then I took my chance when Burghardt jumped and accelerated so no one could catch me,” he added.
Portugal’s Rui Costa, of Movistar, who took the lead after his stage victory on Sunday, finished with the overall victory favorites to retain his yellow jersey and 8-second lead on Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck (RadioShack).
Another victory contender, Czech Roman Kreuziger (Astana), is third at 15, while Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) remains in seventh place at 23.
Sagan, who won five stages at the Tour of California last month and has had a handful of top-five finishes in major one-day classics this season, now has five stage wins from the race in two years.