Sacha Modolo stayed clear of a pileup in the sprint to the finish line to win stage five of the Tour de Suisse on Wednesday, with Germany’s Tony Martin once more retaining the overall lead.
Lampre-Merida rider Modolo fended off the challenge of stage three winner Peter Sagan and John Degenkolb down the stretch, while Mark Cavendish, who won Tuesday’s fourth stage, saw his hopes dashed after crashing 300m from the finish.
“I knew that today’s finale was to my liking, and I really wanted to compete for the win with Peter Sagan,” said Modolo, who burst clear of the Slovak in the final corner of the 184km ride from Ossingen to Buren an der Aare.
“It’s all the more satisfying for both me and the team that I have managed to win this stage. It’s the biggest victory of my career,” added the Italian, who has raced sparingly since a fall during April’s Paris-Roubaix.
Martin, who has worn the leader’s yellow jersey since winning the opening time trial, crossed with the peloton to maintain his six second lead over Dutchman Tom Dumoulin.
A three-man breakaway consisting of Frederik Veuchelen, Jaroslaw Marycz and Sander Armee led for much of the day before the trio was reeled in by the pack with just over 10km remaining.
That prompted several teams to jostle for position as they attempted to set up their sprinters for the bunch finish and there was late drama as Cavendish was taken down by Matt Goss on the first of two hairpin bends near the finish after the Australian had, in turn, been clipped by Danny van Poppel.
Cavendish eventually got back on his bike and pedalled over the line, but he appeared none too pleased with events, tweeting: “Taken down in a crash with 300m to go today. Ironically, I’d eased up as I wasn’t willing to risk crashing. #sorehead.”
Prior to Wednesday’s stage, Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France champion, withdrew from the race following his crash a day earlier that left him with grazes and swelling to his right leg.
Wiggins had also been suffering from a mild chest infection and his disappointing display in Switzerland could well end his chances of riding in next month’s Tour de France.
Team Sky are set to announce their nine-man line-up for the Tour, which starts on July 5 in Leeds, England, and runs until July 27, following the conclusion of this race.