Peter Sagan won his third stage of this year’s Tour as it made a detour into the spectacular Swiss city of Bern. The reigning world champion consolidated his lead in the points classification by edging out Alexander Kristoff to the line, after the day’s two-man breakaway of Tony Martin and Julian Alaphilippe (and a plucky late move from Rui Costa) had been reeled in. There was no change in the GC, with all the race favourites coming across the line safely ensconced in the lead group.
Rider of the RaceEmbed from Getty Images
Today’s stage, whether by design or accident, paid a fitting homage to the man Tony Martin succeeded as undisputed King of the Individual Time Trial. That’s because it finished in Bern, the spectacular hometown of the retiring Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo), who will bring a glorious career to a conclusion at the end of the season. Seemingly lacking optimal form and fitness, Spartacus was unable to mark this special stage with one of his characteristically monstrous breakaways; he could instead be found running errands at his team car early in the day, and cruising home in a solid sixth place at the end of it. He’s every bit as impressive a man as he is a cyclist, and he’ll leave a big hole in the pro peloton when he calls it quits.
Rare are days in the Tour de France when only two men get into the day’s breakaway; rarer still are days when both escapees are from the same team. However, today two Etixx-Quick Step riders had twitchy feet, and Tony Martin and Julian Alaphilippe were the only riders that comprised the day’s break. According to the team’s directeur sportif, Brian Holm, it was a spontaneous scheme rather than planned procedure: Martin has had a quiet Tour and presumably decided it’d be more fun chasing the outside odds of a stage win instead of sitting on the front of the peloton all day, while Alaphilippe – who finished fifth yesterday after a string of mechanical problems – was out to avenge cycling’s cruel fate.
In the end it didn’t work out – they came across the line together just in front of the broom wagon – but it was certainly a day of glorious failure, which has to be some improvement on failure without a qualifying adjective. Indeed, their joint exercise in futility even moved the impassive ASO bureaucrats, who broke with precedent to award a joint combativity prize – a nice touch indeed.
Poor Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). In an interview at the end of the stage, the day’s runner-up revealed that he’d misjudged the position of the finishing line, explaining why the standard sprinter’s finish line throw (that quite possibly won Sagan the stage) was visibly lacking on the replays:
Unfortunately, Kristoff wasn’t cognisant of his error until he was rudely yanked from a victor’s interview with his national broadcaster and informed of Sagan’s triumph. If there’s any consolation for the former Norwegian champion, it’s that he’s not the first sprinter to make such a mistake at this race: Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) pumped his fist after crossing the line on stage three, only for the photo finish to gift Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) the glory instead.
1 Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) 4:26:02
2 Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) same time
3 Sondre Holst Enger (IAM) s/t
4 John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) s/t
5 Michael Matthews (Orica-BikeExchange) s/t
GC top 5
1 Chris Froome (Sky) 72:40:38
2 Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) +1:47
3 Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) +2:45
4 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +2:59
5 Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) +3:17
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Chris Froome (Sky)
Points jersey: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)
KOM jersey: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff)
Best Young Rider: Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange)
For full stage review: Cycling News
Header image: Sagan edges out Kristoff ©GETTY/Fabrice Coffrini