Peter Sagan of Liquigas Cannondale pipped Damiano Cunego of Lampre ISD in Grindelwald to take Stage 3 of the Tour de Suisse, but the day belonged to the Italian who put in a thrilling ride to catch and pass the riders ahead of him on the final climb then put in a fearless descent before being passed in the closing 200 metres. Behind, Jakob Fuglsang of Leopard Trek just pipped Laurens Ten Dam of Raboank for third.
At only 107.6 kilometres, today’s stage was short but it certainly packed a punch, including 3,035 metres climbing with the Category 1 ascent of the Grimselpass followed by the Hors-Categorie Grosse Scheidegg, crested 11 kilometres from the finish at Grindelwald.
Omega Pharma-Lotto’s Jan Bakelandts was out on his own at the front ahead of that final climb with around half a minute’s advantage on a 15-strong chasing bunch that included Leopard Trek’s Andy Schleck.
Bakelandts fell back on the ascent of the Grosse Scheidegg and the group that had been pursuing him was smashed apart on that climb as Cunego, who hadn’t been in that escape and at one point was 2 minutes down on them, launched himself off the front of the main group.
The 29-year-old Italian put in a storming ride not only to each the riders ahead of him but then pick them off one by one to go over the climb first ahead of Ten Dam.
Intermittent rain had left puddles on the road towards the finish, with a poor road surface in places meaning that the less confident descenders took things very carefully on the way down.
Cunego, however, was not one to hold back, sensing not only the stage win but also the chance to take the race leader’s jersey from Movistar’s Mauricio Soler, having started the day second overall, just 12 seconds behind the Colombian.
At one point, it looked as though the Lampre-ISD man may have overcooked things as he almost went off the road but he recovered well and the incident didn’t seem to affect him as he continued to swoop through the series of hairpin bends, the only thing looking likely to hold him up being the race organisers' vehicles ahead which quite simply couldn't match his pace.
The other man to throw caution to the wind on the descent was of course Sagan, the 21-year-old Slovak catching Cunego with a little over 2 kilometres to go and sitting on his back wheel before nipping out past him a couple of hundred metres from the line to take the win, although the Italian of course has the consolation of taking over the race lead.
Tour de Suisse Stage 3 Result 1 Peter SAGAN Liquigas-Cannondale 3:09:47 2 Damiano CUNEGO Lampre-ISD Same time 3 Jakob FUGLSANG Leopard-Trek + 00:21 4 Laurens TEN DAM Rabobank 5 Giampaolo CARUSO Katusha + 00:48 6 Tejay VAN GARDEREN HTC-Highroad + 01:04 7 Frank SCHLECK Leopard-Trek 8 Bauke MOLLEMA Rabobank 9 Juan Mauricio SOLER Movistar Team 10 Francis DE GREEF Omega Pharma-Lotto 11 Steven KRUIJSWIJK Rabobank 12 Danilo DI LUCA Katusha Team + 01:24 13 Tom DANIELSON Garmin-Cervelo + 01:26 14 Linus GERDEMANN Leopard-Trek + 01:28 15 Jan BAKELANTS Omega Pharma-Lotto + 01:42 16 Levi LEIPHEIMER RadioShack 17 Mathias FRANK BMC Racing + 02:02 18 Maxime MONFORT Leopard-Trek 19 Johann TSCHOPP BMC Racing 20 Branislau SAMOILAU Movistar + 02:49 Tour de Suisse Overall Standings after Stage 3 1 Damiano CUNEGO Lampre-ISD 7:43:16 2 Juan Mauricio SOLER Movistar Team + 00:54 3 Bauke MOLLEMA Rabobank + 01:16 4 Laurens TEN DAM Rabobank + 01:19 5 Tejay VAN GARDEREN HTC-Highroad + 01:21 6 Frank SCHLECK Leopard-Trek + 01:25 7 Jakob FUGLSANG Leopard-Trek + 01:32 8 Danilo DI LUCA Katusha + 01:53 9 Steven KRUIJSWIJK Rabobank + 02:00 10 Levi LEIPHEIMER RadioShack + 02:10
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.