Having taken a record fifteen stage wins and a stage victory in every edition of the race for the past seven years, the only real question for this year’s Tour de Suisse was when the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, was going to take his sixteenth win. On the first road stage on the second day of the race, Peter answered this question with a stunning win from a long bunch sprint, delivered to the Flamme Rouge by his BORA-hansgrohe teammates and reacting expertly to his sprint rivals’ moves, the Slovak rider took an unprecedented sixteenth stage victory, cementing his name into the history books of the race.
Starting and finishing in Frauenfeld for the second day, the first road stage of the 2018 Tour de Suisse would again make its way around the northern Swiss canton of Thurgau over a 39km circuit ridden four times, making for a total distance of 155km. On the undulating profile, the key feature of the day was the third category Herdern climb which, while nowhere near as hard as the climbs still to come in the race, would steadily have an impact on the riders’ legs as the day went on. However, in spite of the hilly terrain, the all-important final kilometre was flat, meaning that as long as they stayed in contention over the climbs of the final circuit, the faster riders would have a chance to go for the win – albeit perhaps without some of the pure sprinters in tow.
The Team Tactics
The stage’s third category climb would be ascended four times over the course of the day, with an undulating parcours coming with it. In spite of this, the flat finish in Frauenfeld was earmarked for a sprint, and so the team would be riding for the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, today. The aim, therefore, was to bring Peter over the day’s climbs fresh and to ride hard on the front to ensure the Slovak rider was in the perfect position to go for the win.
The second the flag dropped to mark the end of the neutralised zone at the start, an attempt to break away came. It was a beautiful day in northern Switzerland, and the good weather conditions would have had a strong influence on the three-man break’s exuberance, quickly building up a lead of three minutes. This was about as much as the peloton was going to allow though, and for the rest of the day the time gap was never much more than two minutes, in spite of an attack from the bunch adding one more to their number. Shortly after crossing the finish line for the penultimate time, the peloton was close, with it all back together shortly after at 17km remaining. Now the speeds really started to rise, and while BORA-hansgrohe were the driving force in upping the pace, with German National Champion, Marcus Burghardt, together with Daniel Oss, taking charge at the head of the peloton, attempts to break away still came, but alert as always, Patrick Konrad made the jump to keep the team in contention. While this attack didn’t last, it showed how organised the BORA-hansgrohe riders were in the closing kilometres as the teams tried to find the best position for the sprint, riding hard to keep the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, in contention. Reacting instinctively to Gaviria’s kick with 250m to go, the Slovak rider was in the perfect position to react for the long, hard sprint to the line, and with the chance to take an unprecedented sixteenth stage victory, Peter grabbed it with both hands, and with 100m remaining, there was no doubt who was going to take the win.
01 P.Sagan 3h50’09”
02 F.Gaviria +0:00
03 N.Haas +0:00
04 M.Matthews +0:00
05 M.Padun +0:00
From the Finish Line
“I’m very happy about this, and have to thank all my BORA-hansgrohe teammates for their support today. They trust me enough to work so hard through the day and it means I can go for the win. I was thinking about the team’s tactics and in the end it worked out exactly as we’d planned. I’m very happy to have won the stage. All my preparation has been good and I’m feeling a bit more relaxed about the rest of the race now. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into these wins behind the scenes. My legs aren’t at their best yet and I still have some work to do before the Tour de France, but I’m looking forward to the rest of the race.” – Peter Sagan, UCI World Champion
“It is indeed a very good day for BORA-hansgrohe today. Peter just celebrated his 16th stage win here in the Tour de Suisse, Sam Bennett won in Cologne and Emanuel Buchmann finished fourth in the last stage of the Dauphiné. So, we are very happy. The squad here in Switzerland worked very hard all day and they all did a fantastic job. They positioned Peter in a perfect spot for the finale and he finished off the day’s effort with a strong sprint and a stage victory.” – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director