Colbrelli takes morale-boosting win in Suisse with Tour de France on horizon

'I'm happy because it shows I'm on the right track' says Italian sprinter

Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) made up for a disappointing performance on stage 2 to win stage 3 of the Tour de Suisse. The Italian was out of contention in the first sprint stage following Saturday’s team time trial but produced a resounding sprint finish on Monday to hold off Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in Gansingen.

The 28-year-old made use of some excellent teamwork from his Bahrain-Merida squad before hitting out from nearly 300 metres to go. The Italian had the legs to hold off the late charge from his rivals to take his first WorldTour win of the campaign.

“Today I wanted to go again after yesterday wasn’t a good day. I didn’t have a great day, I didn’t have great legs and wasn’t up there with the best at the end for the sprint,” he said during his press conference.

“Today my legs were better and the weather suited me too; I go well in the rain. The team did great work for me in the finale and then I did a nice sprint by anticipating Peter and Gaviria, and I was just about able to win.”

Colbrelli had to do more than just sprint in order to seal his win. With a difficult finale and a climb inside the final kilometres, he was forced on the defensive when Sagan attacked near the summit of the final ascent. Once again Colbrelli’s teammates ensured that the Italian remained in contention.

“Sagan went very hard on the climb, but I was able to stay in the first 10 positions with my teammates Gasparotto and Ion Izagirre. We manged to stay up front all the time with Peter, who was really forcing the pace,” the stage winner added.

“Vichot went in the last kilometre, so I put Gasparotto, Padun and Gorka Izagirre to work on the front for me. I went with 300 metres to go and that was the right decision.”

With the Tour de France less than a month away, and having gone without an individual win since February, Colbrelli can take heart from his performance on stage 3. Gaviria and Sagan are likely to be two of his closest rivals in the sprints at the Tour de France, and if he can beat them in June then chances are he can push them all the way in a few weeks.

“For me, this win is very important. It gives me morale ahead of my next big appointment, the Tour de France. Beating sprinters like Sagan and Gaviria gives me morale, and I’m happy because it shows I’m on the right track,” he said.

“It wasn’t easy for me because I hadn’t won since Dubai. I had a lot of placings, including a couple of second-place finishes in Romandie. I wasn’t in top conition at the classics. I was blocked by bronchitis before and after San Remo, which compromised the Classics for me. I went to Flanders but I wasn’t myself.

"But I never gave up, and today all those efforts have paid off. To beat riders like Gaviria and Sagan, riders who are aiming for stage wins at the Tour, that gives me a lot of morale. I’m not a rider who wins a lot, but when I win, I look to win the right races.”

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