World champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) took out his 13th career stage win in the Tour de Suisse on stage 3, and in doing so took over the race lead from Lotto Soudal's Jurgen Roelandts. But even though he enjoyed the success on the day, he was once again discouraged by the peloton's lack of cooperation in controlling the breakaway.
"It was tough when we were working so hard," Sagan said in a team press release. "Cycling has changed – it doesn't respect the group as much. We were out on front, working with Lotto, but all the riders weren't working. I was asking where the respect was. We were going to kill ourselves riding so hard with 50km to go. I thought it would be easier for everyone if we worked, but I'm angry that my team was working hard on the front, but no-one seemed to respect that."
Once the breakaway passed the fourth of five successive category 3 climbs, the Maispracherstrasse, the breakaway was within half a minute of the chase, but Sagan had burned up all of his teammates, and got no help controlling the attacks. When Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) jumped away and bridged up to the last remaining breakaway rider, BMC's Silvan Dillier, Sagan knew he had to take matters into his own hands.
He attacked on the final climb and bridged the 30 second gap to the leaders over the top. They then faced just over 10km to go with the fractured peloton in full flight, but finally Sagan had found a couple of riders who would work with him.
"The race was very hard. I caught the escape on the descent, on the flat, and it was pretty hard to keep up," Sagan said. "When it's raining it's much easier to be alone out the front – to make the break stick – and the decisions I made were based on me feeling good. On the front the guys did some work with me and it was ok in the lead up to the finish."
Sagan kept the pace high, even distancing his companions for a time, but then took the sprint over Albasini with the bunch just three seconds behind. "It was a good sprint – at 300m out I stayed on his wheel and then passed him on the line. The riders in the breakaway wanted to work with me today – it's not always easy to get them to work with me but we all wanted the win. It was just lucky I still had the legs to go for the sprint in the last 100 metres."
Thanks to a 10 second time bonus, and the three second gap to Roelandts, Sagan now holds the overall lead over the Belgian by those same three seconds, with Dillier in third, tied on time.
"It wasn't in my mind that I could take the yellow," Sagan said. "It was wet and hard, and from the last climb it was all descent and I thought if I went in the break it could be ok for the sprint – maybe I could recover and then go for the sprint, but I wasn't expecting to take the yellow jersey. I think I prefer the Rainbow Jersey, but its good to be in the yellow jersey and leading the race. I'll do my best to hold it tomorrow, maybe for two days, but I won't be holding it until the end."
Stage 4 is a largely flat 193km stage from Rheinfelden to Champagne, the last day for the sprinters before the race heads into the high mountains.