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Tour de Suisse 2017: Stage 3


Welcome to live coverage of stage 3 of the Tour de Suisse from Menziken to Bern.

Tour de Suisse hub

Good afternoon. We're just over 10 minutes away from the start of stage 3 of the Tour de Suisse. Home rider Stefan Kung is in yellow with a slim one-second lead over Michael Matthews.

Tom Dumoulin is also high up there and could be ready to pounce when the race goes into the mountains.

Some mixed news for Steven Lammertink. The LottoNL Jumbo rider crashed heavily yesterday. While he avoided any broken bones, he has been forced to pull out of the race. 

Today is classified as a sprint stage by the organisers but it won't be a straightforward finish with a short, punchy climb to the line. We're likely to see a battle between Peter Sagan and Michael Matthews. 

The peloton has departed from Menziken to begin today's stage. 

I mentioned earlier, Peter Sagan and Michael Matthews as the two favourites for today's stage. Someone like Van Avermaet can provide some stiff competition if he decides to put himself into the mix at the finish. You can't count out Michael Albasini, who is always strong on home soil. Gilbert is obviously on some good form with his win yesterday, but Quick-Step Floors also has Zdenek Stybar and Matteo Trentin. John Degenkolb is also another one to watch in the finish. 

It was a very short neutral section and the racing is underway very quickly. Two riders have already jumped clear of the peloton and have 30 seconds. Elmar Reinders (Roompot) and Lasse Norman Hansen (Aqua Blue) are the two at the head of proceedings. 

It looks like that has been decided now with the gap to Hansen and Reinders going out to over two minutes. The chances of the break sticking today is slim and it looks like teams aren't too keen on burning too much energy trying to manage this. 

AG2R La Mondiale are prepared for what is to come today. 

Yesterday saw the dramatic finale to the Criterium du Dauphine. Alberto Contador was unusually quiet during the race. He eventually finished 11th overall, but he says that he's not too worried about his performance as he tries to save his legs for the Tour de France next month. Read his post-race comments here

After just 11km of racing, the gap to our two leaders is already up to 3:55.

This is the second stage in a row that Lasse Norman Hansen has been out in the break. He was out there yesterday and clocked up a good amount of mountains classification points. He is in the mountains jersey today and is surely looking to extend his lead ahead of the bigger mountains. This is how the classification looks right now. 

That lead just keeps on growing for our duo. They now have a massive 7:50 over the bunch as they tackle the first climb of the day. 

Unsurprisingly, Lasse Norman Hansen takes the full points at the top of the Engadin St. Moritz. He adds three points to his tally. 

Both riders in the breakaway are the same age, 25, but Hansen is definitely the more experienced of the two escapees. The Dane won gold at the Olympic Games on the track in London in the Omnium and has been racing on the road at professional level since 2014. He won bronze in the Omnium and the team pursuit at the Olympic Games last year too. 

Reinders on the other hand is riding at professional level for the first time this season after joining Roompot from Cycling Team Jo Piels over the winter. He's a Classics type rider and finished in the top 10 at this year's Dwars door Vlaanderen. 

The peloton is very relaxed about this breakaway and they've now given them 8:17 to play with as the riders complete the opening lap of 30km and pass through Menziken again. 

We're an hour into the day and the riders have completed 35.8km, which is well behind schedule at the moment. The riders will have to speed up or they'll be finishing close to 6pm local time. 

The peloton has perhaps been given the hurry up by the organisers and they've stepped on the gas. They've shut down the gap a little bit to 6:25, from close to nine minutes. 

Last week, Fabio Aru showed off his custom Argon 18 at the Criterium du Dauphine. The former Vuelta a Espana champion had a metallised red design. Take a look at Aru's custom bike here

Oh dear, one of the inflatable banners has come down. It doesn't seem like any of the riders have been caught up in it but it is holding up the race caravan so if anybody suffers a puncture they may have to wait a while for the team car. 

The second climb of the day, the Hauptstrasse, comes at the 73.7 so around 25km until the riders reach that point. 

BMC Racing is doing the pace management at the front of the bunch. After that slow start, they're holding this slightly quicker pace and have the two escapees at 6:22. This is a much more comfortable gap to manage than the nine minutes that the pair had earlier on. 

The Tour de Suisse is the final preparation for the Tour de France for many. The Tour is just under three weeks away and we have put together a beginner's guide to the race. You can take a look at it here

BMC Racing still doing the effort on the front. Stefan Kung is in the yellow jersey but he's only got a second over Michael Matthews and Tom Dumoulin. There are a number of fast men just behind him too so he's going to have a tough job holding onto his race lead. 

65km under their belts now as the riders pass through Menznau and that second categorised ascent is quickly approaching. The gap still 6:20 for the pair up front. 

While the pace is rising, the riders are still a bit behind schedule. At the moment they're 15 minutes behind the slowest predicted schedule. 

It's been a very calm day today with the team's firmly focused on a bunch sprint in Bern. There are a lot of riders that are interested in trying to get the win today, and with only two riders making it into today's break their chance of making it stick is very slim. 

Hansen takes the three points at the top of the second climb. That's six so far today, which makes his overall total 30 points. Nick Van der Lijcke, Hansen's closest rival in the competition, missed the breakaway but has mopped up the point for third place on the each of the two climbs. He's on 20 points now. 

Meanwhile the gap is edging down. The peloton has brought it back to 6:10 now with just uunder 80 kilometres remaining. 

It is lunch time in the peloton. Lots of rolling terrain still to come and one more categorised climb. All of the big names still in the main group for now. 

The latest edition of the Cyclingnews Podcast has landed. Why not listen to it as you follow us at the Tour de Suisse. In this edition, the team looks back over an exciting week of racing at the Tour de Suisse with interviews from Jakob Fuglsang, Richie Porte and Chris Froome. 

66km remaining from 159km

It's worth noting that today is the 200th anniversary of the first bike ride. The bike used looked a lot different to the what we recognise as a bike today. 

The peloton is stretching out under the pace being set right now. The gap has come down to 4:33 now, a vast change from the maximum gap of almost nine minutes. They're almost back on schedule now too, the slowest schedule that is. 

A crash for Miguel Angel Lopez. The defending champion appears to have ended up in a field.He looks unhurt but he has to remount his chain before he can carry on. A strange accident. 

56km remaining from 159km

Lopez having a laugh and a joke with Oscar Gatto. The Italian probably asking how his team leader ended up in the grass, which was so far from the side of the road. Lopez now back with the peloton. 

The chase has slowed down, maybe due to the crash of Lopez. The gap has stabalised at 4:31. Bora-Hansgrohe currently setting the pace.

51km remaining from 159km

Stefan Kung wins the sprint from the peloton at the intermediate sprint. He takes some bonus seconds for his efforts, which will come in handy in the defense of his leader's jersey. 

It was just the one bonus second for Kung, which means his lead in the general classification has doubled to two seconds. 

There are 10 bonus seconds for the winner of the stage, so Kung will have to sprint for himself as well as his teammate Greg Van Avermaet if he wants to keep hold of the leader's jersey. 

39km remaining from 159km

Peter Sagan has been keeping a low profile in the peloton. It's his brother Juraj that has been working on the front of the peloton. Sagan, Peter that is, is surely the big favourite for today's stage. 

Peter Sagan already has a record-breaking 13 wins at the Tour de Suisse over the years and another victory here would set him up nicely for his bid for a sixth green jersey at the Tour de France next month. 

30km remaining from 159km

Trek-Segafredo bringing out the big guns with the Austrian Mathias Brandle. He's doing some damage to the breakaway and he's got them back within 3:30. He's going to have to put in a big shift to shut this down before the finish. 

26km remaining from 159km

Bahrain-Merida put their faces into the wind now. Their man for today is Niccolo Bonifazio. The Italian had a little incident earlier in the week when he fell off his rollers during a sprint competition ahead of the race. Fortunately it was only his ego that was really hurt. 

Reinders has given up. He just can't hold onto Hansen so he sits up and waits for the peloton to catch him. Hansen now alone out front with 24km to go. 

Stefan Kung surges out of the peloton to take the final point and bonus second in the intermediate sprint. He has increased his lead in the general classification to a tenuous three seconds. 

19km remaining from 159km

Hansen's main aim will be to make it to the top of that final climb in first position. He's for four kilometres to go, so surely he can make it. 

Reinders is now sitting on the back of the peloton. He's done his work for the team today and he'll just be resting up until the finish, perhaps for another breakaway attempt later in the week. 

It's time triallist against time triallist as Brandle takes to the front again. Like last time, his efforts are doing some damage. He's brought Hansen back to just 1:35 now with 15 kilometres still remaining. 

Hansen is on the last climb of the day. He's out of the saddle and pushing to the top. Will he keep this break going once he hits the top or will he slow and wait for the catch?

14km remaining from 159km

Just 44 seconds left for Hansen but he's made it over the top of the climb to take the three points available. Behind, Quick-Step are showing themselves for the first time. 

That time gap has almost completely disappeared and it looks closer to about 10 seconds on the short descent. The peloton has Hansen in their sights. It seems he sat up rather than push on alone. 

Gruppo compatto with 13km to go. 

This is a very fast run off the climb and into town and Trek is doing their best to string it out. It's single file all the way down the bunch. 

BMC has swarmed on the front now. They've got a two-pronged approach to this finish. They want to keep Stefan Kung safe in yellow but help put Greg Van Avermaet into the right place for the stage win. 

10km remaining from 159km

Trek is pushing so hard that one of their riders almost goes off the road on a corner. It looks like Pantano. He's ok, fortunately. 

This is likely to be a slightly chaotic finish with so many teams interested in the win and so much traffic furniture. Let's hope everyone stays upright. 

Arthur Vichot up near the front and tryong to get onto the back of the BMC/Trek-Segafredo train. 

Katusha up ear the front too, perhaps trying to keep Spilak safe but also set up Haller. The Austrian normally works for Kristoff but has a decent turn of speed himself. 

6km remaining from 159km

5km remaining from 159km

There are a lot of 90 degree turns to manage, which is why BMC is stringing this out so much. 

3km remaining from 159km

Inside the last three kilometres and the GC teams move away. They're safe in terms of potential time loss. 

1km remaining from 159km

The riders are onto this final ascent and it's a steep cobbled ramp. 

Peter Sagan in third wheel on the back of the Trek-Segafredo train as the peloton hits the final kilometre. 

Pozzovivo winds this up. Is he going for this himself?

Pozzovivo peels off as the road flattens off. 

Matthews sprints first

Matthews wins

It looks like Sagan took second there with Degenkolb in third place. 

That was some good work by Sunweb. They delivered Matthews to the front when it mattered and he delivered. 

Sagan tried to come up the inside of Matthews but he didn't have the speed. He had a bit of a wheel wobble too. Unclear if that was due to touching wheels with someone or the power that he was trying to put through the bike during his sprint. 

Kung finishes safely inside the bunch but it should be Michael Matthews that is the new race leader. 

A good effort from Tim Wellens to get into fourth place in that sprint ahead of Michael Albasini, who took fifth. 

Confirmation that Matthews is the new race leader. He has a 10-second lead over his teammate Tom Dumoulin, while Peter Sagan moves up to third place at 11 seconds. 

The top 10 from today's stage

And confirmation how the GC looks following Matthews victory. 

With the Tour de France in mind, that victory will be a big boost for Michael Matthews. Sagan and Degenkolb don't have the top-end speed of the likes of Kittel, Greipel and Cavendish but they are some pretty big scalps for the Australian. 

Stefan Kung cleans himself off after that stage. It was a tough day out and, unseen by the cameras, he was dropped by the peloton so he has been dropped out of the top 10. 

Michael Matthews had this to say after his victory: "I struggled a little bit on the climb I wasn’t climbing so well today but it was good enough. I saw that I had a teammate there with Nikias Arndt and that gave me massive motivation because I knew he could do a really big pull and that made it perfect for me to do my sprint at the right time not like last year when I got boxed in during the Tour. It’s nice to get the win that I really wanted last year.

Three trips to the podium for Michael Matthews. As well as being the stage winner and new race leader, he's the new leader of the points competition after passing Dimension Data's Nic Dougall in the standings. 

Here is Matthews collecting his yellow leader's jersey. 

Today's race report, results and gallery are available here. A full version will be available soon. 

Tomorrow's stage brings the riders into the mountains and Michael Matthews is going to find it hard to keep hold of his race leader's jersey. His teammate Tom Dumoulin is in the prime position to take hold of the jersey but there will be riders like Ion Izagirre and Marc Soler trying to do so as well. 

This is what the profile for tomorrow's stage looks like. 

That is the end of our coverage for today's stage of the Tour de Suisse. Come back tomorrow for live coverage of stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse. 

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