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Tour de Suisse Women: World Champion Balsamo beats Muzic in photo finish on stage 3

Race officials awarded the Tour de Suisse Women stage 3 victory to World Champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) after a close sprint against French Champion Evita Muzic (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), who was forced to settle for second. After crashing inside the final three kilometres, Liane Lippert (Team DSM) recovered in time to capture third place on the uphill finish in Chur. 

"It was a very hard race with a lot of climbs and the last kilometre was so hard. I just tried to do my best, but in the end, I won and I am very happy," Balsamo said. "This win is very important because I'm here to find my best legs for the Giro and so I'm happy about this win."

Kristen Faulkner (BikeExchange-Jayco) maintained her lead in the overall classification as the race heads into the stage 4 finale on Tuesday, followed closely by Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo) at four seconds and Georgia Williams (BikeExchange-Jayco) at 14 seconds.

How it unfolded

The third day of racing at the Tour de Suisse was 124.2km from Vaduz to Chur. The route was relatively flat with the exception of two ascents, a category 1 Gais that peaked at 38km followed by a category 3 Luzisteig at 103km and then undulating terrain before an uphill to the finish in Chur.

Andy Schleck-CP NVST-Immo Losch and Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling did not start the stage due to a COIVD-19 test reducing the field to 86 riders.

Nicole Steigenga (Team Coop-Hitec Products) and Aline Seitz (Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad) formed an early breakaway ahea do the Gais, a 7km climb with an average of 6.5%. Although their gap stretched out to nearly two minutes, the pair were caught over the top of the Gais where Muzic took full points over the top.

A new breakaway emerged along the valley roads that included Léa Curinier (Team DSM), Stine Borgli (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), Amber Kraak (Team Jumbo-Visma), Quinty Ton (Liv Racing Xstra) and Sina Frei (Swiss).

The five riders pushed their gap out to just over a minute with 50km to go, but as they reached the St Luzisteig ascent, Frei set a fast pace. Curinier and Ton were distanced by the increasing speed on the climb as Frei, Kraak and Borgli raced over the top together.

The trio, drinking plenty of water and pouring it over their heads in the sweltering heat, worked together on the run-in toward the finish but the gap dropped to 30 seconds inside 10km. Frei desperately tried to keep the pace high enough to stay away as Team DSM chased behind closing the gap to 16 seconds with 5km to go.

It was all back together just ahead of the final climb, however, Cofidis' Rachel Neylan and Team DMS' Liane Lippert crashed through a roundabout with 2.9km to go. Lippert chased and managed to reconnect with the field with 1.7km, just as the climb started, working her way back to the front.

Jolanda Neff (Swiss) moved to the front along the lower slopes with 1km to the top, thinning the field out to about 20 riders. Meanwhile, Faulkner looked comfortable pedalling among the reduced group into the closing few hundred metres.

FDJ took the lead into the final metres of the climb with Lippert launching an attack but Balsamo stormed toward the line alongside Muzic for a photo finish sprint in Chur.

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.

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