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Fresh off a win in Monday’s stage 3, Peter Sagan looked confident as he jumped early in the Tour de Suisse’s stage 4 sprint, but it was Michael Matthews who won the day.
On Tuesday, after three trips up the category 3 Husenstrasse climb in the finishing circuits around Schwarzenbach, Tinkoff-Saxo’s Sagan went early in the sprint. Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) was right on his wheel and made the winning move in the final 100 meters.
“It was always going to be difficult,” Matthews said in a team press statement. “The way [Sagan] sprinted yesterday was really strong.
“I knew I just had to glue myself to his wheel and then see what I had left to come over him.”
On a day that was meant for a small bunch sprint, five riders were on the attack early: Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Alex Howes (Cannodale-Garmin), Davide Malacarne (Astana), and Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory Racing).
With 10 kilometers to go, the early attackers were caught and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) was up the road with a 27-second lead.
The solo leader was caught inside of 7km to go. Marco Marcato (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) was quick to deliver a counterattack.
Sergio Henao (Sky) chased up to Marcato, bringing Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale) along to form a lead group of three. With four kilometers to go, the peloton had the leaders in sight, and Orica-GreenEdge drove the chase.
The attacking trio was caught just before the final two kilometers.
As the last kilometer unfolded, the sprint was very disorganized. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) found himself on the front much too early, and a crash midway through the pack also served to disrupt the final group.
Sagan went very early, charging up the left side on a slight rise.
However, Matthews was biding his time and made his jump at the perfect moment, coming off the Slovak’s wheel in the final 100 meters to win. Van Avermaet finished third.
After the 193.2km stage, Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) kept his overall lead, finishing 11th out of a select group of 23 that contested the sprint.
Though he missed out on victory, Sagan now sits only one second behind Dumoulin in the overall, thanks to a time bonus. Katusha’s Daniel Moreno is third, nine seconds behind.
But that’s all likely to change on Wednesday, when the race takes on its first summit finish at the end of a monster 237.3km day. The finish line is 8,757 feet above sea level, at the foot of the Rettenbach glacier. There will also be a second above-category climb, the Bielerhohe, halfway through the stage.