Tour Down Under: Sagan sprints to his first win of 2019

Peter Sagan sprints to victory in stage 3 of the Santos Tour Down Under.

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) took his first win of 2019 in stage 3 of the Santos Tour Down Under on Thursday. The 28-year-old Slovak sprinted to victory in Uraidla, Australia — the same town that hosted his first race win of 2018.

A handful of riders, including EF Education First’s Michael Woods and Sky’s Kenny Elissonde, tried attacking out of the peloton at the end of the 146.2-kilometer stage from Lobethal, but none of the moves stuck. A reduced but compact bunch rode into the final kilometer, where Mitchelton-Scott’s Daryl Impey was the first big name to launch his move.

Sagan surged past the South African with 200 meters to go. Astana’s Luis León Sánchez nearly matched Sagan’s speed in the finale but came up short, settling for second. Impey finished third on the day.

Sagan said after his win that his experience racing on the same roads last year came in handy in the finale.

“On the last climb, I said, ‘It’s going to be the same as last year again,'” Sagan said in a post-race interview. “In the end it was like copy paper.”

Sagan credited his teammates for putting him in position to contend for the win.

“My Bora-Hansgrohe team worked hard to keep me on the front and take care of me,” he said. “I had a lot of energy for the last lap and it was really under control.”

CCC’s Patrick Bevin retained his overall race lead with a fifth-place finish in the stage. Sagan is just one second behind in second place, while Sánchez is third at nine seconds behind Bevin.

Sagan also took over the sprint leader’s jersey and now leads Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and Bevin by two points.

Australia’s Jason Lea (UniSA-Australia) retained the king of the mountains jersey.

The Tour Down Under continues Friday with stage 4, which runs 129.2km from Unley to Campbelltown.

Material from AFP was used in this report.