Peter Sagan on top of Tour of Slovakia GC after powerful third-place sprint on stage 3
Stage 3 of the Tour of Slovakia not only brought the longest parcours of the race at 193.2km, but also no fewer than five second category climbs to contend with, making it the hardest day. While the finale was flat, who would be in a position to contest the stage win would depend on who had the legs to make it through a hard day of relentless ascending and descending. There were multiple attempts to get into the day’s break, with the peloton quick to shut down the moves that might affect the overall standings, but this didn’t stop Daniel Oss and Patrick Gamper flying the flag for BORA-hansgrohe and trying to get into the escape. It wasn’t until almost 50km of racing that a break managed to stay out, building a lead that never exceeded three minutes and started to fall around the same time that rain began falling on the roads. As the race hit its last 20km, the now solo rider on the front was caught and the peloton was still all together, suggesting a bunch sprint was likely, with Peter Sagan testing his legs in the final intermediate sprint to take two seconds for the overall contest ahead of the finale. The peloton’s pace kept things together in the run to the finish line in Považská Bystrica as the pace dropped dramatically with wet and greasy roads threatening to destroy a rider’s race in an instant. Taking the final corner carefully, Peter fought for space, with a gap finally opening up and allowing him to make a charge for the line. The Slovak national champion’s third-place finish and the time bonuses picked up as a result saw him catapulted into the yellow jersey of race leader going into the final stage tomorrow while also claiming the green jersey of points leader.
01 K.Halvorsen 4h28’47”
02 K.Groves + 0:00
03 P.Sagan + 0:00
From the Finish Line
"I'm very happy with today's result. Not only is this my home race, but the finish was also very close to my home city and a lot of fans came, so it was an important stage for me. I now hold the yellow and green jerseys but we still have another stage tomorrow and as you see, the GC podium is a question of just a few seconds. It will be a very interesting day where staying focused and controlling from the start of the stage will be pivotal. The race is still open and we have to be careful." –Peter Sagan
"We did our best to make the race hard from the start and put pressure on the other teams. Finally, a group of five riders managed to go free, and with four of them close in the GC, Deceuninck-Quickstep controlled while we stayed focused on our goal. Road conditions were bad halfway through the stage but we stayed safe. The break was brought back quite early, before the final intermediate sprint and that gave Peter the opportunity to grab two bonus seconds. He was brought well for the final sprint and took third on the line, grabbing four more bonus seconds. That gave him the yellow jersey, so we're satisfied with the day. With such a tight podium, tomorrow, the last day of the race, will certainly be a full-on battle from the first to the last metre." – Jan Valach, Sports Director