Stage 3: BinckBank Tour

Peter Sagan wins his 99th pro race of his career on stage 3 of the BinckBank Tour, Stefan Küng continues to lead overall

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Stage 3: BinckBank Tour

Edging closer and closer to his 100th professional victory, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan took his 99th win today on stage 3 of the BinckBank Tour. The final kilometres were especially challenging due to wet conditions that split the peloton with a crash before the Flamme Rouge.

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The victory sees Peter move up to 3rd in the GC race, and will wear the blue jersey of Points leader on tomorrow’s stage.

The race crossed the border from the Netherlands into Belgium, and with it came the promise of Flandrian cobblestones and the infamous Belgian weather. The 185km route was fairly flat, with a couple of short climbs, but nothing that would trouble the determined peloton.

After a short day’s time trialling yesterday in difficult weather conditions, the sprinters would be eager to get back on the road and challenge for the win on a flat finale. The twisting finale would bring with it its own challenges, but with poor weather predicted at the finish, getting to the line in one piece would be a challenge all of its own.

Starting the day back in the rainbow stripes of UCI World Champion, there was no pressure on the BORA-hansgrohe riders to protect the race lead for Peter Sagan. For this reason, the team would be able to take the day relatively easy, with no compulsion to chase down the break – leaving the hard work to the race leader’s BMC team.

The group of five escapees made the most of the flat start, managing to quickly build an advantage of three minutes. While the peloton was pushed along by a tailwind, reducing the gap to less than a minute, with the bulk of the stage still to go, there was no hurry to make the catch just yet, and the bunch backed off, allowing the break to extend their lead a little, and the addition of some cobblestones to the route allowed the break to add even more time as the larger group worked to make sure they came through safely.

With just 50km remaining, the pace increased, with the familiar jersey of German National Champion, Marcus Burghardt, riding hard on the front for the BORA-hansgrohe team, keeping the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, safe to contest the finish. Hitting the finishing circuit, which would be raced twice, the gap was decreasing rapidly, and while the peloton nervously tackled the street circuit, decreasing its speed to do so, the advantage had all but gone.

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With 6km remaining, the catch was made – just as the twists and turns of the finish really got technical, the damp roads making the going treacherous. A late crash followed by a late attack strung out the peloton, but Peter had everything under control – even before he crossed the line, teammate Rudi Selig was celebrating Peter’s 99th professional victory, with both hands in the air 100m before he had taken the win.

Having won in Ardooie in the race last year, Peter knew the finale, but also knew it was going to be hard in Belgium. “It wasn’t easy today. It was a reminder that we’re racing in Belgium because today was like riding a Spring Classic. It was crazy – all day on the front, the team trains were up there trying to pass each other and control the pace. In the end, it started to rain, and it was very dangerous, with a crash in the finale.

I’m very happy because BORA-hansgrohe worked very well together and took another victory, which was amazing for us – I’m very happy. We’ll see whether I can take my 100th victory soon – first we have to survive until tomorrow. It’s good to be back near the top of the GC as well. If I take the GC again, it will be on a day where there are a lot of groups and gaps on the road – it’s all about taking the seconds. For that reason, we will have to take it day by day.”
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Stefan Küng (BMC Race leader): “It was a pretty stressful and nervous day. There was a little bit of wind but not that much. Everyone was nervous and you could also tell that everyone was in good shape because they started panicking early.”

“I need to say a big thanks to my team. They did a really good job today. First pulling at the front and then protecting me and keeping me out of trouble when it was a little chaotic and overall today went quite well for us. Jempy Drucker tried something and Loïc Vliegen was up there in the sprint so it was a good day for the team and I am happy to still be in the leader’s jersey.”

“It is nice to keep the jersey, and we will try to continue to hold on to it but Peter Sagan (Bora – hansgrohe) looked in strong form, and now he is within five seconds of the overall lead. You never know what will happen so we will keep fighting and I will enjoy another day in the jersey tomorrow.”

Stage 3
1. Peter Sagan BORA – hansgrohe
2. Edward Theuns Trek – Segafredo
3. Rudy Barbier AG2R La Mondiale
4. Dylan Groenewegen Team LottoNL-Jumbo
5. Loïc Vliegen BMC Racing Team
6. Magnus Cort Nielsen ORICA-Scott
7. Jonas Rickaert Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise
8. Simone Consonni UAE Team Emirates
9. Bert Van Lerberghe Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise
10. Phil Bauhaus Team Sunweb

43. Ben Swift UAE Team Emirates
84. Mark Mcnally Wanty – Groupe Gobert
85. Alex Dowsett Movistar Team
87. Owain Doull Team Sky
95. Ryan Mullen Cannondale-Drapac
128. Ian Stannard Team Sky
174. Jonathan Dibben Team Sky 5:04

GC
1. Stefan Küng BMC Racing Team88:15:08
2. Maciej Bodnar BORA – hansgrohe 0:04
3. Tom Dumoulin Team Sunweb 0:05
4. Peter Sagan BORA – hansgrohe
5. Søren Kragh Andersen Team Sunweb 0:08

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