After a time trial victory in Paris – Nice, Stefan Bissegger celebrated his second professional victory in Gstaad. The man from Thurgau prevailed in a three-man sprint. Mathieu Van der Poel remains overall leader.
Bissegger nearly missed the right move. The runner-up of the time-trial in Frauenfeld on day 1 had to bridge up solo when Benjamin Thomas (FRA), Joseph Rosskopf (USA) and Joel Suter (SUI) were up the road in what ended up being the decisive breakaway. Before this group got away the peloton raced for ninety minute at horrendous speeds.
“The composition of the front group was never favourable. It wasn’t until the four of us went up the road when the peloton sat up”, said Bissegger.
When the leaders reached the only categorized climb of the day, the Saanenmöser pass, their lead over the peloton was up to almost 7 minutes. Bissegger briefly became the virtual leader as he was the best-placed rider in GC among the leaders, in 80th position at 6:05 from Van der Poel. By the time they reached the runway in Saanen the yellow leader’s jersey was no longer an option. The peloton eventually arrived at 5:30 from the winner. “That I missed out on the overall lead doesn’t make me sad at all. More than anything, I’m happy with my stage victory which I did not expect at all when taking the start today”, said Bissegger.
During the climb to the Saanenmöser the man from Thurgau needed to respond to accelerations from Rosskopf and Thomas. The three men ended up battling it out in the sprint and Bissegger kept an eye on Benjamin Thomas who is, just like the Swiss rider from Eastern Switzerland, a track specialist. When Rosskopf launched the sprint, Bissegger was confident about the outcome: “I just had to keep them in check.”
Is it an option for Bissegger to withdraw from the race now with the eye on the Olympic Games in Tokyo? “No, absolutely not”, was the swift answer. “We’re here to support our team leader Rigoberto Uran and also Neilson Powless, who tops the young riders classification.”
When hitting the final 25 km of the stage, the Movistar and Cofidis teams showed the intention of closing the gap on the four leaders. However, lacking support from other teams they eventually took their feet off the gas. Mathieu van der Poel remains in the leader’s jersey with a bonus of one second over world champion Julian Alaphilippe.