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Roche battles wind and rain to hold fifth in GC

Posted 11 June 2012

Nicolas Roche has held onto his fifth place overall at the Tour de Suisse after a wet and windy stage three which came down to a sprint finish won by Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale).

Sagan bagged his second stage win after throwing caution to the wind through the tight corners which characterised the final 500 metres of the 195 kilometre long stage from Martigny to Aarberg.
The versatile Slovak had a bike length to spare on Baden Cooke (Orica GreenEdge) and Ben Swift (Sky) while Rui Costa (Moviestar) retains the race lead.
Roche’s AG2R La Mondiale teammate Guillaume Bonnaford initiated the break of the day after just 3.7 kilometres of racing taking Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank) and Jonas Van Genechten (Lotto-Belisol) with him.
Bonnaford was the best placed of the trio on GC with a deficit of 9’30” and their lead peaked at 11 minutes at the 100 kilometre marker before the peloton got serious about hauling them back.
Their lead held steady at seven minutes before a train level crossing split the chasing peloton in two with 50 kilometres to go.
The decision of the race commissionaires to halt the first group until the level-crossing reopened helped the leaders to reopen an eight minute advantage.
That lead thumbled on the third category climb of the Frienisberg where Van Genechten lost contact as the gap to the leaders stood at 3’46” with 27 kilometres to go.
The combined efforts of the Sky and Liquigas-Cannondale teams over the next fourth category climb of Innerberg and the subsequent efforts of the Lampre-ISD and Garmin-Barracuda teams made further inroads into their lead leaving them a mere seven seconds up heading into the final kilometre.
A final surge by Cooke’s Orica GreenEdge team brought the race back together with just 500 metres to the finish where Sagan’s willingness to take risks was duly rewarded with the stage win.
Roche shed three seconds in the sprint for the line but his finish in 40th place has not affected his GC standing and he remains fifth overall just 21 seconds behind Costa.
The AG2R La Mondiale man faces a trickly stage four from Aarberg to Trimbach/Olten. The 189 kilometre route features the category one climb of Scheltenpass after 81.5 kilometres. 
The third category climb of Unter Hauenstein and the second category climb of Salhohe will liven up the closing 36 kilometres and should shake off the sprinters ahead of the 20 kilometre flat run into the finish.
Tour de Suisse
Stage 3: Martigny – Aarberg, 195 kilometres
1.  Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 4:35:32
2.  Baden Cooke (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
3.  Ben Swift (GBr) Sky Procycling
4.  Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Pro Team Astana 0:00:03
5.  Allan Davis (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
6.  Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ-Big Mat
7.  Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
8.  Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Barracuda
9.  Daniele Colli (Ita) Team Type 1 - Sanofi
10.  Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team
40. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 3 seconds
General classification after stage 3:
1.  Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team 11:06:57
2.  Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:08
3.  Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Pro Team Astana 0:00:15
4.  Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:00:19
5.  Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:21
6.  Thomas Löfkvist (Swe) Sky Pro-cycling
7.  Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:23
8.  John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:24
9.  Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:26
10. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Barracuda 0:00:29
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 21 seconds

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