With the final corner coming just over 100 metres from the finish line in Champagne, received wisdom said that the first man through that point would claim the honours on stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse.
Etixx-QuickStep left nothing to chance. Max Richeze led his teammate Fernando Gaviria into that sharp right-hand bend, and that was where they stayed all the way to the line, claiming a fine one-two for the Belgian squad, with world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) claiming third to retain the overall lead.
Richeze joined Etixx-QuickStep this season to serve as a lead-out man and mentor to Gaviria, and the South American pairing formed a seamless partnership here. Having already advised Richeze to try his own luck on the previous two days, Gaviria made no effort to come around his teammate once the win was assured here, and Richeze became the first Argentinian to win a stage at the Tour de Suisse.
Sagan – in the yellow jersey of race leader rather than his usual rainbow bands – was third into the last corner and though he ate up much of his deficit in the final metres, he left himself with too much to do and had to settle for third. His hopes of a third successive victory dashed, Sagan can console himself with another day in the overall lead.
On watching the television images afterwards, Sagan might consider himself fortunate, too, that he wasn’t brought down by Sky’s Danny van Poppel, who almost clipped the world champion when he attempted to move ahead of him on the final bend. Van Poppel was forced to sit up but mercifully avoided coming a cropper.
The incident ultimately had no impact on the top three positions on the stage, but it did allow for a two-second gap to open up to fourth place finisher Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo), who came home ahead of Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo).
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