Peter Sagan (Cannondale) won stage three of the Tour de Suisse on Monday, with Matthias Frank (BMC Racing) moving into the overall race lead.
Defending champion Rui Costa (Movistar) came home in second on the stage, with Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) in third.
Race leader Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge) was distanced on the day’s final climb to relinquish the lead to Frank. Frank now leads Kreuziger by 23 seconds overall, with Costa at 35 seconds.
The four-man move of Sagan, Frank, Kreuziger and Costa had split away from the lead group on the descent from the day’s last categorised climb with around 18 kilometres remaining after an earlier 18-rider break was mopped up on the ascent.
The quartet pressed ahead, quickly distancing the rest of the remains of the bunch that included Frank’s team-mate Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Bauke Mollema (Blanco), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Simon Spilak (Katusha), Tanel Kangert (Astana) and Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp).
Mollema then attacked the chasers to try and bridge up to the four leaders in the final 10km. Sagan then upped the pace on the steep, wet descent to Meiringen, crouching low over his bars. He and Costa put a slight gap over Kreuziger and Frank into the finish. By far the stronger sprinter, Sagan eased around Costa to take the victory.
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) continued a run of bad luck that saw him withdraw from last month’s Giro d’Italia with illness. He started the day in second place overall, but crashed during the stage and was taken to hospital for examination. It spells another set-back to the Canadian’s Tour de France preparations.
Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) was another rider to crash during the stage and lost six minutes and 45 seconds on Sagan by the finish.
The 32-year-old from Victoria was taken to hospital after crashing 150 kilometres into the 205-kilometre stage from Montreux to Meringen.
“Hesjedal suffered multiple, severe contusions and abrasions to the right wrist, hip and knee and left shoulder, elbow and knee,” his team, Garmin Sharp, said in a statement.
“Preliminary CTs show no fractures and no neurological pathologies. He will remain under close observation by team medical staff. Hesjedal’s health is the team’s priority — depending on how his recovery progresses, team medical staff as of now hopes he may be able to train in a few days time, although this will depend on his recovery.”
The Tour de France begins June 29.
Hesjedal had been doing well in his comeback race after failing to defend his Giro d’Italia title last month when he was forced to withdraw due to an upper respiratory infection. The Canadian was in second place overall after Stage 2.
Peter Sagan of Slovakia led a four-man breakaway to win Monday’s stage.
Sagan edged defending champion Rui Costa of Portugal and Roman Kreuziger of the Czech Republic to complete the stage in four hours 46 minutes 27 seconds. Local rider Mathias Frank had the same time in fourth.
Frank, riding for the Swiss-backed American team BMC Racing, climbed from third overall to lead Kreuziger by 23 seconds. Costa is third, trailing Frank by 35 seconds.
The race lasts nine days.
The fourth stage Tuesday is a rolling 174.4-kilometre route fromInnertkirchen to Buochs.
It’s been a tough year for last year’s big winners on the world cycling stage.
Wiggins was also forced to pull out of the Giro with a chest infection.
Garmin Sharp announced Friday that Hesjedal has re-signed with the team through 2015.