Bissegger squeaks out maiden WorldTour win in Paris-Nice TT

Stefan Bissegger (EF Education–NIPPO), 22, confirmed the swelling wave of the next generation of star riders, ekeing out a victory in the Stage 3 Paris-Nice time trial over the 14.4-kilometre course.

Stefan Bissegger, EF Education-Nippo, Paris-Nice

Stefan Bissegger of EF Education-Nippo wins Stage 3 of Paris-Nice Source: Getty

It was a thrilling succession of riders supplanting each other at the top of the standings as the favourites for the medium-length race against the clock fought it out around the charming town of Gien, on the banks of the Loire River.

The 400-metre climb to the finish in Gien proved a dramatic setting for the finale of the time trial, a chance for riders to empty their last reserves, with a number exerting themselves to near collapse atop the hill. 

Bissegger was one of the favourites after his stomping performance behind world champion Filippo Ganna at the UAE Tour just a week ago, and was able to just better Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-QuickStep), coming in .83 of a second faster than the Frenchman.

"It feels really great to show what I’m capable of and to take the win here,” said Bissegger.  “It was really technical. You had to take risks at the right corners and be patient in other corners as well. I think I managed it well, so I’m super happy about that."

The 22-year-old from Thurgau in Switzerland, who is part of a new generation of riders bursting onto the stage of international cycling, rode at an average speed of more than 49 km/h to finish the stage in 17′34″ and edge out Deceuninck–Quick-Step's Frenchman Rémi Cavagna by mere hundredths of a second.

"Time trials definitely suit me and I’m very happy. It’s the second big stage race of my career,” said Bissegger.

Bissegger grew up around the green pastures of Switzerland and is now a stage winner on the WorldTour for the first time. He’s been racing bikes for nearly half of his life and did his first road race when he was 10 on a bike borrowed from his local bicycle store.

“The guy from the store told me I couldn’t start the race on the bike I had been riding around on as a child,” Bissegger explains. “He gave me a bike of his. That bike and that race started it all. And the funny thing is, the guy who gave me the bike, he’s now my trainer. I was 10-years-old. He’s been by my side for 10 years now."

Bissegger also wrested the leader's yellow jersey from Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange), who finished 23 seconds behind the winner after mounting a sterling defence of yellow.

Australian Rohan Dennis (INEOS Grenadiers) had been the early pace-setter, but saw his time bettered by five riders, eventually finishing 13 seconds behind the young Swiss star.

Meanwhile, the big favourite to win Paris–Nice overall, Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), had to settle for third, six seconds behind the leading duo and just ahead of American Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) and Søren Kragh Andersen (Team DSM), the victor in last year's time trial in Saint-Amand-Montrond.

Australian general classification hopes had solid days out in the saddle without wowing their rivals, all conceding significant time, at least 44 seconds, to Roglič. Lucas Hamilton (Team BikeExchange), Jai Hindley (Team DSM), Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) and Ben O'Connor (AG2R-Citroen) all finished within a minute of Roglič on the largely flat course and will now turn their attention to the climbing challenges ahead.

The SBS coverage of Paris-Nice continues tonight from 12.15 AEDT on SBS HD and SBS On Demand with a 188km stage in the medium mountains. Six categorised climbs add up to just over 3500 metres of climbing for the stage, with a summit finish into Chiroubles. 

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4 min read
Published 10 March 2021 at 8:45am
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS