Trimbach/Olten - On-form Slovakian Peter Sagan claimed his third win in four days at the Tour of Switzerland on Tuesday when he sprinted unhindered to victory in the rain-hit fourth stage.
The winner of the opening stage time-trial on Sunday ahead of Swiss specialist Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack), Sagan claimed a narrow sprint victory over Australian Baden Cooke (Orica-GreenEdge) on Monday.
On Tuesday's 188.8 km ride from Aarberg to Trimbach/Olten there were plenty of late attacks and counter-attacks in a bid to avoid a repeat of another win for the Slovakian.
The last attack, composed of Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Martin Elminger (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Sky), was swallowed up with three kilometres to go.
From then on it was a fight to get to the front for the imminent bunch finish, and when BMC's Marcus Burghardt attacked off the front inside the last 300 metres it was the signal for Sagan to make his move.
The big Slovakian cruised past his German rival and powered to the finish line where Spaniard Jose Joaquin Rojas, one of several riders condemned to fighting for the lower placings, finished second a full bike length behind.
Portugal's Rui Costa, of Movistar, finished with all the overall victory favourites to retain his yellow jersey and 8-sec lead on Luxembourg's Frank Schleck (RadioShack).
Another victory contender, Czech Roman Kreuziger (Astana), is third at 15 while Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) remains in seventh place at 23.
Sagan, who won five stages at the Tour of California last month and has had a handful of top five finishes in major one-day classics this season, now has five stage wins from the race in two years.
Standings from the fourth stage of the Tour of Switzerland, a 188.8km ride from Aarberg to Trimbach/Olten on Tuesday:
1. Peter Sagan (SVK/LIQ) 4hr 36min 55sec, 2. Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP/MOV) same time, 3. Michael Albasini (SWI/GEC) s.t., 4. Heinrich Haussler (AUS/GRM) s.t., 5. Francesco Gavazzi (ITA/AST) s.t., 6. Vladimir Gusev (RUS/KAT) s.t., 7. Matteo Montaguti (ITA/ALM) s.t., 8. Wout Poels (NED/VAC) s.t., 9. Oscar Freire (ESP/KAT) s.t., 10. Mathias Frank (SUI/BMC) s.t.
Selected: 69. Cameron Meyer (AUS/GEC) 4:53, 75. Thomas Dekker (NED/GRM) s.t., 78. Matthew Hayman (AUS/SKY) 7:37, 87. Baden Cooke (AUS/GEC) 10:43, 89. Allan Davis (AUS/GEC) s.t., 91. Stuart O'Grady (AUS/GEC) s.t. 96. Alessandro Petacchi (ITA/LAM) s.t., 97. Fabian Cancellara (SWI/RSH) s.t., 128. Tyler Farrar (USA/GRM) 15:40, 142. Tom Boonen (BEL/OPQ) s.t., 143. Gert Steegmans (BEL/OPQ) s.t.
DNF: Aidis Kruopis (LTU/GEC), Adam Blythe (GBR/BMC), Serguey Lagutin (UZB/VAC), Gaetan Bille (BEL/LTB), Sander Cordeel (BEL/LTB), Jonas Van Genechten (BEL/LTB)
1. Rui Costa (POR/MOV) 15hr 43min 52sec, 2. Frank Schleck (LUX/RSH) at 8sec, 3. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/AST) 15, 4. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 19, 5. Nicolas Roche (IRL/ALM) 21, 6. Thomas Lovkvist (SWE/SKY) s.t., 7. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 23, 8. John Gadret (FRA/ALM) 24, 9. Mikel Nieve (ESP/EUS) 26, 10. Tom Danielson (USA/GRM) 29
Selected: 12. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN/RSH) 33, 13. Levi Leipheimer (USA/OPQ) 37, 17. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 57, 20. Robert Gesink (NED/RAB) 1:09