Cantal, Sept. 10: Marc Hirschi secured his first grand tour stage victory after producing a brilliant break on the 12th day of racing in the Tour de France, as Primoz Roglic stayed in the yellow jersey.
Team Sunweb rider Hirschi, a 22-year-old Swiss who won the under-23 road race world title in 2018, showed he belongs at the highest level now with a commanding performance.
He tore clear inside the final 30 kilometres on the ride from Chauvigny to Sarran Correze and was never directly challenged from that point.
It was a performance that hinted at possible greater successes further on in his career, with Hirschi following a second-place finish on stage two and third spot on stage nine by crossing the stage 12 finish line a comprehensive winner.
Danish rider Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and Spaniard Imanol Erviti (Movistar) were passed with 42.5 kilometres left to race, marking the end of the race's initial breakaway.
Tiesj Benoot and Sunweb's Soren Kragh Andersen led that burst to the front, joined by Movistar's Marc Soler, who soon attacked to go it alone. Despite dropping back into a group of six, Soler mounted another charge to pull clear for a second time, but it would not be his day.
Instead, Hirschi made his move on the category two Suc au May climb, and soon stretched 30 seconds clear of Soler and Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe).
The pace of Hirschi's descent was as remarkable as his power uphill, and he retained the half-minute gap with 15 kilometres remaining before widening his lead on the road to the finish line.
France's Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) made an effort to narrow the gap to Soler and Schachmann, in the vain hope of then mounting a challenge to Hirschi.
In the end it was Pierre Rolland who crossed the line second, with Kragh Andersen third. Roglic was in a bunch two minutes and 30 seconds off the pace, his standing as general classification leader unaffected.
TOP STEP DELIGHT FOR HIRSCHI
Hirschi was relieved to secure top spot on the podium, having been so near to a maiden stage success earlier in the race.
He said on ITV4: "It's unbelievable because I was two times really close and actually today I never believed I could make it because I was really doubtful.
"I went full gust in the last 100 metres and it's really nice.
"Actually I was always doubting. I had the picture in my mind from the last two stages where I was close."
He was thrilled to cross the line and banish those doubts.
"It's my first pro victory and it's on the Tour, it couldn't be better," he said.
"I would never believe I could win here a stage at this age.
"Just to start here was a dream, but now I'm here and have a victory and two podiums - it's like a dream."
1. Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) 5:08:49 2. Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) +0:47 3. Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) +0:52 4. Quentin Pacher (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) +0:52 5. Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) +0:52
General Classification 1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 51:26:43 2. Egan Bernal (Team INEOS) +0:21 3. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +0:28
Points Classification 1. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 252 points 2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 186 3. Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) 162
King of the Mountains 1. Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) 36 2. Nans Peters (AG2R La Mondiale) 31 3. Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) 31
Stage 13 takes the riders from Chatel-Guyon to the challenging Puy Mary climb in Cantal. The 191.5-kilometre course will test the climbers, with the early stiff ascent of the Col de Ceyssat followed in the closing stages by the steep ride up the Col de Neronne.
All the LIVE action from Stage 13 Chatel-Guyon - Puy Mary Cantal E1 of Tour de France can be watched on Eurosport and Eurosport HD from 03:30 PM IST onwards on September 11.