Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) continued his stellar season with a win in the opening time trial stage of the Tour de Suisse on Saturday, beating pre-stage favourite Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) by four seconds.

Sagan blitzed the 7.3-kilometre stage around Lugano in a time of nine minutes and 43 seconds in a ride that former time trial world champion Cancellara simply couldn’t answer.

The Swiss rider is still building his form after breaking his collarbone at the Tour of Flanders in April. The result hides the fact that Cancellara picked up his pace considerably on the second half of the course after coming through the first intermediate time check 12th fastest.

Moreno Moser gave Liquigas-Cannondale further cause to celebrate with a third place, seven seconds adrift of team-mate Sagan.

Defending champion Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) finished 57th fastest, 41 seconds behind Sagan.

Sagan took four consecutive stage wins at the Tour of California in May and is shaping up to be a serious rival to Mark Cavendish (Sky) at this year’s Tour de France at the end of this month.

Along with the currently running Criterium du Dauphine, the WorldTour-level Tour de Suisse is seen as a key build-up race ahead of the Tour de France.

Sunday’s first road stage heads straight to the mountains, with the hors categorie Simplon Pass punctuating the middle of the day and a mountain-top finish on Verbier to sort out the overall classification.

The 2012 Tour de Suisse concludes on Sunday, June 17.

Results

Tour de Suisse 2012, stage one: Lugano to Lugano, 7.3km ITT


1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale in 9-43

2. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan at 4 secs

3. Moreno Moser (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 7 secs

4. Martin Elmiger (Swi) Ag2r La Mondiale at 11 secs

5. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana at 15 secs

6. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge at 17 secs

7. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 18 secs

8. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 19 secs

9. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Rabobank at 20 secs

10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) RadioShack-Nissan at 22 secs

Overall classification after stage one

1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale

2. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan at 4 secs

3. Moreno Moser (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 7 secs

4. Martin Elmiger (Swi) Ag2r La Mondiale at 11 secs

5. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana at 15 secs

6. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge at 17 secs

7. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 18 secs

8. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 19 secs

9. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Rabobank at 20 secs

10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) RadioShack-Nissan at 22 secs