Stage 1 of the Tour de Romandie was always going to be a cagey affair, and so it proved with just a flicker of attacks from the GC contenders as Michael Albasini (Orica-Scott) came away with his seventh-ever stage win the race.
BMC Racing were one of the most active teams during the stage, setting the pace as the peloton pursued the early break, and then reducing the bunch to a little over 50 riders as they climbed to the finish in Chambery. The 15.4km climb never troubled the overall contenders, and the rain and cold were more of a challenge.
Tejay van Garderen appeared to recover from Tuesday's prologue crash with an attack of his own inside the final 5km, while Richie Porte came over the line in 24th place with the rest of the leaders. Both Porte and van Garderen remain more than 30 seconds down on race leader Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo), but the Australian has pinpointed Saturday's queen stage as the point at which the GC race will truly come alive.
"It was a good day to pass through," Porte told Cyclingnews as he tore through a post-race meal.
"It was so cold, everyone was struggling to change gears. We all felt equally as fatigued as each other so it wasn't the most exciting. The next couple of days don't look great weather-wise, but it's nice to get the race started."
Van Garderen, who for the second day declined to talk to the media, attacked on the final climb and drew BMC's rivals into action before Porte moved to the front once there was a general regrouping. In truth, the shallow gradient of the final climb didn't help the pure climbers, leaving the GC riders saving their powder for another day.
"That was pre-planned," Porte said of van Garderen's attack.
"If he had the opportunity to attack he would do it. He's really strong at the moment and his move drew a few GC guys out. It's a good card for Saturday. You can never give up. We'll take it one day at a time and then hopefully Saturday is a big fight. The GC isn't done just yet."
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