While AG2R-La Mondiale's Martin Elmiger had timing worthy of his Swiss heritage when he took the win on stage two of the Tour de Picardie, his compatriot Alexander Moos (BMC) was equally punctual at the top of the six mountain sprints. Moos swept the climbs to secure the polka dot jersey on the lumpy stage from Ribemont to Clermont-de-l'Oise.
Elmiger was part of the main breakaway of the day, and as the peloton closed in, he was one of just four men who held a slim lead coming into the finish. "At ten kilometres from the finish, I was in the breakaway with a dozen riders and after a fairly technical descent I found myself with just three," Elmiger said. "In the finale it was a bit nervous and the peloton was coming on very quickly. I managed to keep just enough of an advantage to win. I'm really happy with this victory. For the jersey we will see how the race goes "
The AG2R director Gilles Mas agreed that Elmiger's four second advantage would be difficult to maintain on Sunday's two half-stages. "The differences are very small in the overall standings. Tomorrow, the time bonuses are likely to come into play for the final victory.
"We will obviously defend this jersey and Martin will try to do the sprints with the assistance of the team. The riders were supportive, there is a good momentum and a good mood within the group... It's really positive. "
With spots on their mind, the BMC team helped drive the pace for the first 30 kilometres to keep any breakaways from succeeding, but the job was not easy. "There were a lot of attacks, and it was a very tough and fast day," said Moos. "But the team worked very hard for me and controlled the race really well. I am tired now, but the stage went beautifully for us."
Moos not only took out the first two climbs as the group remained intact, but he also jumped into the major break of the day and from there took the rest of the climbs. "Alex joined the main break of the day which had a lot of the strong contenders for the sprints," said team manager John Lelangue. "Casper was there, as was Chavanel and Hunter, so it was an interesting break and a good one for Alex to be in."
By virtue of joining the main break, Alex Moos was able to gain maximum KOM points on the climbs, and secured the jersey for the entire race. "I am very happy to have a tight hold on the jersey with only two mini stages to get through," Moos said. "It is very good for me and very good for the team to have accomplished this today."
As Moos' group was absorbed with barely a kilometre to race, BMC was hoping to continue the success in the bunch sprint, but fell victim to some misfortunes.. "We had some bad luck with several late punctures," Lelangue said. "Danilo punctured with about 15km to go, but Brent Bookwalter was there to give him a wheel, and the guys worked to get Danilo back in contention."
Then bad luck hit again when Tony Cruz, Danilo's designated lead out man for the day, flatted late in the race. "Brent had just gotten back to the group from helping Danilo when he had to give Tony a wheel after Tony flatted!" Lelangue said. "So our sprint train plans were really disorganized after all that." Wyss still managed to finish in the top ten.