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Armee's alliance clears Romandie mountains

Sander Armee's second day on the offensive saw him pull on the king of the mountains jersey at the end of stage 2 at the Tour de Romandie, and the 31-year-old Lotto Soudal rider told Cyclingnews that he has no plans to relinquish it before the race concludes on Sunday.

On a day blighted by snow, rain and plummeting temperatures, Armee linked up with Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Andriy Grivko (Astana Pro Team) and eventual stage winner Stefan Küng (BMC Racing Team) on the road to Bulle. The foursome worked tirelessly, and although Armee lost contact inside the final 20 kilometres of the stage, the 18 points he picked up, coupled with the points he won on stage 1, were enough to catapult him to the top of the KOM standings. Armee won the jersey in 2016 after utilising similar tactics, and as he slowly made his way to the Lotto Soudal team bus he shared his day's strategy.

"I love this race, apart from the weather. Last year I took this jersey, and since I was in the break yesterday and took some points I knew that if I took one climb today then I would take the jersey. I tried and I took all three climbs, which was great," he told Cyclingnews as the team soigneur handed him warm food.

Armee started the stage relatively well placed on GC, two minutes down on race leader Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo). As the best placed rider in the break, it was a slight surprise to see such well-oiled collaboration between the leading four riders. They pushed their advantage out to almost six minutes as the snow fell, but with 20km to go and the KOM jersey secured, Armee let the rest of the break go. He hinted that it wasn't a tactical decision but one borne out of fatigue in the poor conditions.

"It was a parcours where a bunch sprint was possible. I didn't think that we had much of a chance of staying in front, but we were four guys riding fast and at one point we had 5:40. That's when I thought that it was possible to stay away. Then with 20km to go I was so cold and it was over for me. I'm disappointed because there was also a chance of a stage win."

The final stage of the race is an individual time trial but there are still enough points in the mountains classification to shake up the standings. Stage 4 is the queen stage and with Simon Yates lying second, 15 points in arrears, Armee knows that he might need to launch himself into another early break.

"It's still two more stages but for now I have it. I hope I can keep this, of course, but I still need to take some extra points. Mathematically it's possible that I don't need to gain more points but with the GC guys going for the stage win on Saturday, they could take the jersey. It means I might try something tomorrow or the day after."

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