Live coverage of the opening road stage of the 2017 Tour de Romandie, with a summit finish at Champéry.
Hello there, and welcome to our live coverage of stage 1 of the Tour de Romandie. The race kicked off yesterday with a prologue but this is the first proper road stage, and a serious one it is, too, with a tough summit finish at Champéry that should have a major impact on the overall classification.
As with yesterday's prologue, today's stage starts in Aigle, home of cycling's governing body, the UCI.
The riders have all signed on and the they'll be rolling out in a matter of moments.
Here's the stage profile
The peloton rolls out of Aigle. There's a short neutralised section to begin with.
The flag drops and two riders head off on the attack at KM0. They are Sander Armée of Lotto Soudal, and Marco Minnaard of Wanty-Groupe Gobert.
We have a group of five looking to bridge up to the two leaders.
In there are Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Matbey Mamykin (Katusha-Alpecin), Oliveiro Troia (UAE Team Emirates), Mekseb Debesay (Dimension Data), and Remy Mertz (Lotto Soudal).
As is so often the case at Romandie, the conditions are cold, wet and miserable. Here's a start line shot from our very own Josh Evans.
The leading duo stretch out a decent advantage, which is nearly up at two minutes.
As the race situation settles down, now's a good time to catch up on yesterday's action.
It was only a short prologue but, in wet conditions with several technical corners, it was certainly a test. And it was Fabio Felline, who's having a cracking season, who rose to the top. There were also some interesting first indications from a GC persepctive, with some big names losing time after opting for a cautious approach in the wet. Here's our full stage report:
The chasing group has finally made the bridge to our two leaders. The only thing is that Remy Mertz was dropped in the process. So that gives us 6 riders out front.
148km remaining from 168km
After 20 kilometres of racing, the gap between the break and the peloton stands at 4 minutes 30 seconds.
A reminder of the six riders in the break:
Sander Armée (Lotto Soudal)
Marco Minnaard (Wanty-Groupe Gobert)
Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe)
Matbey Mamykin (Katusha-Alpecin)
Oliveiro Troia (UAE Team Emirates)
Mekseb Debesay (Dimension Data)
The riders are covering the flat opening part of this stage, but the climbing will begin shortly, at around the 40km mark. We kick off with a short third-category ascent, and we get another one 20km or so later.
Things ramp up around the half-way point with the longer second-category ascent of Vex, followed by a 40km détente ahead of the end-game. That consists of a short but testing cat-3 climb at La Rasse - which peaks out at 9.6 percent - followed by the significantly more difficult category 1 finish into Champery, where stage 9 of this year’s Tour de France concludes. The final climb is 14.4km long, with really tough gradients that are mitigated by a more forgiving section around half-way up.
5:10 is the gap now.
Yesterday's prologue was a feast for the tech-lovers. Josh Evans spent the day at the buses checking out what set-ups were being used by the different riders and teams. Here's what he found.
128km remaining from 168km
We're heading for the first climb of the day at Chamoson.
@Lotto_Soudal Wed, 26th Apr 2017 11:58:37
@robhayles1 Wed, 26th Apr 2017 11:47:33
Sander is first to the KOM point, ahead of Burghardt and Minnaard.
Troia dropped from the break on that climb.
118km remaining from 168km
The gap between the breakaway - now with just five riders - and the peloton has moved out to 7 minutes.
Chris Froome is one of the favourites for this race, but he almost didn't come at all, having toyed with the idea of heading to the Tour de Yorkshire to race more on home soil. He talks about that decision, and his cautious time trial performances yesterday, in this latest report from Daniel Benson.
@BORAhansgrohe Wed, 26th Apr 2017 12:06:27
111km remaining from 168km
57 kilometres in and the gap stands at 7:30.
Here's a reminder of the stage profile.
Wilco Kelderman is here to apply the finishing touches to his condition ahead of the Giro d'Italia, which begins next weekend. We caught up with the Sunweb rider in Aigle this morning, and here's what he had to say.
"It’s going to be a hard stage and the weather isn’t great. The final climb isn’t that hard so it’s hard to predict how things will finish. Maybe there will be a group or there will just be a few riders. I don’t think it’s hard enough to really cause a lot of splits. I’m a protected rider for the team, so we’ll see.
"From here I go to the Giro. I’m happy about that. I wanted a different programme this year and the Giro is a nice race. We’ve a big goal with Tom [Dumoulin] and I’ll protect him as best I can. I’m looking forward to it. For this race we’ll see. I broke my finger in Strade Bianche so I was out for a bit. My first races back were Amstel and Fleche and I had some good feelings."
A first shot of the bunch from the race organisers
We'll soon be climbing again, with another short third-category ascent at Ollon.
Sander Armée goes once again for the KOM points, and gets them.
Minnaard was second, Debesay third.
Armée is in the virtual lead of the mountains classification. Plenty more climbs to come, mind.
@TrekSegafredo Wed, 26th Apr 2017 12:52:04