Welcome to live coverage of stage 2 of the Tour de Romandie
Good afternoon and welcome to the delayed and slightly altered stage 2 of the Tour de Romandie. The riders are signed on and have upped sticks from Champery to Aigle for the start of the stage.
Snow and cold conditions meant that the organisers were forced to move the start of today's just over 22km down the road. The original parcours had the riders tackling a lengthy descent and this was deemed unsafe in the conditions. You can read the full story here.
Michael Albasini was once again on the top step at the end of a Tour de Romandie stage. The Orica-Scott rider is a regular winner at the race. Fabio Felline kept himself upright in the torrential conditions that doused the finish of the stage to maintain his position as the top of the standings. This is how the general classification looks ahead of the stage.
1 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 4:39:07
2 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:08
3 Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar Team
4 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:09
5 Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:12
6 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors
7 José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:13
8 Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team
9 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-Scott 0:00:14
10 Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team
While Trek-Segafredo retained the leader's jersey for at least another day, their tactics drew ire from Team Sky leader Chris Froome, who questioned if they had done enough work on the front during the stage. Read what Froome had to say here.
And finally, we have some racing action at the Tour de Romandie. The riders have set off from Aigle.
While the first section has been cut off, the rest of the stage will remain the same with three classified climbs. This is how it will look, if you close one eye and block out the first few kilometres.
@Lotto_Soudal Thu, 27th Apr 2017 12:05:18
As well as Armee, BMC's Stephan Kung has gone on the attack. They have two other riders with them and we'll bring you their names as soon as we've got them.
Veuchelen is another member on the breakaway, which has already built up an advantage of 1:30.
Full House! We have the final name in this move and it is Astana's Andriy Grivko. So that is Armee, Kung, Veuchelen and Grivko out front. There are two more riders trying to join them and they are Toms Skuijns and Meiyin Wang.
For posterity, this is what the conditions looked like in Champery this morning.
The four leaders now have 2:54 on the peloton with the two chasers just over a minute behind them.
While the focus is on the Tour de Romandie this week, we have also begun our build-up to the Giro d'Italia, which starts in eight days. For our latest countdown piece, we've spoken to Tom Dumoulin, who won the prologue and had a stint in the pink jersey. He comes back with bigger GC ambtitions and you can read our interview with him right here.
The latest time check for the four leaders is 3:18 over the peloton. The two chasers are getting away from the peloton but they are not closing in on the leaders and there's still 1:12 between the two groups.
Skujins and Wang are chasing hard but remain more than a minute behind the break.
The break leads the peloton by 4:20. With the stage shortened due to the weather, the riders have 113km left to race.
The riders are still in the valley but the climbs begin soon and end with a final ramp up to Bulle at 782m.
That is below the snow line but the riders face another tough day in the saddle.
108km remaining from 136km
Skujins has dropped Wang and is chasing alone.
The first climb will be a key test to see if the talented young rider can get across the 1:00 gap.
Stefan Kung is driving the break along, using his time trial and pursuiting skills.
Andrey Grivko is also strong in breakaways. It could be argued he packs a strong punch.
The break has topped the first climb of the day at Attalens, with Sander Armee taking the maximum points and so the lead in the climber's competition.
The Belgian scored 5 points and so takes the jersey from Adam Yates.
100km remaining from 136km
There is some snow showers on the top but the riders will quickly descend to a warmer level.
The first climb has convinced Skujins to sit up. He's dropped to the main peloton, which is now 5:30.
The peloton will have to chase hard if it wants to catch the break.
As Cyclingnews reported yesterday, there was some questions about Trek-Segafredo's desire to lead the chase of the break.
In theory it is their job because Felline is in the yellow jersey but the team played games yesterday, thinking that Felline might not make it over the final climb.
That forced the likes of Team Sky to chase, with Chris Froome asking why Trek did not lead the chase.
Click here to read the full story.
The riders covered 38.4 km in the first hour of racing. Steady but not slow, considering the conditions and the first 6km climb.
92km remaining from 136km
The stage profile is like a shark's tooth for the remaining 92km. With a passage through Bulle with 25km to go. The riders will cover the same hilly circuit twice before the finish.
With the break so far ahead, Sander Armee is the virtual leader on the road.
Fortunately the roads are dry as the race passes near Lake Geneva. However the sky is grey and heavy. It is raining at the finish in Bulle, north of the lake.
So much for the dry conditions. The Astana team has tweeted a photo of the wet snow and rain on the Le Châtelard climb that goes up to 1026m.
The riders will cover it with 60km to race.
The peloton has yet to start and serious chase of the four-rider break, with the gap at 5:40.
One problem is that several riders have been slowed by mechanical problems, including Kennaugh, Buchmann, Dowsett and Doubey, who suffered a flat.
Sander Armee is on a roll in the KOM. He is also first to the top of the Cat 3 Esmonts climb after 60km of racing.
63km remaining from 136km
The gap has risen slightly and is now at 5:40.
57km remaining from 136km
It has started snowing at the finish in Bulle and no the riders are getting wet on the rolling course.
The peloton is hoping for a sprint finish and so Quick-Step, Team Sky and Trek are riding on the front.
Quick-Step has Richeze as their sprinter, Team Sky has Elia Viviani and Trek can count on Felline in a sprint after a hard, rolling stage.
It should be a great chase and finish today.
We are seeing the first effect of the chase, with the gap down to 4:40.
The weather is getting worse, with rain and wet snow falling now.
Riders in the peloton are struggling to stay warm and waving their arms to generate some heat.
Other riders are putting on extra, heavy rain capes.
A Sunweb rider has crashed, sparking a a little nerves in the peloton.
Andriy Grivko is in the break today. He was recently banned for 45 days for striking Marcel Kittel during the Dubai Tour in early February.
His ban will begin on Monday May 1, after the Tour de Romandie.
The break is 1km from the summit of the Chatelard climb.
This is the highest point of the stage and so hopefully the weather will improve after the descent.
Sander Armee (Lotto Soudal) edges clear and takes maximum points again. He has extended his lead the climber's jersey and so will enjoy a moment on the podium at the end of the stage.
Ian Boswell is riding on the front for Team Sky. He crashed hard at the Tour of the Alps last week but is back racing and back working.
As the peloton reaches the summit of the climb, riders grab bidons filled with hot drinks.
It seems the Sunweb rider who crashed was team leader Warren Barguil.
The French rider has suffered a difficult spring.
Riders are trying to grab bidons wearing gloves and with cold hands.
Several are dropping them, causing an extra danger.
42km remaining from 136km
The kilometres are ticking down but the lead of the four-rider break remains at 4:40.
Evan a brief detour at a corner has not lost them too much time.
The speed is high the peloton, which is lined out.
Bahrain-Merida has placed two riders on the front to help with with the chase but they face a hard task now.
The peloton has split after the surge in pace. A chase group is 30 seconds back.
Three Team Sky are in there, including sprinter Viviani.
36km remaining from 136km
The four riders up front are riding smoothly together.
Kung, Armee, Grivko and Veuchelen all look strong and committed to the cause.
The Cyclingnews countdown to the start of the Giro d'Italia has begun.
Today we have a special feature on Tom Dumoulin of Team Sunweb. He wore the leader's pink jersey for much of the first week last year but is targeting overall victory this year.
Click here to read the feature.
Team Sunweb named its Giro squad today.
Click here to read to see who will back Dumoulin's shot at victory in the 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia.
27km remaining from 136km
The break is approaching the finish area for the final 25km circuit.
The gap is down to 3:20 but the four have a great chance of staying away.
The rain is still pouring down but the peloton has come back together and so the peloton is much bigger with more riders, in theory, able to chase.
The break passes through the finish and so get to see the final corners in the final kilometre.
They grab fresh bidons from team staff.
The peloton is 3:00 now.
21km remaining from 136km
The gap is coming down but the peloton may have left it too late to catch the four up front.
Sander Armee has been distanced by the other three riders in the break.
He was the best placed overall at 2:00.
Without him, the peloton may give up the chase.
Ian Boswell was working for Team Sky leader Chris Froome earlier.
He is also working on his fitness for the Tour of California in May, where he will have protected status.
Click here to read what Boswell told Cyclingnews.
16km remaining from 136km
Up front in the break the trio are fully committed to staying away.
Kung raises his arm for the team car. The bar is closed and so he can't feed from the team car.
Kung takes a late gel and talks to the BMC Ds. He'll probably get a fine for that after the stage.
12km remaining from 136km
The trio still leads by 2:15, so the question is:who of the three will win and how?
Who is fastest? Tough question. Will Kung try to take off alone? Probably.
8km remaining from 136km
Kung looks determined. He has won a stage of the Tour de Romandie in the past and is a strong rider.
The LottoNL-Jimbo team is near the front, riding for Roglic, to keep him safe.
This part of the circuit is down hill and so they able to maintain their lead.
If they play games in the final kilometres, then their lead could melt quickly and the peloton could be on them.
Surely an attack will come soon.
AG2R are leading the peloton but most riders just seem to want to get to the end of the stage. It is wet and cold out there.
4km remaining from 136km
Grivko surges ahead and split the attack.
Kung manages to get up to him but Veuchelen is suffering and a gap has opened.
Veuchelen is trying to chase but he is tired.
Kung and Grivko will probably fight it out in a sprint.
Kung's tongue is hanging out as he fights fatigue and the cold.
2km remaining from 136km
The two lead the peloton by 50 seconds now.
It's come down but should be enough.
Grivko and Kung are playing mind games as the final kilometre approaches.
The final Km rises at 2%. It will be a sprint but a slow one, based on power and timing rather than pure speed.
Kung is on the front, Grivko is forcing him to lead it out.
500m to go and they're still together.
Kung goes for it from the front.
The big Swiss rider had some extra strength and managed to hold off Grivko, who couldn't come up in sight of the line.
Kung is tired and cold but he really wanted that.
Grivko was hoping he would fade but the young Swiss rider is strong.
The peloton finished just behind, with Sonny Colbrelli of Bahrain taking the sprint for third.
If only other teams has helped in the chase, then the sprinters could have caught the two.
Kung let out a roar of satisfaction as he hit the line. so did the many Swiss fans at the finish, who were cheering for him.
Australia's Alex Edmondson was fourth, like Colbrelli, only 20 seconds don on Kung.
This is the provisional top ten for the stage.
1 Stefan Küng (Swi) BMC Racing Team 3:33:15
2 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team
3 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:20
4 Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Orica-Scott
5 Ben Swift (GBr) UAE Team Emirates
6 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
7 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Trek-Segafredo
9 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
10 Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors
Fabio Felline finished sixth and so kept the overall race lead.
Replays showed that Grivko was unable to come past Kung in sight of the line.
He was unable to land a knockout punch in the sprint.
Felline leads Schachmann (Quick-Step) by 8 seconds, with Jesus Herrada (Movistar) at the same time.
The riders who survived the cold and wet conditions have quickly disappeared into their team buses.
Some final riders have reached the finish now. There will be a long wait for the hot showers on the bus.
King explained this tactics for the sprint before the podium ceremony.
"I knew that I had to be first in the last corner. The finish rose slightly and so that helped me at the front. I’ve been practicing my sprint with Greg van Avermaet for the Classics and that boosted my confidence for winning a sprint like that.”
Kung was wet and cold but managed to handle the conditions better than many of his rivals in the peloton.
“I think the other guys suffered more than me. I think a 50kg climbers suffers more than me in conditions like that,” he said.
“I know the roads here and I knew the last climb, so I told myself to go for it.”
Kung has been hit by injuries and fractures in recent years, so this win was special for the 23 year-old.
He fractured a vertebrae in the 2015 Giro d’Italia and then fractured his left collarbone and iliac bone in the Swiss TT championships last summer, meaning he missed the Rio Olympics.
“After all my problems of the last few years, It’s great to win,” he said.
On Friday the Tour de Romandie peloton faces another day in testing weather on a 187km rolling stage near Lake Neuchâtel.
The stage starts and finishes in Payerne, covering different circuits for a total of 2000m of climbing.
Kung is a former world individual pursuit champion.
However because of his injuries this is only his fourth professional victory. The last came in the 2015 Tour de Romandie when he won in similar conditions in Freiburg.
That time he won solo after a big day out front a 30km solo break.
Kung's woes have also included the Epstein-Barr virus that has recently struck Mark Cavendish.
As always, we have the first images of the sprint won by Stefan Kung.
Here he is hitting the line, with Grivko just behind him.
As you can see, Kung was happy to win despite the cold and wet conditions.
Kung rode a full Classics campaign in support of Greg van Avermaet.
He's racked up 28 days of racing so far this season but is clearly still strong.
This image shows the tough weather conditions the riders faced, despite the opening 24km and descent being cut due to the UCI's Extreme Weather Protocol.
Overall contenders like Richie Porte (BMC) tried to stay warm and safe in the peloton.
Fabio Felline kept his yellow jersey covered up but finished sixth at the finish and so kept the overall race lead.
Thanks for joining us for today's live coverage from the Tour de Romandie.
For a a full stage report, results and photo gallery, click here.
We will have exclusive news and interviews from the race later.
Join us tomorrow for full live coverage of stage 3 of the Tour of Romandie.
As ever, we'll have all the action.
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