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Tour de Romandie 2018: Stage 2


170km remaining from 173km

As we pick up the action in the opening kilometres of stage 2, there is a flurry of attacking at the head of the peloton, but as yet, no group of escapees has managed to forge clear. 

It's an uphill start to proceedings, with the bunch already on the 8.3km Col des Rangiers. The category 3 ascent has an average gradient of 4.8% and pitches of 10%.


There is scarcely a metre of flat thereafter, as the race tracks along an undulating plateau before the second main obstacle of the day, the category 2 Col des Etroits (5.7km at 6%), which comes after 111km. After a fast descent, there follows a rolling run-in to the finish in Yverdon-les-Bains.


The general classification picture is as follows after Omar Fraile's win on stage 1:


1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo 4:09:16
2 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team
3 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:04
4 Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky 0:00:05
5 Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
6 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:08
7 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky 0:00:10
8 Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Team Sky
9 Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
10 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:13


166km remaining from 173km

Midway up Les Rangiers, a five-man group has established a small lead over the peloton. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), almost inevitably, leads the charge. His teammate Victor Campenaerts, Andriy Grivko (Astana), Nathan Brown (EF-Drapac) and Matteo Fabbro (Katusha-Alpecin) have gone with him.


163km remaining from 173km

It's immediately evident that this break has legs. De Gendt, Campenaerts, Brown, Grivko and Fabbro have opened a lead of 1:45 over the peloton as they approach the summit of the day's opening climb.


162km remaining from 173km

De Gendt leads Campenaerts, Brown, Grivko and Fabbro over the top of Les Rangiers.


After a rapid start, the pace has dropped somewhat in the peloton. Roglic et al cross the summit 2:38 down on our five escapees.


With the Giro d'Italia just eight days away, we're counting down to the start of the corsa rosa with a series of features. Today's offering is from Stephen Farrand, who covered Marco Pantani's 1998 Giro d'Italia victory, and provides this timely assessment on the 20th anniversary of the late Pirata's apotheosis.


147km remaining from 173km

This stage, meanwhile, has settled into an orderly shape after that explosive opening. Thomas De Gendt, Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Soudal), Andriy Grivko (Astana), Matteo Fabbro (Katusha-Alpecin) and Nathan Brown (EF-Drapac) now have a lead of 3:35 over the peloton. 


There is no particular concern from Roglic's LottoNL-Jumbo team at this early juncture, who let the gap yawn open a little more, to 4:05. Nathan Brown began the day 26 seconds off the yellow jersey, incidentally, and is the virtual overall leader.


143km remaining from 173km

The break reaches Montfaucon with a lead of 4:30 over the peloton, where LottoNL-Jumbo are beginning to take a more active interest in keeping tabs on this advantage.


Primoz Roglic enjoyed a remarkable first two seasons in the WorldTour, with stage wins at the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, and the Slovenian has continued in a similar vein in 2018, winning the Tour of the Basque Country earlier this month. Roglic will again ride the Tour de France this year, though insists that his ambitions as a rider remain fixed on week-long stage races for the time being. Dan Benson has more here.


137km remaining from 173km

A mechanical problem has seen Fabbri lose contact with the front group, and the quartet ahead of him are certainly not standing on ceremony. De Gendt, Campenaerts, Grivko and Brown have extended their lead over the bunch to 5:04.


De Gendt, Campenaerts, Grivko and Brown continue to augment their buffer over the peloton. They now have 5:42 in hand.


Philippa York is covering the Tour de Romandie for Cyclingnews this week, and she caught up with Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) yesterday. You can read of the meeting of British champions past and present here.


121km remaining from 173km

De Gendt et al are now 6:17 clear of the peloton, and collaborating very smoothly. De Gendt showed his sharpness by placing 15th in Tuesday's punchy prologue time trial, though he lost three minutes in the finale of yesterday's opening road stage.


There was a time when the Tour de Romandie was a staple of a Giro contender's build-up, but once the corsa rosa start shifted a little earlier in May, relatively few riders opt to combine the two races. One notable exception this year is Rohan Dennis (BMC), who is a favourite for the first maglia rosa in Israel on May 4. The Australian lies second overall behind Roglic, though BMC's overall challenge here is focused mainly around defending champion Richie Porte, currently 10th at 13 seconds.


107km remaining from 173km

On the unclassified climb out of La Chaux-de-Fonds, the four escapees have nudged their lead out behind the seven-minute mark. The gap is now at 7:13.


90km remaining from 173km

De Gendt leads the break through the intermediate sprint at Brot-Dessus with a lead of just over 7 minutes on the peloton.


Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) abandoned the Tour de Romandie a little earlier, incidentally. The Briton has been filling where he can for an injury-ravaged Dimension Data squad in recent weeks, but he has a period of rest scheduled ahead of his next race, which likely to be the Dauphine in June.


Jakob Fuglsang lies 24 seconds off the overall lead after the opening two days, and will lead Astana's GC challenge here - and at the Tour de France in July. He confirmed today that he will  not defend his Dauphine title, but will instead ride the Tour de Suisse in June. "Form wise, I’m maybe not that far away. Weight-wise I’m a little bit from there. After this I’ll have a break, and have some time to find that bit extra. It’s all about the Tour after that, but I’ll do Suisse as well," Fuglsang told Cyclingnews. "Suisse is now in the spot of the Dauphine in relation to the Tour. There’s also the team time trial in Suisse. There’s one in the Dauphine too but we didn’t know that until recently."


75km remaining from 173km

Fuglsang's teammate Grivko is in the break today, and although the Lotto Soudal duo of Campenaerts and De Gendt are seemingly frustrated by his contribution to the pace-making, the leading quartet has pushed its lead out to 7:40 over the peloton.


69km remaining from 173km

The break hits the foot of the Col des Etroits with a lead of 7:40 over the bunch, and almost immediately Grivko has been left behind by Campenaerts, De Gendt and Brown.


The category 2 Col des Etroits is 5.6km in length with an average gradient of 6.1% and a maximum of 9%.


Grivko has been dropped definitively and is already more than a minute down on the break. The peloton has hit the lower slopes of the climb and is beginning to splinter.


There are still some 63 kilometres from the summit of this climb to the finish, and so the riders jettisoned from the peloton will have ample time in which to latch back on, although the road is undulating all the way to the line after the drop off the Col des Etroits.


Bahrain-Merida have taken up the reins in the main peloton, and their forcing on the Etroits has helped to shave the break's lead back to 6:35.


60km remaining from 173km

De Gendt led Campenaerts and Brown over the top of the Col des Etroits. Grivko was next, with the peloton cresting the summit a little under 6 minutes down.


53km remaining from 173km

Marco Minnaard (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) led the bunch over the summit of the climb, and they are now hurtling down the rapid descent over the other side.


50km remaining from 173km

Bahrain-Merida continue to lead the peloton on this descent in support of Sonny Colbrelli. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step) was reportedly among the fast men distanced on the way up, but the Italian seems to have found his way back on.


47km remaining from 173km

De Gendt, Brown and Campenaerts must be starting to believe in their chances now, as they hit the base of the descent with a lead of 5:40 over the peloton. It will be interesting to see who - if anyone - comes to Bahrain-Merida's aid once the peloton reaches the same point.


43km remaining from 173km

Campenaerts is riding especially generously at the head of this break, perhaps with a view to setting up a later, solo effort from De Gendt. The sprinters' teams, including Quick-Step, have yet to put their shoulders to the wheel and come to Bahrain-Merida's aid. 5:32 the gap.


38km remaining from 173km

De Gendt, Campenaerts and Brown still hold a lead of 5:24 over the peloton, which is being led by Bahrain-Merida. LottoNL-Jumbo have thus far shown no desire to shut down this move, and at this rate, Brown could well move into the yellow jersey this evening.


35km remaining from 173km

The three escapees cross the finish line for the first time with a lead just north of five minutes over the peloton. Unless there is a very sudden and dramatic injection of pace in the bunch, this break is about to go the distance.


31km remaining from 173km

The break's lead has come down inside five minutes for the first time, but when they set out from the start, they would surely have signed for a similar buffer at this juncture.


And then there were two. Campenaerts loses contact with the break as the road climbs once more. De Gendt and Brown remain fully committed to their cause, with a lead of 4:46 over the bunch.


30km remaining from 173km

It might well be the case that some sprinters were shaken loose on the Col des Etroits, hence the lack of reinforcements for the chase effort. BMC have now begun to work on the front of the peloton, though with an eye to keeping Dennis and Porte in GC contention rather than in a bid to win today's stage.


Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) had this to say at the start this morning: "It will be a hard start for sure. The first real downhill is only after 84km. The start is uphill, and then it’s a bit like an Ardennes parcous, always up and down. There are a few sprinters here and this, together with the last day is the only chance they have. I think Quick-Step will ride, Sunweb and Bahrain-Merida for Colbrelli. It will be hard to stay away but if we have a good group at the start, then we have a big chance. Yesterday was a big chance, but it depends on who will chase today. I’ll try today. If it’s a nice group then I want to be in it. If it’s only three guys then it’s not good to be there, as I want to go well in the time trial. On the downhill the bunch wont make up that much time. If we have three minutes at that point, and we don’t lose time on the final climb, then it’s possible to stay away. If you can start the final lap with two minutes, then you have a chance. I did the recon for this on Monday."


27km remaining from 173km

Neither Sunweb nor Quick-Step have chased the break, hence De Gendt and Brown's 4:30 advantage with just 27 kilometres to go. The two leaders are collaborating very smoothly, mindful that they each have something substantial to gain here.


26km remaining from 173km

De Gendt takes advantage of a stiff gradient at La Mauguettaz to attack and drop Brown. The Belgian is alone at the head of the race with a lead of 4:06 over the Bahrain-Merida-led bunch.


24km remaining from 173km

AG2R La Mondiale and Bahrain-Merida lead the peloton, but they are some four minutes down on the lone leader De Gendt, and quickly running out of road.


The same gradient that did for Brown in front is wreaking havoc on the peloton. Pete Kennaugh (Bora-Hansgrohe) is among the riders dumped unceremoniously out the back, as is Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step).


21km remaining from 173km

De Gendt has one stiff, unclassified climb left before the finish, through the road dips and rises all the way to the line. He approaches the final 20km with a lead just shy of four minutes, and should claim the stage honours, barring incident.


19km remaining from 173km

De Gendt is also now the virtual lead of the GC, though the peloton should surely lower the gap sufficiently to deny him the yellow jersey by day's end. He began the day 3:11 off Primoz Roglic's overall lead.


18km remaining from 173km

De Gendt grinds his way up an unclassified climb. His shoulders are rocking from side to side, but he is turning over a big gear and still 3:56 up on the bunch, which is still led by Bahrain-Merida.


16km remaining from 173km

De Gendt must know the stage win is in the bag. The Belgian was already off the front yesterday, and looks set to be rewarded for his aggression this afternoon. He already has a WorldTour win to his name this year thanks to his stage victory in Camprodón on the Volta a Catalunya.


13km remaining from 173km

LottoNL-Jumbo join the chase at the head of the peloton in bid to keep Roglic in the yellow jersey ahead of tomorrow's time trial.


10km remaining from 173km

Into the final 10km for De Gendt, who has a lead of 3:22. The stage victory is all but assured, though he will struggle to hold this current gap and move into the yellow jersey to boot.


8km remaining from 173km

De Gendt tucks into the 'invisible Spinaci' position so beloved of Michele Bartoli in a bid to become a little more aerodynamic. He has 3:18 on the bunch. Nathan Brown, incidentally, is still more than 26 seconds ahead of the bunch, and the American might yet earn himself a day in the yellow jersey.


7km remaining from 173km

LottoNL-Jumbo, Sky and AG2R La Mondiale are on the front of the bunch with Bahrain-Merida, bidding to shut down Brown at least, even if De Gendt is well on his way to victory.


5km remaining from 173km

De Gendt's lead drops to 3:03, and he is no longer the virtual race leader. That notional mantle passes back to Brown, though the peloton is closing in on the American.


4km remaining from 173km

Unfortunately, we have no television pictures or reliable time checks for Nathan Brown, so we might be in the dark about his status until he hits the finish line.


3km remaining from 173km

Rather more certain is the position of De Gendt. He still has three minutes in hand on the bunch, and will have ample time to savour this victory on the run-in.


2km remaining from 173km

An overhead shot demonstrates just how much this peloton has been reduced by the rugged terrain this afternoon, though all of the GC contenders are still aboard. 2:40 the deficit to De Gendt.


1km remaining from 173km

Into the final kilometre for Thomas De Gendt, who is going to win the stage but not take the race lead. 


Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) wins stage 2 of the Tour de Romandie.


Nathan Brown has been caught by the peloton on the run-in. Omar Fraile (Astana) leads the bunch.


The bunch hits the final 400 metres. Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale) attempts to accelerate from distance...


Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) wins the sprint for second place, a little over 2 minutes down on De Gendt. Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R) and Michael Matthews (Sunweb) were also up there. 




1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 4:03:05
2 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:02:04
3 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
4 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
5 Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step Floors
6 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
7 Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky
8 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky
9 Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
10 Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ


General classification after stage 2:


1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo 8:14:25
2 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team
3 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:04
4 Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky 0:00:05
5 Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
6 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:08
7 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky 0:00:10
8 Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
9 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:13
10 José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin




The Holy Week, our documentary on the Spring Classics, produced by La Pedale, is available to buy or rent on Vimeo. Follow the link here for more details.


A full report, results and pictures from today's stage of the Tour de Romandie are available here. We'll be back with more live coverage from tomorrow's time trial, as Roglic looks to defend his yellow jersey.


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