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Tour de Romandie stage 2 - Live coverage


Hello and welcome to stage 2 of the Tour de Romandie. It's the toughest day of the race so far with several major climbs ahead of the riders. We're about five minutes before the official roll out, and everyone has signed on for the morning.

We are in La Neuveville this afternoon and the race takes in 165.7k to Saint-Imier. After yesterday's sprint and a win for Peter Sagan we head into the mountains with five second-category climbs on the menu along with the first-category La Vue-des-Alpes to finish, 17 kilometres from the line.

One rider who hasn't started this morning is Alexey Lutsenko

Here's how the GC looks coming into today's important stage:

General classification after stage 1

1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers 4:18:06
2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:0:09
3 Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers
4 Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:0:11
5 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:0:12
6 Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain Victorious 0:0:13
7 Patrick Bevin (NZl) Israel Start-up Nation 0:0:14
8 Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis
9 Marc Hirschi (Swi) UAE Team Emirates 0:0:15
10 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep

Ineos have cards to play, that's for sure and they dominated the podium in Catalunya earlier this year with Adam Yates, Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas occupying 1,2,3. They could do the same here in Switzerland, and there's another TT to come later in the race but it will be interesting to see how they divide out roles today. Will they ride for Dennis if he's attacked or will they send riders up the road?

The flag has dropped and we're racing on stage 2 of the Tour de Romandie. The first part of the stage is relatively flat but we should see an intense battle to establish the break.

Tour of Romandie is one of my favourite stage races to cover, having been there in 2017 and 2018. In that latter year, I covered the race with Philippa York. After almost killing us in an accident with our hire car I had the absolute honor of sitting in on her interview with former teammate and friend Allen Peiper. Honestly one of the best moments I've had in this job. Here's Philippa's excellent story - well worth a read.

Marc Hirschi is having a bit of bother with his bike at the back of the pack and is going to change machines. 

Here's what race leader Dennis said about today's stage (last night).

If Dennis is climbing like he was in the Giro last year, or the Tour de Suisse in 2019, he'll hold his jersey and perhaps even extend that lead. 

151km to go

A batch of riders have scuttled off the front and have a small gap on the rest of the peloton. Race radio has crackled into life but hasn't confirmed the names yet and we've got low cloud cover today so can't make the numbers out from the CN blimp either. Disaster. 

We're about to hit the Cote de Preles, the first climb of the day. It's 4.6km in length and has an average gradient of 8 percent. It's basically the perfect launchpad for a bunch of attacks. Surely this is where the early break will be formed. We've covered 20km already. 

140km to go

The leaders have crested the top of the climb but the road is deceptive and continues to point towards the sky as the elevation creeps up. Steven Kruijswijk is here for Jumbo Visma but he didn't have a great prologue but the Dutch team have Sepp Kuss and he's flying at the moment. They're clearly trying to burn off a few Ineos riders and make this a tough race from the outset. 

136km to go

The big 2 - 7 for Tolhoek

The six leaders, including our birthday boy have 1'07 over the peloton with 129km to go. Antwan Tolhoek was first over the first climb of the day too. Bonne anniversaire.

Forget everything I've told you so far about the day's break as race radio is making a few corrections in terms of who is in the move. Antwan Tolhoek is there, that's for certain, as well as Hamilton. Full list to come.

Ok, so our leaders are and you can trust me on this, are Rein Taaramäe, Antwan Tolhoek, Chris Hamilton, Jonathan Caicedo, Davide Villella and Hermann Pernsteiner. They have 1'35 over the bunch with 124km to go. And we're about to start the Chaumont climb. 

Over the top of the climb and the peloton have allowed the gap to move out to 2'04.

Niklas Eg had been on the attack and had held the six leaders at 50 seconds but he's just been gobbled up by the pack with 110km to go.

The leaders are on the lower slopes of the third climb on the menu, Les Bugnenets. It's a second cat climb, 6.4km in length and has an average gradient of 5.3 per cent.

Rein Taaramäe, who is in the break, has had such a long and fascinating career. He turned pro back in 2008 and for a time was seen a potential Grand Tour rider after finishing 11th in the 2011 Tour and taking second in the white jersey competition. Things never panned out for him in that direction with injuries and health holding him back at times. He spent the first half of his career at Cofidis but has had stints at Astana, Katusha, Direct Energie and now Intermarche. 34, still going strong, and he's off to the Giro d'Italia next month.

106km to go

Off the descent of the last climb and the leaders are on the Mont Crosin, the fourth second cat climb of the day. It's 5.2km long and has an average gradient of 8 per cent, so the toughest climb of the race so far. The six leaders have 2'13 over the peloton. 

The six leaders did regroup after that mini-split earlier and with 98km to go in the stage, they're about half-way up the current climb. 

Away from Romandie and the Giro d'Italia starts in just nine days. Check out our bumper race preview, right here.

Hermann Pernsteiner is the best placed rider in the break. He's 41st and at 28 seconds off Dennis' lead.

Sam Bewley has abandoned the race. He's had a really long and tough comeback after crashing in the Tour last year and then undergoing surgery. We interviewed him during the off-season and he gave some great answers about his injury, rehab and plans. Story is here.

Keeping on the New Zealand theme, we caught up with George Bennett last night. He's racing the Giro and is targeting the top five on GC. He has a good chance if he can have a clear run and stays healthy. Always gives good answers, and one of the best interviewees in men's cycling. The story is here.

85km to go

Back onto slightly flatter terrain and this is where the main field can just grind the six leaders down. 80km to go and the gap is at 1'40.

A reminder how things stand on GC heading into today's stage:

Outside of the top ten, we might expect moves from the likes of Woods, Kuss and even Miguel Angel Lopez today. 

This is Lopez' first race this season but to be fair he had COVID and he's talked about the mental pressures that sportsmen and women face these days. 

Into the final 75km and the break have actually managed to extend their lead to 2'31. 

It's all Ineos Grenadiers on the front at the moment as they ride tempo with Dennis neatly tucked in at the end of the pace-line. 

Owain Doull, who was on the long list for the Giro, is setting the pace as we see Stephen Williams take a little tumble in the feedzone. He looks to be okay though.

There has definitely been an increase in pace at the front of the peloton in the last few minutes and it's still Doull who is sitting on the front but the break are responding and the gap has gone out to 2'44 with 71km to go.

We have an intermediate sprint coming up. They're likely to roll through with the bunch at 2'30.

The break are on an unclassified climb at the moment and Amador has come to the front and lined out the peloton as we see the gap drop to 2'00 with 62km to go.

The break and the bunch are on the descent now and the gap is just ticking down second by second but we still have two major climbs to come. 

The presence of Amador and the increase in pace is starting to pay off. The next climb is 4km in length but it averages 12 per cent and the gap is down to 1'32. We're about 10km from the foot of the ascent. 

Amador isn't hanging around, as he and Doull continue to swap turns on the front of the peloton. 

The bunch are still descending and the next climb is about 6km away. Ineos will want to keep this pair on the front for as  long as possible, even on the next second cat climb. 

The bunch head through the finish line for the second time today, but there's still 49km to go and Taaramäe has pushed on alone. The peloton at are 1'27 but we're about to start climbing.

Taaramäe hits the climb first, with the peloton at 1'12. This could all come back together rather quickly if Ineos keep their momentum at this level. 

Taaramäe is still going alone and has about 7 seconds on the rest of the break. 

The bunch actually ease up on the climb as Ineos want to save Doull and Amador. The gap is back out to 1'50 with 44km to go as Taaramäe continues to lead the race solo.

The pace is steady but not frantic, so much of the peloton are still here as Taaramäe extends his lead. He's got over 25 seconds on the rest of the break and then 2'05 over the peloton. Could the 34-year-old pull off a major shock?

Taaramäe is closing in on the top of the climb and he's rattling along rather nicely. 1'55 with 43km to go.

Ineos not getting any assistance, which isn't a surprise as they running 1, 2, 3 on GC.

Taaramäe has 33 seconds on his earlier companions.

The peloton crest the climb and all of a sudden the pace is lit up by Amador once more as we see Froome moving up the peloton. He's still in the frame.

Tolhoek was distanced on the climb, and it looks like he sat up, so he must have been called back because he was good enough to stay with that group.

Rein Taaramäe continues his long distance attack and holds 2'18 over the peloton with 37km to go as we descent towards the final climb of the day.

The remnants of the break only have about 30 seconds on the peloton but we're closing in on the first category climb. Rein Taaramäe, meanwhile, has 1'57 as his team car moves up and offers him some food and advice.

It's going to be interesting to see what Ganna does on the final climb or whether he takes over the pace setting just before we get there.

Rein Taaramäe races through the second intermediate sprint of the day. He started 34 seconds down on Dennis but on this rise he's starting to wobble. He's still not on the official climb yet but does have 1'53 on the peloton. The rest of the break has been caught.

A few more teams have moved up, Bahrain for Haig and Assos too. 

25km to go

Rein Taaramäe almost takes a wrong turn but manages to salvage the situation as he closes in on the last climb of the stage. 

The gap is coming down, it's at 1'33 with 24km to go and we're not even going uphill yep. It's not looking great for Rein Taaramäe

Tony Martin makes his first appearance on the front and has a line of teammates on his wheel. UAE are also trying to get in on the action. 23km to go.

1'09 now for Rein Taaramäe as Dunbar takes over with Ganna on his wheel. 

Woods and ISN are present and accounted for as well. 

We're climbing and Sagan sits up with a batch of riders doing the same. Cavagna is one of them. 

Dennis is looking comfortable at the moment and he should, should, be okay no this climb. Gilbert dropped. Dowsett dropped. Rein Taaramäe has 57 seconds. 

Powless has been dropped, which is a bit of a surprise. 

Rein Taaramäe is struggling and we've still got over 5km to go on this climb. The gap is at 40 seconds.

Rein Taaramäe has cracked. He's easing up and just waiting for the peloton. Good move but he just had too much to do.

21km to go and Froome is at the back as well.

21km to go

DMS have sent a rider up the road and Masnada is following but five riders are in the group. Now 6. 20km to go. Trek attack too and it looks like Woods is in that move. Your move Ineos. 

Kuss is in the move too. Dunbar and Ganna have gone and now it's Dennis who takes over the pace setting. 

The group are almost caught but Woods goes again and Dennis lifts the pace. It's Woods, Elissonde, Kuss off the front with 19.6km to go.

The gap is only about 6 seconds and Dennis is bringing it all back together. 

Dennis leads Thomas, and Porte.

And we're all back together with Dennis put to work on the front. This helps him too, as he can ride at his own tempo. 2km from the top of the final climb.

Hirschi is still in this group by the way.... perhaps the fastest finisher left in this group. 18km to go.

Ulissi is also in the lead group. No Cort though, he would have been good in a finish like this.

We're down to about 30 riders in the lead group as we approach the top of the climb. 

Bevin is in the lead group to. He's a smart finisher from a small group. 

Colbrelli is also there too for Bahrain Victorious if this comes down to a sprint.

On the descent and it's still Dennis on the front as he time trials towards the line with 16km to go.

Dunbar and Ganna are trying to make contact with the front group but Dennis continues to set the pace with 12.9km to go.

10km to go

Bahrain, Dennis's old team give him a rest and set the pace, most likely in order to set up Colbrelli for the final. 

5.9km to go and Dennis is back on the front of the peloton. 

It looks like Woods is going to leadout Bevin. 

3.6km to go and Dennis is going to probably lead this out too.

AG2R attack with Ben O'Connor but Dennis shuts this one down right away. 1.5km to go.

But there's a gap. Dennis, O'Connor and Thomas.

Woods closes it. 1km to go.

Here come Bahrain to the front.

Bahrain lead out, Bevin in Colbrelli's wheel.

Here comes Bevin, he's coming on the left shoulder of Colbrelli. This is going to be close.

Sonny Colbrelli wins stage 2 of the Tour de Romandie.

Bevin looked rapid but has to settle for second on the day.

Great lead out from Bahrain Victorious and here are your results for the stage and the GC:

Here's our race report.

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