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Tour de Suisse 2018: Stage 2


Stage 2 of the Tour de Suisse covers four laps of a hilly 39 km circuit course, with start and finish in Frauenfeld.

Tour de Suisse race home

Good afternoon and welcome back to the Tour de Suisse. We will finally see some climbing today, with each of the 39km circuit course including a Cat. 3 climb. However, a bunch sprint finish is expected.

And they're off! The first km is neutralized.

Here is the top ten in GC, after yesterday’s team time trial:

We already have a three-rider break group. We will try to get the names for you.

The trio is Perrig Quemeneur (TDE), Filippo Zaccanti (NIP) and  Calvin Watson (ABS). They already have about 1:30.

Only seven km into the stage, the group has a 3 minute gap. That puts Zaccanti in the virtual lead.

BMC convincingly won the opening team time trial yesterday, and – coincidentally, we are sure – Swiss rider Stefan Küng was the first over the line and thus today wears the leader’s jersey.

That was the good news for BMC. The bad news is that they still don’t have a sponsor for the coming season, and things are getting tense. Although team GM Jim Ochowicz says there are some “good prospects in the pipeline”, a number of riders have started looking around already.

One of those top riders is Rohan Dennis, who recently won the second time trial at the Giro d’Italia. He is said to be “90 percent there in negotiations" with Bahrain Merida.

The three leaders have conquered the day's mountain for the first time, and it went like this: Zaccanti ahead of Quemeneur and Watson. 

Let’s take a look at the three in the escape group. Watson, 25, is an Australian riding for the Irish Aqua Blue team. He started out with Jayco-AIS in 2012, then was out of contract for a year before returning with Trek Factory Racing in 2014 and 2015. After a year with Anpost-Chainreaction, he signed with Aqua Blue in 2017. His results are, shall we say, sparse.

Quemeneur is a 34-year-old Frenchman, who has been riding professionally since 2008. He too is a domestique whose strength lies more in helping the team leaders than in bringing in personal results.


The first lap of the circuit course is done, with three more to go. The leaders' gap is under two minutes now, as BMC and QuickStep are keeping a close hand on things. 

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Race leader Küng, 24, has spent his whole career with BMC, this being his fourth year with the team. He had quite a year in 2017, winning the national time trial title, and stages at the Tour de Romandie and the Binck Bank Tour, and finished third overall in the Tour of Britain.

The Dauphine has come to an end, and Geraint Thomas takes the title for Team Sky. Adam Yates of Mitchelton-Scott won the mountaintop finish of the final stage.

After 50 km of racing, the gap is down to 1:27. The field isn't eager to let them, or anyone, get away today. 

WE have had an intermediate sprint, with the points going in this order: Watson, Quemeneur and Zaccanti.

Not only a sprint, but also another mountain ranking! The second one was just like the first one: Zaccanti ahead of Quermeneur and Watson. The gap is now 1:44.

Dutch journalist Jose Been took a look at the injuries Küng has had over the years, and it is an impressive list: “broke a vertebra (2015), had glandular fever (2015), broke his collarbone and pelvis (2016) and his jaw (2018)”.

He did indeed break his jaw this year, at Paris-Roubaix in a late crash. He underwent surgery and only returned to racing at the Hammer Series in Limburg the end of last month.

When you hear of an expected sprint finish and Peter Sagan is in the race, you pretty much assume he will be in the mix, if not in the lead. Yesterday he said on the team’s Twitter, “Ths was my first race day after an intense training period at high altitude in the US and I feel in good shape.” Not what his rivals would have hoped to hear!

Richie Porte is one of those BMC riders worried about the future, calling it “crunch time.” While he would like to remain with the team, he is not yet ready to predict where he will be in 2019.

We are at roughly the halfway point of this stage, and the gap is still around the two minute mark.

That means we have finished two laps of the course,with two more to come.

Team Sunweb had its time on the hot seat (seats?) yesterday before giving way to BMC. “The goal was to come over the two climbs in the beginning with a minimum of six riders and do a technically good TTT overall. As it worked out, we had already lost three riders before the top of the second climb and as a result we had to do the last 12km with just four riders. In the end we finished second which is still a good start to the race,” said team coach Marc Reef on the team’s website.

72km remaining from 155km

QuickStep has two riders at the head of the peloton and they are having quite a conversation. Probably about whether they really want to catch the break group with so many kms left, and how much time they should let the three leaders have.

Astana went into the TTT with an eye to the Tour de France, unfortunately finishing next to last. According to DS Dmitriy Fofonov, “We wanted to try some strategies of racing and to do some experiments. Indeed, it was a risk, but we still have 4 weeks before the Tour and I think, it was a good moment to risk a bit and to try something new. So, some points worked as we wanted, but in some points we failure. It did not work as we could expect. But, it was a valuable experience for us, we have learned our weak points and now we have four weeks to improve it.”

63km remaining from 155km

The three leaders go up the day's climb for the third time.

As the peloton starts up the climb, Michael Albasini of Mitchelton-Scott attacks from the peloton.

Meanwhile the gap has grown to 1:51, with 60 km to go.

 The third climb of the mountain produced the same results as the first two: Zaccani ahead of Quemeneur and Watson. Which should assure the young Italian of the KOM title today.

Albasini is powering his way up, now only 43 seconds behind the leading trio.

Albasini is almost by the three leaders, and the gap to the peloton has grown again, to 1:53.

With 56 km to go, Albasini has caught the break group.

Albasini is now also the virtual race leader.

BMC, QuickStep and Lotto Soudal all with a rider each at the head of the peloton.

Only 50 km left to go, and the gap is right about 1:30.

QuickStep finished third yesterday, and was not dissatisfied. “With the first half of the stage packing two climbs, we decided to ride full gas from the start, because we knew it was there that we could gain time, as the second part, which contained a fast descent and flat roads, didn't present any opportunities to take an advantage. Unfortunately, we lost Iljo quite early, then Fernando tried to close the gap but it wasn't easy, while Tim had an untimely mechanical. For that reason, we were down to four riders inside the last kilometers and we lost important time there. Considering all these factors, I thing we can be satisfied with our time trial; third in this company is a good result", said sports director Tom Steels at the end of the stage.

The peloton is crossing a bridge and someone in the field thought it would be a good idea to throw his empty bidon into the river. We do not think this is a good idea at all and hope the commissaires find out who it was. 

With 43 km left, the gap hs dropped to just over one minute. It is getting time anyway to start catching the break group, and the field has even more motivation now that Albasini is in that lead group.

The four leaders cross the finish line for the penultimate time, with Albasini leading the way. Only 39 km left to go!

And only 1:03 later, the peloton comes through.

A crash in the field, with Mikel Landa one of those nvolved. The other two were from EF and Vini Fantini. That is Marangoli, who is alrady up on his feet. The EF rider is William Clarke, who is slowly getting up again.

Landa was quickly back up and going.

34km remaining from 155km

Albasini and Quemeneur are now alone in the lead. 

The four leaders are back together, but the gap is only 33 seconds now.

QuickStep now grinding away at the head of the peloton.

28km remaining from 155km

The break is over with 27km left to go.

Küng jumps from the field to take the bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint. A Katusha rider goes with him. The two toy with the idea of staying away, but it doesn't happen.

They are all about to head up the climb for the final time.

Albasini has now dropped to the back of the field, paying for his attack.

Marcus Burghardt is at the head of the field, controlling things for Bora teammate Peter Sagan.

Oss takes over for Burghardt.

Küng picked up 3 seconds bonus at that sprint. That puts him ahead of all his teammates, with whom he was previously tied on time.

Porte attacks out of the peloton. A Movistar rider goes with him as do a few others.

Things coming more or less back together. 17 km to go.

Mark Padun of Bahrain Merida stayed ahead and has about 10 seconds on the field.

Two sprinters won't be in at the end: Degenkolb and Kristoff have been dropped.

Küng moves to the head of the field, but almost immediately we have more attacks, with an Aqua Blue rider firt to go.

A largish group has formed but seems unlikely to get away.

Mechanical for Philippe Gilbert, who has to wait for a new bike. He will have to make his way back up tot the field alone. 

Everyone had come back together with 12 km -- which of course only means that the next attacks followed almost immediately.

Seven riders are ahead, in a very loose group, including Richeze.

That group now has nine seconds, with 9 km to go.

Both the lead group and the peloton are relatively disorganized. Bora's patrick Konrad is in the group, and possibly also Burghardt.

Trek's Stuyven is also up there.

BMC turns things up a notch in the field and starts cutting into the gap.

The lead group is not working together at all and is now caught, with 5.2 km left.Sylvain Dillier tries to go again but the field catches him quickly.

The field, by the way, is greatly reduced, maybe 50-60 riders.

Or even fewer than that. The question is which sprinters may have survived so far. 

The 3 km marker has now been passed.  

Diego Ulissi gives it a try, along with Jakob Fuglsang and Jasper Stuyvens, but again, nothing doing.

FDJ is the next to try, with Juraj Sagan along for the ride. But no.....

Peter Sagan on Michael Matthews' wheel. One km to go!

Küng attacks! But he is caught and Matthews goes, very very early.

Matthews had no chance and who wins but of course Sagan!

Küng should easily hold on to the race lead.

AFter Matthews was caught, Gaviria charged to the front to go for the win. But he was caught and passed by the World Champion.

Gaviria second, Nathan Haas third, and Matthews fourth.

It is Sagan's 16th stage win in this race!


That is Sagan's fifth win this year, and his first one since Paris-Roubaix.

General classification after stage 2

“I have to say thanks to my teammates because they trusted me,” Sagan said after the stage. “I was thinking about the tactics but in he end it just happened as I thought. I’m just very happy to have won this second stage. Now I can say all the preparation that I’ve done is good. Now we can continue a little bit more relaxed in the next few days.”

Thanks for joining us for live coverage of stage 2 of the Tour de Suisse. 

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