BMC Racing rider out-sprints Andriy Grivko as stage shortened due to snow
Stefan Küng (BMC Racing) provided another Swiss victory for the home fans to cheer as the breakaway prevailed on stage two of the Tour de Romandie.
Küng had been the first rider to escape from the bunch early in the stage, and was first to cross the line in Bulle as the peloton miscalculated the chase, enabling the break to stay away.
Initially part of a a four man move, Küng eventually found himself in a two-up sprint with Andriy Grivko (Astana) after Sander Armee (Lotto-Soudal) and Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) were dropped.
And in torrential rain at the end of a stage plagued by poor conditions, it was Küng who proved the strongest, comfortably out-sprinting Grivko in the final few hundred metres.
With freezing temperatures and snowfall at the planned start town of Champéry, the start of stage two of the Tour de Romandie was moved 24km down the road to Aigle (which also hosted the prologue and the start of stage one).
The four rider move that would become the breakaway escaped within the first couple of kilometres, consisting of Sander Armee (Lotto-Soudal), Stefan Küng (BMC Racing), Andriy Grivko (Astana), and Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).
That foursome enjoyed a maximum advantage of six minutes, with Armee taking the prizes at the top of the day’s three classified climbs to take the lead of the mountains classification.
Behind, the peloton seemed more concerned with keeping warm than making the catch, as the riders were forced to deal with falling snow towards the top of each of the day’s climb.
However as the race entered it’s final circuit around the town of Bulle with 24km to go, the pace began to rise behind, with Bahrain-Merida and Quick-Step Floors in particular looking keen to bring the break back.
Entering the final 20km and the break still held an advantage of 2-30 over the chasing peloton, but despite considerable effort on the front of the bunch and Sander Armee being dropped, that gap didn’t fall significantly, with the four riders out front still two minutes ahead going in to the final 10km.
From there it looked unlikely that the break would be caught, and with four kilometres the infighting began in the break, with Grivko launching an acceleration that was enough to dispatch Veuchelen.
The two remaining riders seemed content to contest the stage in a sprint, and it was Küng who proved the strongest at the end of a tough stage, having too much power in reserve as Grivko was not even able to come alongside his Swiss rival in the finishing sprint.
The bunch sprint for third was won by Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) ahead of Alexander Edmondson (Orica-Scott), while Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) retained his overall lead.
Tour de Romandie, stage two: Aigle to Bulle (136.5km)
1. Stefan Küng (Sui) BMC Racing Team, in 3-33-15
2. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana, at same time
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 20 secs
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, all at same time
General classification after stage two
1. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, in 8-12-42
2. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors, at 8 secs
3. Jesus Herrada (Esp) Movistar Team, at 8 secs
4. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, at 9 secs
5. Jon Izaguirre (Esp) Bahrain-Merida, at 12 secs
6. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors, at 12 secs
7. José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin, at 13 secs
8. Ruben Fernandez (Esp) Movistar Team, at 13 secs
9. Michael Albasini (Sui) Orica-Scott, at 14 secs
10. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team, at 14 secs