Spain?s Oscar Freire (Rabobank) won stage two at the Tour de Romandie on Thursday after an aggressive final 30km in the hills near La Chaux-de-Fonds.
Freire crashed and fractured his ribs in the Tour of California, forcing him to miss the classics, but is clearly back on form.
Two climbs in the finale left all the other sprinters in the red. The bunch split into several groups after Remi Di Gregorio (Francaise des Jeux) attacked hard on the four-kilometre climb with 30km to go. Then Cadel Evans and his Silence-Lotto team mate Philippe Gilbert tried a tandem attack on the final climb of the stage, 15km from the finish. They opened a ten-second gap but Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d?Epargne) inspired the chase and they were caught with four kilometres to go.
Freire then took over and his sprinters instinct did the rest. He perfectly positioned himself on Valverde?s wheel in the final three kilometres and then jumped away to win by more than a bike length. Prologue time trial winner Frantisek Rabon (Columbia) finished second and Assan Bazayev (Astana) was third.
Gregory Rast (Astana) suffered because of the attacks but managed to get back on to the front group, finish in the same time as Freire and so kept the overall race lead, five seconds ahead of Riccardo Serrano (Fuji).
TOUR DE ROMANDIE STAGE TWO RESULTS:
1 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
2 Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Team Columbia
3 Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana
4 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas
5 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin – Slipstream
6 Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre
7 Alexandre Moos (Swi) BMC Racing Team
8 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Team Saxo Bank
9 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R – La mondiale
10 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Team Katusha all same time.
Dan Fleeman chats to Sean Yates in the Astana team car
Dan Martin looking relaxed earlier in the stage, where he would later come fifth
Gregory Rast still in the lead
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Romandie stage one: Serrano hold off the sprinters
Stage one photo gallery, by Graham Watson
Prologue: Rabon wins Romandie prologue
Prologue photo gallery, by Graham Watson