Ilnur Zakarin was demoted from stage victory after an irregular sprint ahead Quintana, as the pair duelled it out on the summit finish to Morgins on stage two
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) took the overall lead at the Tour de Romandie after stage two, and was awarded the stage victory despite finishing second to defending champion Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) on the finish to Morgins.
The Colombian looked to be supporting his teammate Ion Izagirre as the bunch rode the final climbs of the day, but made an attack with 6.5km to go from the leading group which no-one was immediately able to follow.
Russian climber Zakarin was the first to make chase in earnest, and quickly caught Quintana, with the pair then teaming up to put time into the riders behind as the slopes flattened.
Having taken turns all the way to the finishing bends of the ski resort, the pair then duelled it out in a sprint finish for the line, where there was some controversy as Zakarin looked to move off his sprinting line, with visible protests from Quintana as his rival raised his arms in victory.
Quintana was awarded the stage victory shortly afterwards with the race jury ruling that Zakarin moved off his line.
The next group in behind the pair, which contained the likes of Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and race leader Izagirre, finished 26 seconds behind.
Froome, who has won the Tour de Romandie twice in his career, appeared to puncture on the slopes of the category two climb of Les Champs with 20km to go.
The two-time Tour de France champion was given a wheel by his teammate Mikel Nieve., and appeared to be catching back on to the back of main field with 17km remaining, before quickly being dropped as the pace increased and falling out of overall contention as he finished over 17 minutes down.
Sky’s second card in the race, Geraint Thomas, appeared to be going well on the final category one climb to Morgins, but was unable to stick with the pace after Quintana’s attack, eventually crossing the line 57 seconds behind; 58 down on GC.
The day’s main break had consisted seven riders, Egor Silin (Katusha), Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge), Fumiyuki Beppu (Trek-Segafredo), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Marcel Wyss (IAM Cycling) and Jaco Venter (Dimension Data), establishing a five minute maximum gap.
They never looked to be in contention for the win however, with only 1-23 in hand as they hit the bottom of Les Champs at 158.5km gone.
They were then quickly whittled down to three, Wyss, Impey and Silin, before they were caught by Cannondale duo Joe Dombrowski and Pierre Rolland, who had attacked off the front of the bunch.
Eventually, and after further attacks on the descent towards the foot of the final climb, the peloton came together to fight it out for the win on the second stage of the race, where Quintana ended the day on top.
Friday’s third stage will see the riders take on a 15.11km individual time trial in Sion, which will be a test with a tricky climb to navigate en route to the finish.
Tour de Romandie 2016 stage two, Moudon – Morgins (173.9k)
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, in 4-48-40
2. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha, same time
3. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida, at 26 secs
4. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale
5. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ
6. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Movistar
7. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff
8. Mathias Frank (Sui) IAM Cycling
9. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale
10. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha, all same time
19. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky, at 57 secs
99. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky, at 17-30
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, in 7-02-05
2. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha, at 18 secs
3. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Movistar, at 20s
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, at 32s
5. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida, at 36s
6. Mathias Frank (Sui) IAM Cycling, at 37s
7. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha, at 42s
8. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Cannondale, at 43s
9. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 44s
10. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale, at 46s
14. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky, at 58 secs