Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) won the second stage of the Tour de Romandie solo, with over two minutes lead over Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida) and Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R La Mondiale) who battled it out in a sprint for second and third respectively.
The 174km second stage from Delémont proved a perfect springboard for De Gendt, who had tried and failed to form a break the previous day.
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The stage featured two classified climbs – including the category two Col des Etroits – but from 110km the peloton was greeted by a long descent, rolling hills and a flat finish in Yverdon les Bains.
Whilst De Gendt managed to stay away, his breakaway companions fell back to the peloton, leaving the gates open for a sprint for second and allowing Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo) to maintain his lead over the general classification with Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) second and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) third.
How it happened
Just four kilometres after the peloton rolled out of Delémont, seven riders made an attempt to break from the grasps of the peloton. They were quickly rounded up, but at seven kilometres a much more dangerous group was allowed to fly loose.
Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) and team mate Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Soudal) rode away from the bunch, alongside Andriy Grivko (Astana), Nathan Brown (EF-Education First) and Matteo Fabbro (Katusha-Alpecin).
The best placed rider from within that group was Brown, who following stage one sat in position 39 on general classification, 28 seconds down on leader Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo).
The five approached the first climb of the day – Col des Rangiers – together. By the peak of the ascent, at just 11.5km they had gained a gap of 2-38, with De Gendt sweeping up the maximum mountains classification points, Campenaerts second and Brown third.
The breakaway effort ended abruptly for Fabbro at 63km, as a mechanical saw him drop from the group, reducing them to a quartet that managed to gain a lead of 7-20 by 84km.
Come the slopes of the Cat 2 climb, Col des Etrois, the pace proved to be too high for Grivko, who at 105km drifted from his breakaway companions.
De Gendt was the first over the line, sweeping up the mountains points, though not enough to shift Marco Minnaard (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) from the top spot overall in the climber’s competition.
The remaining trio continued to work together, and though the gap was sinking, at 5-48 with 48km to go, they still had a significant buffer.
In the final 30km, Campenaerts (Lotto Soudal) left his team mate to finish the job, with Brown dropping from De Gendt not long after – allowing the Belgian breakaway specialist to make his way to the finish line alone.
In the peloton behind, Bahrain–Merida and Team Sky sat close to the fore, pushing the pace to reduce the gap. However, whilst the other breakaway riders were swept up, there seemed to be no stopping De Gendt who held a lead of 3 minutes as he entered the 5km to go mark.
De Gendt, who tried and failed to jump from the front with Lucas Hamilton (Mitchelton-Scott) and Pavel Sivakov (Team Sky) during the course of stage one, needed to finish 3-11 up on former leader Roglič to take the win.
However, with the peloton behind accelerating in anticipation of a battle for the second and third spots on the podium, his gap dropped to 2-04 – leaving Roglič in the leader’s jersey entering stage three’s 10km up-hill time trial, with Rohan Dennis (BMC) in second overall and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) moving in to third, just four seconds adrift.
Tour de Romandie, stage two: Delémont to Yverdon les Bains, 174km
1. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 4-03-05
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 02-04
3. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
4. Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
5. Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step Floors
6. Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
7. Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky
8. Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky
9. Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
10. Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ, all same time
General classification after stage two
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo 8-14-25
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team
3. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 4s
4. Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky 5s
5. Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, at same time
6. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 8s
7. Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky 10s
8. Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale, at same time
9. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 13s
10. José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin, at same time