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Having made it into a 9-rider front group on the final climb, Durasek attacked with 800m to go and managed to keep his chasers at bay to win stage 2 of the Tour de Suisse; Dumoulin retained the yellow jersey

DANIEL MORENO

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JULIAN DAVID ARREDONDO

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KRISTIJAN DURASEK

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TEAM SUNWEB

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TOM DUMOULIN

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TOUR DE SUISSE

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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14.06.2015 @ 18:48 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida) took the biggest win of his career when he emerged as a surprise victor in the very hilly second stage of the Tour de Suisse. The Croatian had made it into a 9-rider group that escaped on the final climb and when he made a solo attack with 800m to go, no one responded, giving him plenty of time to celebrate the win. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) was also part of the group and so defended the overall lead.

 

For several years, Kristijan Durasek has been known as a loyal domestique at the Lampre-Merida team, doing strong work for his captains in the mountains. Apart from taking a big win in the 2013 Tre Valli Varesine, he never got much room to chase personal success.

 

This year things have suddenly changed for the strong Croatian who has suddenly turned into a prolific winner for his Italian team. A few months ago, he won the Tour of Turkey overall which suddenly almost guaranteed him a spot on the Lampre-Merida roster for the Tour de France.

 

However, he still had to confirm his good condition in the Tour de Suisse where he was again given a chance to ride for himself. Despite his good result in Turkey, he had not been mentioned as a potential overall winner but after today’s first road stage of the race the Croatian has suddenly moved himself into a very strong contender.

 

The second stage included two passages of the brutal Michaelskreuz climb and when the dust had settled after the final passage with 12km to go, Durasek was part of a 9-rider group that emerged in the front. As he was not a marked man, he played his cards perfectly to ride away inside the final kilometre and take a hugely surprising solo win.

 

At the bottom of the final climb, Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Luka Pibernik (Lampre-Merida) were the only survivors from an original four-rider breakaway. However, they were losing ground quickly as the peloton was in full speed as they fought for position for the narrow road on the steep slopes and only had a 25-second advantage as they started to climb.

 

Etixx-QuickStep had won the fight and it was Michal Golas who set the pace on the lower slopes before his teammate Gianluca Brambilla. The Italian even got a small gap but he quickly drifted backwards when the GC riders started to play.

 

Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and Julian Arredondo (Trek) were the first to attack and flew past Meyer and Pibernik. Geraint Thomas (Sky) and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) brought them back but the main group had now been whittled down to just those four riders, Sergio Henao (Sky), Ion Izagirre (Movistar), Durasek, Daniel Moreno (Katusha) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r).

 

Simon Spilak (Katusha) had missed the move and he brought a bigger group with the likes of Robert Gesink (LottoNL), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Tom Dumoulin back to the front. However, a relentless Fuglsang gave them no room to recover as he launched an immediate attack, leaving just Thomas, Moreno, Izagirre, Arredondo, Spilak, Pozzovivo and Durasek on his wheel.

 

A second group had gathered while Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) found himself on his own just a few seconds further back. Dumoulin did a great work to bring the second group up to the leaders.

 

The attacking continued when Arredondo took off before Fuglsang countered. Thomas, Spilak, Pinot and Arredondo joined him and later Moreno and Durasek also made it across.

 

A regrouping again took before Thomas made a big move. Only Fuglsang could match his pace until Spilak managed to bridge the gap with a big effort.

 

Durasek was their nearest chaser but he quickly drifted back to a group that included Dumoulin, Moreno, Arredondo, Pinot and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana). However, they were losing ground to the front trio that seemed to be riding away.

 

However, Dumoulin gauged his effort perfectly and as the front trio started to tire, the gap was coming down. When Fuglsang led Thomas and Spilak over the top with 12km to go, the Dutchman and Pinot were first from the chase group just a few seconds later while Ben Hermans (BMC), Sebastien Reichenbach (IAM) and Pozzovivo were a bit further back.

 

The front trio was caught on the descent and it was Fuglsang who set the pace as they went downhill. However, as soon as they hit the flat roads, the attacking started and it was Pinot who made the first move.

 

Thomas joined the Frenchman and later Moreno also made it across. Lopez and Fuglsang worked hard in the chase group and they brought it back together with 6km to go. At this point, Steve Morabito (FDJ), Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE), Gesink, Sagan, Bob Jungels (Trek) and Winner Anacona (Movistar) had caught the Pozzovivo trio but they were now 25 seconds behind.

 

Durasek and Lopez made a small attack before Spilak started to ride on the front. The group was now working well together, with Spilak and Dumoulin both taking huge turns.

 

Pinot unintentionally got a small advantage with 3km to go and was quickly joined by Fuglsang. Spilak brought it back together and when Thomas and Dumoulin got clear, it was Moreno who made sure that the 9 riders stayed together.

 

With less than 2km to go, the game of cat and mouse started and the pace was drastically reduced. Durasek was riding slowly on the front and the Sagan group was now getting closer.

 

With 800m to go, Durasek accelerated while riding on the front and no one responded. He immediately got a big gap and had plenty of time to celebrate his win 4 seconds before Moreno beat Arredondo in the sprint for second. Sagan won the sprint for 10th 10 seconds later.

 

Dumoulin did well to defend his overall lead and even strengthened his position as he now leads Thomas by 7 seconds. He takes that advantage into stage 3 which is a short, intensive affair. Right from the start, the riders will go up the big Gotthardpass before they descend to a flat section. In the finale, they will tackle a category 2 and category 3 climb in quick succession before they hit the final 6km which are slightly rising.

 

A tough stage

After the opening time trial, the riders had to tackle some serious climbing in stage 2 which brought the riders over 161.1km around the city of Rotkreuz. The riders would first tackle two laps of a big circuit that was mostly flat but included a category 2 climb. However, the biggest challenge was the final two laps of a shorter circuit that included the 4km category 1 climb Michaelskreuz which had an average gradient of 9%. The summit was located just 12.7km from the finish and from there it was a short descent and a flat run back to the finish.

 

The riders had dry condition when they gathered for the start in Rotkreuz but thunderstorms had been forecasted for the afternoon, making the riders a bit wary about what to expect. One rider was absent as Javier Moreno (Movistar) had crashed in the prologue and was unable to take the start.

 

The break takes off

As expected the lumpy course invited the riders to take an aggressive approach and so it was a fast start with lots of attacks. As they hit the first climb after just 5km of racing, the first promising move was made by Stijn Devolder (Trek) and Silvan Dillier (BMC) and they quickly got company from Moreno Moser (Cannondale-Garmin). However, they were brought back before they reached the summit and so the attacking continued. Sylwester Szmyd (CCC) was first over the top followed by Axel Domont (Ag2r), Laurent Didier (Trek), Darwin Atapuma (BMC) and Jerome Coppel (IAM).

 

Finally, Luka Pibernik (Lampre-Merida), Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEDGE), Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) and Valerio Agnoli (Astana) got clear and after 23km of fast racing, they had built an advantage of 30 seconds. Simone Antonini (Wanty) and Benjamin King (Cannondale) took off in pursuit but at the 28km mark they were still trailing the leaders by 50 seconds while the peloton was at 1.30.

 

The chasers sit up

The chasers were not really getting any closer and when they reached the 38km mark, they had been distanced by 1.08. At this point, the peloton had lost 2.55.

 

Antonini and King decided to sit up and wait for the peloton which had been distanced by 3.20 as they crossed the finish line for the first time. Moments later they went up the climb for the second time and here Agnoli led Pibernik, Meyer and Roelandts over the top while the peloton followed 3 minutes later., led by Johannes Fröhlinger (Giant-Alpecin)

 

Giant-Shimano in control

The peloton didn’t give the escapees much room and when they entered the final 60km, the gap was still only 2.45. Roelandts beat Pibernik and Meyer in the first intermediate sprint. In the peloton, Giant-Shimano were doing all the work and they had brought the gap down to 2.20 when they started the first of the two laps of the 22km finishing circuit.

 

As the riders approached Michaelskreuz for the first time, the fight for position intensified and it was Astana, Sky, Orica-GreenEDGE, Giant-Alpecin and LottoNL-Jumbo that were lined out on the front. The big fight resulted in a crash that brought down Arnaud Demare (FDJ).

 

The break splits up

As soon as the front group started to climb, Meyer set a fast pace that sent both Agnoli and Roelandts out the back door. In the peloton, the group slowed down as the narrow road meant that the fight for position had stopped, with Sky and Giant-Alpecin riding on the front. Nonetheless, the peloton still exploded to pieces.

 

FDJ took over the pace-setting and it was Matthieu Ladagnous who rode on the front for most of the climb. One of the many riders to get dropped was Fabian Cancellara (Trek).

 

Agnoli is caught

As they approached the summit, Agnoli was brought back and now there was a small fight for position for the descent. Pibernik led Meyer over the top while Roelandts managed to stay clear to take third. Kanstantstin Siutsou (Sky) was first from the peloton, followed by Agnoli who managed to pick up another 2 points.

 

As they went down the descent, the gap was down to 1.40 and it was now Tinkoff-Saxo in control, with Matti Breschel taking some huge turns. He got dome assistance from Giant-Alpecin and when they ccrossed to start the final lap, the gap was only 1.15. Meanwhile, Meyer beat Pibernik in the final intermediate sprint while Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) sprinted ahead to take third.

 

As they approached the final climb, the fight for position was again brutal and it was Ag2r who hit the front with Damien Gaudin. He was passed by Etixx-QuickStep and it was even world champion Michal Kwiatkowski who did a huge work to position his teammates. He swung off just before they hit the lower slopes while Golas took over, setting the scene for the final battle.

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