Bayern Rundfahrt has developed into a total IAM domination after Mathias Frank won today's queen stage just 24 hours after Henrich Haussler's victory in the opening stage. The Swiss emerged as the strongest in the race's first ever summit finish, holding off Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Leopold König (NetApp-Endura)
Yesterday IAM were surprised to win the first sprint stage in the Bayern Rundfahrt as they had brought a team mostly of climbers to the biggest German stage race. Today those climbers followed in the footsteps of Heinrich Haussler when Mathias Frank won the race's queen stage.
In the first ever summit finish of the race, Frank launched a brave attack already 2km from the line. No one was able to respond and he quickly opened a big gap.
Thibaut Pinot set off in pursuit but with 1km to go, the Frenchman was already a massive 18 seconds behind on the short climb. Frank briefly extended his advantage but near the end started to fade a bit.
Pinot had now been joined by Leopold König and the pair worked well together to reduce their time loss. Frank took a big solo victory but Pinot and König followed just 8 seconds later. Romain Bardet (Ag2r), Johann Tschopp (IAM) and Geraint Thomas (Sky) - usually an excellent time trialist - lost 16 seconds, moving Thomas into a prime position to win the race for the second time in his career.
The 164.7km stage from Freilassing to Reit im Winkl Winklmoos-Alm was a hilly affair on constantly rolling roads. The rides went up a big climb at the midpoint of the stage and then faced a small ascent that preceded the summit finish.
The rolling terrain invited to attacks and so it was no surprise that the stage was off to a fast start. After the many early skirmishes and a strong showing by Katusha in controlling the field, four riders took off. Sam Bennett (NetApp), Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEDGE), Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne) and Blel Kadri (Ag2r) managed to build up a gap that reached a maximum of 5.15 after 62km of racing.
Bennett won the first two intermediate sprints and things seemed to be working nicely for the escape group until they hit the first climb. When Meier crested the summit as the first rider, they were only 50 seconds ahead of the splintering peloton.
After 81km of racing, the break was brought back by a bunch that was only made up of around 25 riders. More riders managed to rejoin them but FDJ had no intention of letting up, the French team constantly setting a brutal pace that made it impossible to escape.
Meier attacked to win the second KOM sprint but was soon back in the fold. Pinot crossed the line at the final intermediate sprint ahead of teammates Mattghieau Ladagnous and Arthur Vichot to pick up important bonus seconds.
FDJ kept the pace high until they hit the final climb where Haussler was soon dropped. Sky took over the pace-setting and whittled the group down to just 15 riders when Ben Gasteauer (Ag2r) launched the first attack.
The Ag2r rider was soon brought back and instead Frank made his winning move. Sky led the chase but when Pinot set off in pursuit, the group splintered to pieces.
Frank now takes a 5-second lead over Pinot into tomorrow's third stage which a very long and lumpy affair. The first part contains several big climbs before a long downhill section leads to a few small climbs in the finale.
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