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Having anticipated Matthews, Sagan held Richeze and Matthews off in the bunch sprint on stage 2 of the Tour de Suisse to take his 12th stage win in the race; a split in the finale means that Roelandts is the new leader

Photo: Tinkoff












12.06.2016 @ 17:49 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) continued his love affair with the Tour de Suisse when he rode to an impressive sprint win on the second stage of the race. Having latched onto the Orica-GreenEDGE train, he anticipated Michael Matthews and held off Maximilano Richeze (Etixx-QuickStep) and the Australian to take the 12th win in the race. A split in the finale caught out race leader Fabian Cancellara (Trek) and so Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) now has a 1-second advantage over the Swiss in the overall standings.


Peter Sagan made his debut at the Tour de Suisse during his neo-pro season in 2010. He finished fourth in the prologue but already left the race before the second stage. However, apart from that ill-fated debut, the Slovakian has been unstoppable in the Swiss race which has been his happiest hunting ground.


Sagan went into this year’s race with 11 stage wins in the race, having taken a win in every edition since 2011. The many lumpy finishing circuits in the race often give rise to reduced bunch sprints and this has suited the world champions excellently.


After a bad prologue, Sagan had a second chance to add to his tally in today’s first road stage which was held on a hilly circuit around Baar. He didn’t disappoint as he rode to a very convincing sprint win when it all came down to the expected bunch kick.


It had been a relatively controlled stage in the rain and the early break was brought back shortly after the final passage of the only climb on the circuit with around 30km to go. Branislau Samoilau (CCC) had made a bit for freedom and Lotto Soudal was chasing when the race kicked into life.


That happened when pre-race favourite Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep) hit the deck in a solo crash. Luckily he was unhurt and after a quick bike change, he could start his chase behind the peloton with some help from Rodrigo Contreras. Meanwhile, Vanendert rode on the front for Lotto Soudal and brought Samoilau back.


Disaster struck for Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) who was involved in a crash that also saw Matteo Bono (Lampre), Dylan Teuns (BMC) and Laurens Ten Dam (Giant-Alpecin) come down. It took a long time to get back on his bike and he faced a long chase as Vanendert was going full gas on the front to keep things together for the intermediate sprint.


Katusha also came to the fore with Sven-Erik Bystrøm and he traded pulls with Vanendert for a short while. However, it was all left to the Belgian as they entered the final 20km. At this point, Gaviria was back in the peloton while Talansky was still chasing with teammates Toms Skujins, Kristijan Koren and Davide Villella one minute behind the peloton.


Jelle Wallays took over the pace-setting for Lotto Soudal but it was now a big fight for position. Sky won the battle and it was Vasil Kiryienka who led the peloton under the 15km to go banner.


Pim Ligthart and Tosh van der Sande did the lead-out for Jurgen Roelandts for the sprint but they were passed by jasper Stuyven who was there to support Cancellara. It came down to a close battle between the pair but the Swiss narrowly edged out the Belgian to increase his lead to 2 seconds. Stuyven was third.


Cancellara briefly tried a solo attack but as Tinkoff gathered their troops on the front, he was quickly brought back. Meanwhile, Talansky ended his chase as he rejoined the peloton with 9km to go.


Ivan Rovny started to ride on the front for Tinkoff but they drifted backwards when Kiryienka took over for Sky. They lost control with 5km to go when Orica-GreenEDGE hit the front with Sam Bewley, Christopher Juul, Mathew Hayman, Michael Abasini and Michael Matthews.


Juul took over with four kilometres to go while the Etixx riders gathered next to the Orica train. He stayed there for two kilometres until Hayman was next to set the pace.


The Paris-Roubaix winner kept riding on the front until Iljo Keisse came to the fore for Etixx-QuickStep. However, he had lost his teammates in the chaos and when he swung off, it was Albasini who took charge for Orica-GreenEDG.


The Swiss rode so fast through a turn that a gap opened up behind the local hero, Magnus Cort, Matthews, Sagan, Maximilano Richeze, Roelandts and Stuyven. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) led the chase as Cancellara also moved to the front in a late attempt to save his yellow jersey.


Cort did a great lead-out for Matthews but the Australian hesitated too much. Sagan anticipated his rival and Richeze could do nothing more than stay on his wheel. Matthews crossed the line in third.


Roelandts finished fifth and as Danny Van Poppel (Sky) led the peloton across the line 3 seconds later, it was enough to take the leader’s jersey. The Belgian now has a one-second advantage over Cancellara while Luke Durbridge is six seconds behind in third.


Roelandts faces another similar stage tomorrow where a flat start lead to a tricky second half. Two climbs precedes a finishing circuit that will be covered twice and includes two short, steep climbs. The final challenge comes with 11.5km to go and then it’s a flat run to the finish.


A hilly circuit race

After yesterday’s prologue , the riders faced a circuit race around the city of Baar. The riders did four laps of a 47.6kmcircuit for an overall distance of 187.6km. It included a category 2 climb with an average gradient of 4.2% over 5.4km. However, the top came with 41km to go and as the rest of the circuit was mainly descending, a reduced bunch sprint was the expected outcome.


Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data) didn’t get far this year's Tour de Suisse as he did not turn up when the rest of the field gathered under a cloudy and rainy sky. With a climb immediately from the start, it was no surprise that there were many attacks from the beginning, but very early Marcel Wyss (IAM), Sebastien Minard (Ag2r), Matthias Křížek (Roth) and Antwan Tolhoek (Roompot) got clear. After 10km of racing, they had a lead of 50 seconds and as the peloton was pleased with the situation, it quickly went out to 2.40.


Trek take control

Unsurprisingly, Trek took responsibility for the pace-setting but they did not chase. After 27km of racing, the advantage had grown to 5.08. However, it was the maximum as Trek had reduced it to 3.40 at the first passage of the finish line.


The lead had dropped to 3.55 when Krizek beat Tolhoek, Minard and Wyss in the first KOM sprint and Trek kept it stable at approximately four minutes for several kilometers. They slowly increased the pace and so the escapees were only 3 minutes ahead after two and a half hour of racing. Meanwhile Tolhoek beat Krizek, Wyss and Minard in the second KOM sprint while Stijn Devolder (Trek) was first from the peloton.


Gesink abandons

While Trek kept the gap at around 3 minutes, Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) was involved in a crash which forced him to abandon. It was Devolder, Gregory Rast and Kiel Reijnen who deid the early work and they slowly reeled the break in. At the 100km mark, the gap was down to 2.15 and it was 1.50 with 65km to go.


Tolhoek tried to win the first intermediate sprint but he reacted too late and failed to pass Wyss in time. Minard rolled across the line in third.


The gap comes down

Rast, Reijnen and Devolder kept the gap at around 1.45 for a long time as the peloton briefly enjoyed dry conditions. However, as they approached the start of the final lap, the fight for position had started and at the passage of the line, the escapees only had an advantage of 1.10.


As they hit the climb for the final time, rain again started to fall but that didn’t stop Wyss from trying to force the pace in the front group. As Krizek and Tolhoek looked at each other in the battle for the KOM sprint, they briefly got dropped but Tolhoek lost the battle and closed the gap,


Krizek takes the mountains jersey

Devolder ended his work and left it to Reijnen and Rast to set the pace. When they swung off, Riccardo Zoidl took over and he slowly reduced the gap to a minute.


Tolhoek and Krizek sprinted for the KOM points and it was the Austrian who won the battle to take the mountains jersey. Wyss rolled across the line in third followed by Minard while the peloton followed just 50 seconds later, led by Laurens De Vreese (Astana).


The attacking starts

As they went down the descent, Frank Schleck came to the fore to work with Zoidl. However, as the fight for position intensified, the Trek riders disappeared and it was the Astana team that hit the front with Laurens De Vreese, Lieuwe Westra and team captain Miguel Angel Lopez. Also Katusha came to the fore, lining up next to the Astana riders.


The battle had reduced the gap to 20 seconds and this opened the door for new attacks. Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal), Kevin Reza (FDJ), Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff) and Branislau Samoilau (CCC) briefly got clear but Sky shut it down with Christian Knees. However, the acceleration ended the day for the break which was brought back.


Samoilau countered the move and as no one reacted, he got an advantage. However, Lotto Soudal quickly came to the fore and started to chase. Moments later, Gaviria hit the deck and this started the exciting finale.



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