Dennis Second and Porte Tenth on GC After Fast Finale to Tour de Romandie Stage 125. April 2018, Delémont (SUI) — Road Team
With over 2000m of climbing, Tour de Romandie stage 1 was a sign of what's to come over the next few days in Switzerland and saw Rohan Dennis and Richie Porte move into second and tenth respectively on the General Classification after a reduced bunch sprint for the line.
There were two categorized climbs to cover in the first half of the 166.6km course before the race headed down into the finish town of Delémont for two laps of a 29.5km circuit which included a tough second-category climb, Le Sommet, and an uphill drag to the line.
Five riders went clear in the opening kilometers of racing and built up an advantage that was sitting at over five minutes by the time they reached the bottom of the 4.3km ascent to the town of Lignières, which had an average gradient of 8.3%.
On the slopes of the climb, the peloton was able to shave one minute off the lead of the breakaway. However the gap started to rise once again on the Col de Pierre Pertuis and as the leaders headed over the top and onto the fast descent, the peloton was trailing by almost six minutes.
The chase began to heat up at the start of the first local lap and approaching the 50km to go mark the gap had fallen by two minutes with race leader at the start of the day, Michael Matthews’ Team Sunweb teammates continuing to set the pace at the front of the bunch.
At the start of the final lap, the leaders were still holding onto a three-minute advantage but this quickly began to tumble as the race intensified and riders began to drop back on the second ascent of the 6.19km Le Sommet climb, which had a gradient of 9% in places.
The two remaining leaders went over the top of the category two climb with 18.4km to go and as they began the final run into the line, the peloton was closing in with the gap falling to less than one minute just a handful of kilometers later.
After several bursts of acceleration, the heavily reduced main bunch, which included Dennis, Porte, and Tejay van Garderen, had the leaders in its sights before Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale), the last man standing, was finally caught just before the flamme rouge.
It was a fast and furious run into the line with a late attack from Rudy Molard (FDJ) swept up as the riders hit full speed on the home straight in preparation for the final sprint which was eventually won by Omar Fraile (Astana Pro Team).
Dennis was BMC Racing Team’s first rider across the line, finishing just outside the top ten in 12th place and moving up into second on the General Classification with the same time as Primož Roglič (Team LottoNL-Jumbo), who inherited the yellow jersey.
Porte and van Garderen also finished safely in the reduced main bunch with the defending champion now sitting 10th overall, 13 seconds back heading into stage 2 tomorrow.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
“I had some ups and down today. On the first climb, I felt really good and then I hit a bit of a rough patch. But, on the last lap I felt good. I felt more comfortable on the climbs than in the lead up to them actually and I still felt like I had good legs for the final sprint. But, it wasn’t meant to be for me today.”
“I think tomorrow's course is a little bit easier and guys like Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) and Michael Albasini (Mitchelton-SCOTT) should get to the finish. I thought they would today and from what I heard Matthews nearly made it back on at the end. Tomorrow will be a stage where we need to save energy in order to do as well as possible on the uphill time trial.”
“It was a hot day with a few hard climbs so it was nice to come through that in the front group. There are some guys going strong here but it was a good day to test where the legs are at. I felt quite good and a few of the guys did a good job at keeping me out of trouble. I think tomorrow will be another hard day. A bit more order has been established in the GC now so we will try to get through tomorrow as best we can as Friday is the big day.”
Tour de Romandie
Stage 1: Fribourg > Delémont, 166.6km
Top 3: 1. Omar Fraile (Astana Pro Team) 2. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team) 3. Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 12. Rohan Dennis 39. Tejay van Garderen 48. Richie Porte