Zurich : Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) added to his portfolio of breakaway wins on stage 2 of the Tour de Romandie, going clear in the opening kilometres with four others before dropping them all in turn to celebrate a solo victory in Yverdon-les-Bains.
Sonny Colbrelli, whose Bahrain-Merida teammates had led a panicked chase, took second place from the bunch, which came in just over two minutes down, while Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R La Mondiale) finished third.
De Gendt, one of a dying breed of breakaway specialists, once again showed himself to be adroit in picking out the right days and moves. Thursday’s 174km trip from Delémont to Yverdon-les-Bains was, on paper, the only real chance for the sprinters at the Tour de Romandie, but an upset was on the cards when the Belgian went clear on the early climb of the Col des Rangiers with Nathan Brown (EF-Drapac), Andrey Grivko (Astana), and Matteo Fabbro (Katusha), and - crucially - his own teammate Victor Campenaerts.
As the roads undulated over the subsequent 80 kilometres, the gap back to the peloton yawned out to nearly eight minutes, and once up and over the second-category Col des Etroits - where Grivko was dislodged - they took to the undulating 35km finishing circuit with a lead of five minutes. For reference, De Gendt had predicted at the start of the day that two minutes might suffice at that point.
After burying himself for his teammate, Campenaerts was soon dropped, while De Gendt made use of the second of three uncategorised climbs to drop Brown with 25km remaining.
From there, with the gap still at well over four minutes, victory was pretty much a formality, though it remained to be seen if the leader’s jersey would change hands. De Gendt had started the day just over three minutes down on Primoz Roglic’s (LottoNL-Jumbo) overall lead and the GC teams committed riders to the cause in the latter stages, though the greater threat was probably Brown, who’d started the day just 26 seconds down. In the end, the American was caught in the final kilometre.
Roglic, therefore, retains the yellow jersey ahead of Friday’s stage 3 time trial, with little change at the top of the standings. Rohan Dennis (BMC) is tied for time with the Slovenian, with Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) third at four seconds. The only change to the top 10 saw Sky’s Jonathan Castroviejo drop out, and Pierre Rolland (EF-Drapac), Richie Porte (BMC), and Jose Goncalves (Katusha-Alpecin) all move one spot up.