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Thursday, April 27, 2023

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Tour de Romandie stage one reports

We posted the report from stage winner and new GC leader Ethan Vernon's Team Soudal Quick-Step with the results.

Here's the report from second-place Thibau Nys' Team Trek-Segafredo:

A promising start for Thibau Nys at his debut WorldTour stage race with the Belgian sprinting to second on stage one in Switzerland.

Only Ethan Vernon (Soudal – Quick-Step) was stronger than Nys today with the 20-year-old rider making his move up the right-hand side of the peloton with, what looked like, relative ease before a powerful final effort to the line.

Ethan Vernon was the day's fastest rider. Sirotti photo

Jacopo Mosca was also in the mix during the hectic finish and rounded out the top five with his own solid sprint finish (must be all that road sign sprinting with Elisa!).

Thibau’s reaction:
“I’m a little bit disappointed because I felt like I had the legs to win but in a sprint like this with full tailwind and a little bit downhill, once you are up to speed it’s so hard to close the gap to someone. It’s a bit of a shame as I felt really good.

“The final was really tricky to get into position, but I got some really good help from the team to get me to the front and then it was a matter of choosing the right wheel.

“I can’t complain about my sprint, I was really good and the power was there. I think I was just one or two places too far back when the sprint launched to go for the win but this is still a nice result to start with here.

“We will see what happens tomorrow. Today I felt good on the climb and I think I was one of the only fast guys still there so, if I have another day like this tomorrow, then it looks very promising. But I think I will feel these efforts tomorrow.”

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Here’s the Romandie Tour report from fourth-place Romain Bardet’s Team DSM:

After yesterday’s short opening prologue blast, the Tour de Romandie peloton were in action for the first open road stage of the race this afternoon. Faced with an intriguing route, the profile was dominated by a tricky climb in the middle of the day before another climb and a plateau of around 40 kilometres to the finish.

Here's the stage one profile.

The team rode well as a unit after the breakaway had formed in the early stages but as the peloton approached the main climb the gap tumbled to those ahead as an infernal pace was set. Niklas Märkl and Marco Brenner stuck with sprint finisher Alberto Dainese and they tried their best as part of a group to come back to the head of the race after losing contact on the climb, but unfortunately the pace remained high and the elastic snapped. In the peloton the guys rallied around Romain Bardet, and worked well as a group coming into the technical finale as the race charged towards a reduced bunch sprint. With some good positioning work by Max Poole and Chris Hamilton, it was over to Oscar Onley who did a strong turn in the closing kilometre and brought Bardet into a place where he could sprint for a result. Showing the speed and explosiveness in his legs, Bardet kicked strongly and sprinted to a great fourth place; just a fraction of a wheel length behind the podium on the day.

Speaking after the stage Bardet said: “It was a really good first road stage with the boys, we really worked super well together. We split in two groups on the climb, as Niklas and Marco tried to bring Alberto back after a fast climb halfway through the race but unfortunately they couldn’t make it. In the finale we held a really good position allowing me to sprint for a nice result after a really good lead out by Oscar. It’s a really positive day and we’re looking forward to the next stages.”

Team DSM coach Phil West added: “It was a good day for us. We started the day with the goals of protecting Romain for GC and to go for the stage result with Alberto as our finisher. We knew that it would be a difficult stage but when he could get over the climbs in a good way then we believed he had a good chance. INEOS made a really difficult tempo to try and isolate the sprinters and they almost dropped all of them except one or two. We had Marco and Niklas together with Alberto but unfortunately they couldn’t come back. In the final we focused on positioning really well to take care of Romain in the tricky final. Through some good teamwork and positioning he was then able to give it a good go in the sprint and came away with a nice result for us. It’s a good start for the first road stage and we’ll look to continue that tomorrow.”

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Here's the stage one report from Team Groupama-FDJ:

In the aftermath of the opening prologue, stage 1 of the Tour de Romandie turned out to be relatively calm for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team on Wednesday. At Chenit, in the Vallée de Joux, almost the entire team finished in a slightly reduced peloton while Ethan Vernon won the final sprint. The second stage towards La Chaux-de-Fonds on Thursday should be livelier.

Ethan Vernon will start stage two in yellow. Sirotti photo

From Crissier, on Lausanne’s northern suburbs, the peloton set off on Wednesday for a 170-kilometre first stage to the Vallée de Joux, on the Franco-Swiss border. In this day made for the fast men, the breakaway was established immediately after the start with five men: Tobias Bayer (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo), Michael Schär (AG2R Citroën), Dario Lillo and Jan Stöckli (Switzerland). The bunch, however, left very little room for the day’s attackers and barely gave them a two-minute lead. The gap further decreased passing the two main climbs located before the halfway point. “Ineos wanted to test the sprinters, and they succeeded,” said Jussi Veikkanen. “The sprinters were dropped one after the other. Lewis was also distanced at this point in the race. It’s a pity because we planned to go for him on two stages, especially today. He also wanted to give it a go, unfortunately he could not follow the main peloton”.

Like some thirty men, including the major sprinters, the British sprinter did not manage to re-join the bunch that kept on going at a solid pace. The day’s breakaway was also caught seventy-three kilometres from the finish, and no particular movement then unfold during the race. “The peloton continued at a steady pace and it all finished in a sprint, with our six other riders up front”, added Jussi. “There is not much else to say, except that the landscapes were beautiful and that the weather was nice (smiles)”. In the sprint, Enzo Paleni tried to follow the wheels and eventually entered the day’s top-20 (17th). The race scenario should be quite different on Thursday towards La Chaux-de-Fonds with three climbs in the last thirty kilometres. “The start is in Morteau, in France”, recalled Jussi. “We also know the final. I raced it myself back in the day. It’s hilly and not easy. There can be some action and we have to take part in it”.

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And here's the report from Tobias Foss' Team Jumbo-Visma:

Team Jumbo-Visma has made it through the second day of the Tour de Romandie without any problems. As expected, the first stage after yesterday’s prologue ended in a bunch sprint. Tobias Foss crossed the finish line safely and is now third in the general classification.

Tobias Foss (shown at the 2022 Giro d'Italia) is now sitting in third place in the GC. Sirotti photo

The 170-kilometre stage featured three climbs and dozens of flat kilometres before the finish in Vallée de Joux. Five escapees were quickly caught, and Team Jumbo-Visma took the lead in the peloton. Foss, second in yesterday’s prologue, started today in the orange sprinter’s jersey and showed why.

An intermediate sprint sixteen kilometres from the finish was right up the alley of the world time trial champion. Unfortunately, there were no bonus seconds to be gained here. “Well, at least we tried. If you are allowed to wear the sprinter’s jersey, you have to show it”, Foss joked.

The Norwegian is currently third in the general classification and is happy with the first two days of the Swiss stage race. “I’m surprising myself a bit here so far. I’m feeling good. We will take it one day at a time.” Tomorrow, the riders will have to finish a challenging stage with many altimeters at the end. “I expect there will be some differences in the general classification tomorrow. At the moment, we are in good shape”, sports director Merijn Zeeman concluded.

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