Albasini grabs eighth as the breakaway stays clear at the Tour de RomandieThu 2 May 2019
The sprinter’s teams missed the opportunity for a rare chance of victory at the Tour de Romandie as the breakaway succeeded on stage two in Switzerland.
Veteran Michael Albasini got amongst the sprint for the minor places to take eighth on the day while Australian Damien Howson rolled home safely in the bunch to preserve his top 10 place on the general classification.
Despite another lumpy day in prospect, the day was billed as an opportunity for the sprinters to have a crack at glory, and with that in mind six riders slipped up the road to form the breakaway, with peloton content let them open up a maximum gap of five minutes.
That advantage was soon capped at around the three and half minutes mark, with Team Jumbo-Visma controlling the tempo at the head of the bunch for race leader Primoz Roglic.
The major test of the day was the Col du Mollendruz, a second category climb that topped out with 75-kilometres still left to race. The escapees passed over the summit with their advantage intact, but an increase in the pace behind saw the time gap begin to fall.
As the bunch passed through the finish line for the first time the gap was down to just two and a half minutes with the sprinter’s teams starting to contribute to the chase. The escapees’ numbers dropped to three on the final categorised climb of the day and the trio soon began to attack one another.
It was local man Stefan Kung (Groupama – FDJ) who went solo from the break inside the final 20-kilometres and with an advantage of over one minute heading into the final 10-kilometres there was panic amongst the sprinter’s teams back in the peloton.
As the chase faltered, Kung continued to hold his advantage over the peloton with their efforts halted as they appeared to accept defeat. With teh pace knocked off in the bunch, Kung soloed to victory while Albasini mixed it in the sprint for second, taking eighth place.
"Today wasn’t a big opportunity for me, so eighth is ok. Being in the breakaway would have been my best chance, but we saw that it was more likely to end in a sprint, so we didn’t push to get in the breakaway."
"The kick for second wasn't a full on one, so I was able to stay up there because of positioning, but most of the fast guys were still in front of me."
"So for tomorrow, I need a different scenario for a top result, but for sure, the first goal will be to make sure Damo keeps his position on the GC."
Tour de Romandie Stage 2 Results:
1. Stefan Kung (Groupama - FDJ) 4:10:59
2. Sam Bennett (BORA - hansgrohe) +00:59
8. Michael Albasini (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
Tour de Romandie General Classification after Stage 2:
1. Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) 8:32:13
2. Rui Costa (UAE-Team Emirates) +0:10
9. Damien Howson (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:18
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.