Impey most combative rider on stage two of the Tour de Romandie

Thu 28 Apr 2016

It was a long 150kilometres in the breakaway for South African time trial champion Daryl Impey on stage two of the Tour de Romandie. The 2014 Tour of Alberta winner got into the early attack and stayed at the head of the race going into the final climb to Morgins.

Impey went with five other riders after only six kilometres of racing had taken place and performed aggressively for the next 150kilometres, winning the award for the day’s most combative rider.

Unfortunately ORICA-GreenEDGE were forced to start stage two with a team reduced in numbers due to a recurring Achilles tendon problem for Jens Keukeleire and illness for Simon Gerrans. Both riders left the race today.

Sport director Neil Stephens praised the gutsy ride by Impey.

“It was a really strong ride by Daryl (Impey) today,” said Stephens. “He got himself in the early move after Christian (Meier) had been pretty active over the first few kilometres and from then on he was always working and riding aggressively.”

“From the team’s perspective it was a great move by Daryl because it meant that we could sit in the bunch for a big chunk of the stage and keep ourselves relatively fresh for the last climbs.

Damien (Howson) did a good job again trying to stay up near the front in the finale,” continued Stephens. “He was just outside the top twenty on the stage and also on the overall. Like we said yesterday this a great experience for the younger guys like Damien and Jack (Haig) and it’s good to see them getting out there and testing themselves.”

How it happened:

For the third day in succession cold temperatures welcomed the riders to the start of stage two of the Tour de Romandie, however the sun was shining brightly and the sky was blue.

A breakaway of six riders formed early in the stage and included South African Impey for ORICA-GreenEDGE. After 40kilometres of racing the group had over three minutes on the peloton.

Seventy kilometres into the race and the Impey group had extended their lead to four minutes as they approached the serious categorised climbs of the day. Impey sprinted to second place to claim six points in the mountains classification and the group of six were now five minutes ahead of the peloton with 74kilometres to go.

The main bunch were led by the Movistar team, gathered around the yellow jersey of race leader Jon Izagirre.

After three hours of racing and with under 50kilometres to go the advantage of the Impey group began to fall. Now down to three minutes 35seconds with the hardest climbs to come – including the summit finish in Morgins – the six leaders were beginning to feel the strain.

The Impey breakaway group began to splinter going onto the penultimate climb with the South African pushing the pace at the front for ORICA-GreenEDGE and Team Sky now involved in the chase behind. The shape of the race was beginning to change with Impey and two companions now only 50seconds ahead of the peloton and 20kilometres left to race.

Pierre Roland and Joe Dombrowski (Team-Cannondale) bridged across to Impey as the trio of leaders crested the penultimate climb.

Impey and Rolland attacked into the descent and attempted to re-establish an advantage over the chasing peloton. The duo maintained around 15seconds over the bunch for a couple of kilometres before being caught with ten kilometres remaining.

The race was completely split apart on the final climb to Morgins with a select group of around thirty riders – including race leader Izagirre – taking control at the head of the race.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) attacked with six kilometres to go and quickly gained 50 metres on the front group. Quintana was followed by Ilnur Zakarin (Team-Katusha) and the two riders tackled the last few kilometres together.

Zakarin held Quintana’s wheel until the last 300metres before launching his sprint for the line. Zakarin held on to take the stage win but not without a little controversy as it appeared that the Russian may have blocked Quintana’s line in the final metres. The result puts Quintana into the race leader's jersey going into stage three.

NB: As we were going to publication news came in that Ilnur Zakarin (Team-Katusha) has been relegated to second place due to an irregular sprint.

The race continues tomorrow with the stage three individual time trial 15.1 kilometres up to the town of Sion.

Tour de Romandie stage two results:

1. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 4:28:40
2. Ilnur Zakarin (Team- Katusha) ST
3. Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) 00:00:26
24. Damien Howson (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 00:01:34 

General classification after stage two:

1. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 7:02:09
2. Ilnur Zakarin (Team-Katusha) 00.00:10
3. Jon Izagirre (Movistar) 00:00:16
22. Damien Howson (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 00:01:45