A reduced bunch sprint decides stage one of the Tour of Romandie

Wed 25 Apr 2018

Mitchelton-SCOTT placed just inside the top 20 on the first road stage of the Tour of Romandie today, after the peloton split and a reduced bunch battled it our for the stage honours into Delemont.

After the main breakaway of the day was reeled in with 10kilometres to go, multiple attacks came but inside the final 500metres, the front bunch was altogether again and a sprint finish concluded the day with Omar Fraile (Astana) coming out on top and Damien Howson the highest finisher for the team in 19th place.

Early breakaway 

In the opening 15kilometres of the fairly short 166kilometre stage, five riders established the main breakaway of the day and rode out to a maximum advantage of five minutes. Team Sunweb, the race leaders controlled the distance to the breakaway for much of the stage, slowly reeling the group back in.

By the time the race approached the final categorised climb of the day, riders began to attack from the peloton and their leaders advantage reduced to just one minute 30seconds.

Lucas Hamilton was active towards the front of the peloton on the final climb, following moves as the breakaway began to fragment and likewise the main peloton.

Last chance attacks

With 15kilometres to go, just two of the original breakaway riders remained in front until their efforts from the day were over and they were swallowed up by the reduced bunch with just 10kilometres left.

Multiple attacks came from the group, which was now down to approximately 40riders and with four kilometres to go, Alexy Gougeard (AG2R) broke away solo from the peloton.

It came down to the final 500metres before Gougeard was caught and the bunch began the sprint for the stage victory. 

Damien Howson

“Today was pretty controlled stage, Team Sunweb committed to the chase pretty much immediately after Michael Mathews took the leaders jersey yesterday. There was about 40 or 50 riders contesting a sprint in the final, and it was a pretty grippy day. 

“They rode the climbs pretty hard and there was a bit of wind but all our guys were helping each other out and we had good numbers coming into the finish with about five of us there.

“We made a few attacks of our own in the final knowing that we didn’t have a sprinter to win the stage. Then the finish was quite scrappy with mostly climbers left to contest the sprint. Tomorrows stage is most likely a bunch sprint again but with an uphill start.”

Lucas Hamilton

“It was a pretty tough solid first stage. We were just sitting pretty most of the day until the final circuits where the guys did a good job to make sure the whole team was in position both times up the big climb. 

“I followed a move early on the last time up the climb but with a block headwind and with a strong controlled group behind, it didn’t go very far. In the final 10km everyone was aggressive which was the plan so I think after a tough day we still were all up there so good signs for the week ahead.

Tour of Romandie results:

1. Omar Fraile (Astana) 4:03:42
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) ST
3. Rui Costa (UAE) ST
19. Damien Howson (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST

General classification after stage 1:

1. Primo Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) 4:09:16
2. Rohan Dennis (BMC) ST
3. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) +0:04
18. Rob Power (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:17

Photo courtesy of Getty Images