Tour de Romandie Stage 2: Alaphilippe on the Podium
Julian Alaphilippe continues to be a protagonist in the peloton, as he finished 3rd in the 166.1km group arrival of Tour de Romandie Stage 2 on Wednesday. Tony Martin did an outstanding job bringing back breakaways in the final kilometers, and then keeping the French rider at the front of the peloton inside the final kilometer of the race. Rigoberto Uran also helped his 22-year-old temmate as his final leadout man.
Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) won the stage. Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) was 2nd.
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) suffered a mechanical in a key moment in the leader's jersey and was unable to rejoin the peloton. As a result, Albasini is now the race leader. Alaphilippe is currently the top rider in the GC for Etixx - Quick-Step, in 10th place (+20"). Uran and Martin are 11th and 12th (+24").
The breakaway was caught with 22.7km to go, but attacks continued. Rein Taaramae (Astana) was the last rider able to get a gap on the field, but he was brought back with 2.4km remaining. Martin was a key rider in controlling the race and putting Alaphilippe into good position. Alaphilippe launched his sprint after a leadout from Uran in the top 5 positions of the peloton.
Alaphilippe was 2nd in both La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, both held within the past week.
Etixx - Quick-Step looks next to Stage 3 on Thursday. Stage 3 is up-and-down, with four categorized climbs to deal with in the 172.5km stage. However, the summit of the final categorized climb is at 25.1km to go and then there is flat or descending roads leading into the finishing straight, which is slightly uphill at 2.25% gradient.
"It was a good day for me and the team," Alaphilippe said. "Early on in the race some guys of the peloton came up to tell me congratulations for my results in the Ardennes Classics. That was a great moment, to have riders like Simon Gerrans approach me with encouragement. Concerning the stage, in the last climb I suffered but I was able to pass with the peloton. I was then in front with Tony and Rigo. Tony did an unbelievable job as my 'pilot' in the last kilometers. I did my sprint and I didn't make it. But OK, I'm 3rd. To be honest I'm really happy because it means after a hard week in the Ardennes I still have the top condition. So I am probably recovering well after the last race on Sunday. This motivates me to keep going. This is another podium in another important race. But this year is really about discovering everything, from the different races to the kinds of parcours. I am super happy about how I'm doing so far and what I'm learning. I'm enjoying my time at Tour de Romandie, that is for sure."