Sonny Colbrelli managed to hold off a fast-finishing Patrick Bevin to take stage two of the Tour de Romandie 2021 and moves him up to fifth overall with Rohan Dennis keeping the overall lead.
Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) managed to hold on over six very tough climbs to go for the sprint into Saint-Imier. Bevin (Israel Start-Up Nation) also looked very strong and almost pipped the Italian sprinter on the line but Colbrelli held on.
Bevin’s second place means he moves above both Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte (both Ineos Grenadiers) in the general classification to slot into second overall with third place Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates) moving up to sixth in the GC.
Dennis held on to his yellow jersey despite working for the final 17km for his leaders of Thomas and Porte where he needed to pull back attacks from the likes of Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) and Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation).
How it happened
The second stage of the Tour de Romandie started in the town of La Neuveville before tackling six categorised climbs over 165.7km with a descent to the finish in Saint-Imier.
Much like stage one, a six-man breakaway got away with six very strong riders that pulled out a maximum gap of 2-46 back to the peloton.
The six riders up front were Antwan Tolhoek (Jumbo-Visma), Davide Villella (Movistar), Rein Taaramäe (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Jonathan Caicedo (EF-Nippo), Chris Hamilton (DSM) and Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain Victorious).
Once again, Ineos Grenadiers had complete control of the peloton as well as the overall standings going into stage two. Eddie Dunbar, Andrey Amador and Owain Doull were doing all the early work for their leaders.
Taaramäe went on a solo attack just before the second of three passages of the finish line in Saint-Imier before hitting the penultimate climb of the day, Les Pontins which was a very steep climb of just under 5km. The gap had dropped down to 1-17 at the base of the climb thanks to Ineos using the descent to pull the gap back with 46km to go.
Ineos slowed up on the climb as Taaramäe continued to push on alone. He quickly pulled out a very solid gap. He got a gap of 2-10 over the peloton and about 30 seconds to his chasers. The Estonian held 33 seconds over the top of Les Pontins.
Birthday-boy Tolhoek lost touch with the chasing group on the climb and started to head back towards the peloton. He was caught by a fast-moving peloton with 37km to go with 2-17 being the gap up to Taaramäe.
The chasing group was caught by a charging Ineos with 28km to go as Taaramäe continued to lead by 1-50 before the final climb of the day. The first category one climb of the race, the Vue des Alpes.
With 25km to go Ineos were joined by Qhubeka-Assos and Bahrain Victorious. The pace continued to ride with Israel Start-Up Nation and Jumbo-Visma also joining the pacing. The pace change meant that stage one winner Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) was dropped with 22km to go along with Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal).
Taaramäe was caught with 21km to go as Team DSM took over the pacing for their main riders. Ineos continued to look strong at the front just behind the leading riders from DSM. Ilan Van Wilder (DSM) kicked with Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation), Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ) and Ben O’Connor (Ag2r-Citroën).
Dennis was forced to chase for Thomas and Porte so Woods countered with Elissonde and Kuss with 19km to go. But again, Dennis was just keeping calm and setting a very solid pace to pull it back.
Colbrelli managed to get over the top of the final climb led by Dennis with Thomas and Porte on the wheel with 16km to go in a very reduced group. Pernsteiner joined Dennis at the front to work for Colbrelli in the closing 6km.
O’Connor tried to get away in the last 2km but Dennis closed it down immediately but Dennis caused a gap with Thomas alongside him but Woods managed to drag it back as Bahrain Victorious up as they went under the Flamme Rouge.
GC riders Jack Haig and Damiano Caruso (both Bahrain Victorious) led Colbrelli out with Caruso doing the last sprint to the line for his fast man, positioning him perfectly and pinning Bevin in a bit so he had to sprint the long way around the Italian.
Colbrelli’s win sees him move to fifth overall with Bevin slotting in at second just eight seconds behind the overall leader, Dennis. Hirschi also gained some bonus seconds seeing him go in at sixth place.
Dennis still holds the overall lead with Thomas and Porte still very well placed for the upcoming mountain stage on Saturday. But stage three is to come first with a loop ride from and to Estravayer over lumpy terrain but an expected sprint after 168.7km.
Tour de Romandie 2021 stage two, La Neuveville to Saint-Imier (165.7km)
1. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious. in 4-21-42
2. Patrick Bevin (NZl) Israel Start-Up Nation
3. Marc Hirschi (Sui) UAE Team Emirates
4. Clément Champoussin (Fra) Ag2r-Citroën Team
5. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
6. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) Team DSM
8. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
9. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates
10. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar Team, all at same time.
General classification after stage two
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers, in 8-39-48
2. Patrick Bevin (NZl) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 8 seconds
3. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 9s
4. Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers
5. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious, all at same time
6. Marc Hirschi (Sui) UAE Team Emirates, at 11s
7. Jasús Herrada (Esp) Cofidis, at 14s
8. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 15s
9. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 16s
10. Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) Team DSM, at the same time.