Report: Froome comes under attack in the Mountains


Team Sky come under attack on the final climb on stage 2 of the Tour of Romandie but Chris Froome weathers the storm and still leads

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After having to control the race for much of the stage, with Sky setting a fast tempo on the final climb which reduced the numbers in the peloton, race leader Chris Froome and team Sky were unable to prevent a flurry of attacks from his rivals. With Froome temporarily down to just one team-mate in Richie Porte, his rivals were quick to go on the offensive – Robert Kiserlovski (RadioShack-Leopard), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Pierre Rolland (Europcar) all going on the attack heading onto the tricky descent.


Chris Froome in Yellow – Photo:

Things largely came back together (peloton of 83) heading into the finale in Granges for the bunch kick where Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp) went long to take the stage, just, over Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) and stage one winner Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step).

Ramunas Navardauskas talked about his win afterwards saying “Today the team goal was to all help Andrew Talansky so that’s what we did, and he was very strong. On the last mountain I knew it was on me – if I survived I would have the chance to try for myself. I felt good up the climb and over the mountain and then I took my chance. My director told me to go from the last corner so I took position and went as hard as I could.”

“The last meters looked so long! I am very happy and proud that the team had faith in me and took care of me, and that I could pull it off in the end for them.”

Video of the last few kilometres

After the stage, Froome praised the effort of the team, admitting: “Today it was quite a straightforward stage for me just following my team-mates. They did all the work and I was able to stay on their wheel all day. “I definitely felt the pressure on the last climb but I would hope everyone felt the pressure.”

“It was a good solid start from the team. We started off in total control of the race. Even when the attacks came on the final climbs, the guys just stayed calm and we all stayed together. There was a lot of road furniture coming into the finish. The sprinter teams took it up coming into the final. The main thing for us was just to stay out of harm’s way and save the legs for what is coming up.”

A handful of short, sharp climbs were scattered throughout the 190-kilometre run to Granges with the race bathed in bright sunshine as they travelled through the Romandie region. Three strong riders headed up the road as the race departed Prilly with Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM), Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing) and Matthias Brandle (IAM Cycling) combining well. Their lead touched just over four minutes as Team Sky again set about controlling the stage with numbers, Chris Sutton and Pete Kennaugh spending a long period of time on the front to keep the trio in check.


Early break of three. – Photo:

With the break in touching distance, the pace was knocked off in a bid to entice the sprinters’ teams to the head of affairs. Yet, just as on stage one, the day featured a tough climb ahead of the finale, this time in the shape of the steep 7.5km Plagne ascent to test the legs of the sprinters. Josh Edmondson set the tempo on the climb as a number of sprinters, including Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step), were put into difficulties. For the second day in succession, Frenchman Rolland went on the attack bringing Richie Porte, David López and finally BMC Racing to the fore before all hell broke loose.

With 18km to go the big names made their move but, after a short descent, the flat run-in finally created the expected sprint finish where it was Garmin who had the stage win to celebrate. “The difference between us at the finish was two fingers” said second placed Gasparotto (Astana). “No more. I was third into the last corner with 400m to go, and it was my job to work for Gavazzi. But Navardauskas sprinted from 300m, so I jumped on his wheel and tried to pass him for the sprint, but he was too tall”.

Omega Pharma Quickstep’s winner of stage 1 winner Gianni Meersman said of his third place, “It’s a shame that I couldn’t really make the sprint today, because in the last corner a guy came from behind on the inside of the last corner”.


Close close sprint for the line – Photo:

Meersman added “There was some confusion and I had to brake, and other riders near me had to brake. We lost about 10 to 15 meters at that point. But I was still thinking it was possible to win. I did my best but honestly I was too far back at that time. I tried and tried, but I was about one or two meters behind the winner.”

“In any case, even today I had a good feeling in the sprint. The guys did a good job for me and we did a good race tactically. Sometimes it just goes like that. We will try again tomorrow. Maybe there will be a chance for me or somebody else. We will try our best to be there in the final and go for a good result.”

1 NAVARDAUSKAS Ramunas Garmin – Sharp 4:51:49
2 GASPAROTTO Enrico Astana Pro Team @ st
3 MEERSMAN Gianni Omega Pharma – Quick-Step @ st
4 MEZGEC Luka Team Argos – Shimano @ st
5 NERZ Dominik BMC Racing Team @ st
6 GAVAZZI Francesco Astana Pro Team @ st
7 BAKELANTS Jan RadioShack – Leopard @ st
8 CLEMENT Stef Blanco Pro Cycling Team @ st
9 ALBASINI Michael Orica GreenEDGE @ st
10 MORI Manuele Lampre – Merida @ st

29 FROOME Christopher Sky Procycling @ st
140 CAVENDISH Mark Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 11:37
158 BLYTHE Adam BMC Racing Team 11:37
159 KENNAUGH Peter Sky Procycling 11:37

1 FROOME Christopher Sky Procycling 09:34:13
2 TALANSKY Andrew Garmin – Sharp 00:06
3 KISERLOVSKI Robert RadioShack – Leopard 00:13
4 PORTE Richie Sky Procycling 00:15
5 FARIA DA COSTA Rui Alberto Movistar Team 00:16
6 PINOT Thibaut Equipe Cycliste FDJ 00:17
7 CLEMENT Stef Blanco Pro Cycling Team ,,
8 VALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro Movistar Team ,,
9 DANIELSON Thomas Garmin – Sharp ,,
10 KELDERMAN Wilco Blanco Pro Cycling Team 00:18

50 ALBASINI Michael Orica GreenEDGE 00:54
87 EDMONDSON Joshua Sky Procycling 3.52
150 BLYTHE Adam BMC Racing Team 15:32
163 CAVENDISH Mark Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 25:48


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