Felline retains lead in brutal Romandie Conditions
Miserable winter-like conditions plagued the peloton for stage two at the Tour de Romandie resulting in a frozen peloton zapped of impetus to catch the last remnants of the day's breakaway
While Stefan Küng (BMC) won a two-up battle for the stage honors, Fabio Felline arrived with the bunch 20 seconds later and sprinted to 6th place. After a race of cohesive teamwork in atrocious weather, Trek-Segafredo successfully defended yellow for another day.
"It was very, very, very cold," said Felline. "The first 20 kilometers we were lucky, it was not really bad, but after 30-40kms we started to see snow and wet roads. When you feel 4-5 degrees (Celsius) and snow for 100 kilometers, it is not easy. I couldn't feel my feet. I couldn't feel my hands. This is for sure a day I won't forget."
"I was thinking to win the sprint of the peloton would be a nice satisfaction, but Colbrelli, we all know, is really fast. My hands were so cold, I was only able to change gears in the sprint thanks to the electronic shifiting."
Four men escaped early in a shortened 136.5-kilometer stage after the first snowy descent was eliminated, reducing the parcours by 22 kilometers.
It was not easy conditions for Trek-Segafredo to defend the jersey, and with the highest placed rider in the breakaway at two minutes, they could not allow the escape group a hefty lead.
Greg Daniel and Fumy Beppu again performed the bulk of the early work. As the peloton approached the biggest climb of the stage, rain began to fall, which turned to wet snow as the road snaked upward. For a cyclist, these are some of the worst conditions and many riders could be seen shaking out icy-cold hands.
"Thankfully, I was riding the front so I could stay warmer," pointed out neo-pro Greg Daniel, racing his first Romandie. "I started to get cold on the descent. I was taking to Pete (Stetina) afterward, and he said it didn't even crack the top five of his coldest days on the bike! I guess that means I have a lot more days like today in the future. Once we hit the bottom of the climb there were more teams willing to help in the chase. At that point my job was done; we didn't need to rip it anymore as Fabio's lead wasn't challenged anymore."
VIDEO: 2017 Tour de Romandie Stage 2 Highlights
The grueling conditions left two survivors out front to contest the win, and a wet, cold bunch sprinting for the minor places.
"Again, today the team gave their maximum for this jersey," said Felline, praising the work of his teammates. "I am really proud of my teammates, and I want to thank them. When you have the feeling that your team is working for you, it gives you confidence. Another day in yellow is for the team."
Jarlinson Pantano finished in 8th place, attentively guarding against late gaps in the sprint and keeping his GC hopes alive. With another lumpy parcours tomorrow the battle for the overall will come down to the final two days, the queen stage Saturday followed by an individual time trial Sunday.
For Felline, he is taking his journey in yellow day by day.
"Saturday everyone tells me that there are five hard kilometers," said Felline. "I am not a pure climber and I will try to do a much as I can, and then we will see. What's important, is that every day I set out to do something."
Favorites Chris froome is 29 seconds behind and Richie Porte is 33 seconds behind Felline in 36th and 46th place respectively.
2017 Tour de Romandie Stage 2 Top 10 Results
1 Stefan Küng (Swi) BMC Racing Team 3:33:15
2 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team
3 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:20
4 Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Orica-Scott
5 Ben Swift (GBr) UAE Team Emirates
6 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
7 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Trek-Segafredo
9 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
10 Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors
2017 Tour de Romandie GC after Stage 2
1 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 8:12:42
2 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:08
3 Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar Team
4 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:09
5 Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:12
6 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors
7 José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:13
8 Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team
9 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-Scott 0:00:14
10 Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team
11 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
12 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:15
13 Damien Howson (Aus) Orica-Scott