Bob Jungels spends day in the break at Tour de Romandie
After netting a podium in the Sion time trial, the 23-year-old decided to test himself on the tough queen-stage of the race.
The hardest day at this year's edition included five categorized ascents, making up for more than 3000 meters of climbing. Taking the peloton from Conthey to Villars-sur-Ollon, the race was a nervous one right from the gun, as many riders gave it a go and tried to book a place in the breakaway. The escape was formed after the first hour, and included two Etixx – Quick-Step riders, Bob Jungels and stage 1 winner Marcel Kittel, who were joined by Sander Armee (Lotto-Soudal), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha), Martin Kohler (Team Roth), Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Alpecin), Marco Marcato (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Cameron Meyer (Dimension Data), Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) and Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff).
They didn't stick together for too much time, as the tough climbs took their toll on many of escapees, who were distanced and reeled in by the bunch. Only Bob and Kochetkov stayed at the front for the last part of the stage, while behind, the peloton was becoming more and more slim, as a result of the rain, cold temperatures and Movistar's pace. On the penultimate climb, Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC) attacked and got a good gap, before cresting the ascent and making the junction to the two leaders on the descent. Together, they made sure that the advantage over the chasers will increase by the point they'll arrive at the foot of the final climb.
First to get dropped from the group was Kochetkov, who was already latching at the back, while Bob – who's preparing for his Giro d'Italia debut, next week – managed to stay with Froome and Van Garderen for a couple of minutes more, before he too was distanced. Of the two at the front, the Brit proved to be the strongest, as he surged clear from his US companion and powered to the finish line, where he nabbed the victory. Behind, the peloton made up for the lost ground and came in Villars-sur-Ollon only four seconds adrift, with Ion Izagirre (Movistar) taking second, ahead of Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).
Not only Bob Jungels gave it his all and made the most out of this hard stage, but also Carlos Verona. The Spanish rider of Etixx – Quick-Step began the final ascent together with the main group, and although he couldn't respond to the attacks of the favourites, he put on a strong ride on the challenging 8.9-km long climb and at the end of the stage he jumped five positions in the general classification led by Nairo Quintana, to 20th place, with one stage to go (Ollon – Geneva, 172 kilometers).
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele