The Tour Take | Romandie Stage 1
1st – Omar Fraile (Astana)
2nd – Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain- Merida)
3rd – Rui Costa (UAE- Team Emirates)
Stage 1 from Fribourg to Delemont was 167km, with 4 climbs - three category two climbs and a category three climb. The riders finished with two laps of a 29km loop that finished in the town of Delemont and included the Category 2 Col de Bruisberg (6.2km at 6.4%). The Col topped out with 19km to go, and on the descent back into town the riders tackled a short ramp that provided another chance to get away, otherwise there was 5km of flat to the line for them to sort themselves out
Primoz Roglic takes over the Yellow Jersey, with Rohan Dennis and Geraint Thomas in second and third on GC. Omar Fraile takes the sprint jersey Marco Minaard is rewarded with his mountains Jersey for his day in the break, he won every categorised climb on the day and will be hoping to keep the jersey for a day or two.
The movers and shakers
Primoz Roglic had his LottoNL-Jumbo team setting a hard pace on the final climb of the Bruisberg, while Dan Martin and Emmanuel Buchmann both tried sneaky, but ill-feted attacks on the descent. Nobody stole any time, but some potential GC candidates did lose time.
A 5 man break went away right at the start of the stage, and included Alexis Gougeard, Antoine Duchesne, Remy Mertz, Marco Minaard, and the BIG horse Will Clarke. They got a maximum lead of six minutes over the peloton, which came with 70km to go, so the Phil and Paul time rule had them with a chance of winning if the peloton kept dilly-dallying. It especially looked like they had a chance when it got to 30km to go and they still had a three and a half minute gap. On the final ascent of the Col de Bruisberg, Alexis Gougeard attacked, taking Minaard with him, and though they survived over the top of the climb, their day in the sun wasn’t meant to be.
The Winning Move
Rudy Molard attacked with 2km to go and the bunch was thrown into disarray heading into the slightly uphill finale – Sonny Colbrelli went slightly early and was outdone by a perfectly timed Omar Fraile sprint.
The Surprise Packets
Alexis Gougeard was aggressive in the break, and started the move with Marco Minaard on the final time up the Bruisberg. On the final descent he had another attack, and even though he never established a gap you felt he could have kept trying to attack all day. Like many Frenchman could.
The Key Point
On the final time up the Col de Bruisberg, it really could have gone either way, with the break winning or being pulled back. Sunweb had been the only team chasing the break, and they hadn’t gone full gas as they tried to nurse Michael Matthews over the climb. LottoNL Jumbo took over the pacemaking, and Bahrain Merida had a crack on the descent, finally pulling back the remnants of the break on the small ramp halfway down the descent. Had Lotto stayed off the front, it would have been interesting to see what Sunweb would have been able to do, such was their balancing act between chasing the break and trying to keep Matthews in the front.
12th – Rohan Dennis s.t.
19th – Damien Howson s.t.
48th – Richie Porte s.t.
52nd – Robert Power s.t.
173km from Delemont to Yverdon-les-Baines, the stage is rolling, with a Cat.2 and Cat.3 climb, both coming early in the day. This one’s headed for a sprint though – this is a field that’s light on guys with no climbing ability whatsoever, so there’s probably going to be a big bunch at the end.
If you’d watched Liege, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Michael Matthews wasn’t in form - but that’s apparently a lie as he was great in the prologue (even if he wasn’t as great in stage 1). QuickStep have Fernando Gaviria and Elia Viviani, both of which are suitable options. I’ll go Viviani, as he was the quickest sprinter around in the early season, and you’d think the team might let Gaviria loose on the harder days.
See you back at the social club,