In the aftermath of the opening prologue, stage 1 of the Tour de Romandie turned out to be relatively calm for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team on Wednesday. At Chenit, in the Vallée de Joux, almost the entire team finished in a slightly reduced peloton while Ethan Vernon won the final sprint. The second stage towards La Chaux-de-Fonds on Thursday should be livelier.

From Crissier, on Lausanne’s northern suburbs, the peloton set off on Wednesday for a 170-kilometre first stage to the Vallée de Joux, on the Franco-Swiss border. In this day made for the fast men, the breakaway was established immediately after the start with five men: Tobias Bayer (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo), Michael Schär (AG2R Citroën), Dario Lillo and Jan Stöckli (Switzerland). The bunch, however, left very little room for the day’s attackers and barely gave them a two-minute lead. The gap further decreased passing the two main climbs located before the halfway point. “Ineos wanted to test the sprinters, and they succeeded,” said Jussi Veikkanen. “The sprinters were dropped one after the other. Lewis was also distanced at this point in the race. It’s a pity because we planned to go for him on two stages, especially today. He also wanted to give it a go, unfortunately he could not follow the main peloton”.

“There may be some action tomorrow”, Jussi Veikkanen

Like some thirty men, including the major sprinters, the British sprinter did not manage to re-join the bunch that kept on going at a solid pace. The day’s breakaway was also caught seventy-three kilometres from the finish, and no particular movement then unfold during the race. “The peloton continued at a steady pace and it all finished in a sprint, with our six other riders up front”, added Jussi. “There is not much else to say, except that the landscapes were beautiful and that the weather was nice (smiles)”. In the sprint, Enzo Paleni tried to follow the wheels and eventually entered the day’s top-20 (17th). The race scenario should be quite different on Thursday towards La Chaux-de-Fonds with three climbs in the last thirty kilometres. “The start is in Morteau, in France”, recalled Jussi. “We also know the final. I raced it myself back in the day. It’s hilly and not easy. There can be some action and we have to take part in it”.

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