After a difficult day on Wednesday, Groupama-FDJ spent a quieter second stage on Thursday in the Tour de Romandie. In Échallens, the expected sprint did take place with a bunch of about seventy riders. Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) got the win while Quentin Pacher, Rudy Molard, Sébastien Reichenbach and Thibaut Pinot all finished in the main group. On Friday, a very hilly profile will lead the riders to Valbroye.
It was 1:25 p.m. when the peloton started the second stage from Échallens, for a route made of several loops, and it was 1:26 p.m. when the day’s breakaway established itself. “The goal this morning was to be attentive at the start, because you can never be certain about the day’s scenario”, said Philippe Mauduit. “We had to understand if three riders were going to go quickly and spend the day in front, or if there was going to be more fight, especially since there was some climbing in the first kilometres. Eventually, since everyone knew it was going to be a bunch sprint, the first four riders who went were the right ones. Therefore, it was the day we expected.” Nils Brun (Swiss National Team), Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo), Baptiste Planckaert (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert) and Diego Lopez (Equipo Kern Pharma) were able to benefit from a three-minute lead at best against the peloton, led by leader Rohan Dennis’s team. The gap was similar at the top of the only categorized climb of the day, located at midrace. Forty kilometres from the finish, however, the gap dropped below the two-minute mark and inexorably narrowed as the kilometres went on. The sprinters’ teams interested in the stage win took control and Nils Brun, the last breakaway’s rider, was caught in a short climb with twenty kilometres to go.
“Looking forward to the next few days”, Sébastien Reichenbach
After another climb, right after, the bunch was reduced to around seventy riders and then headed towards the finish for the awaited sprint. Already a winner of the prologue, Ethan Hayter took the victory again while Quentin Pacher (22nd) was the first Groupama-FDJ to cross the line. “We had to go through that day in the best possible way, avoiding crashes and splits in the final”, pointed out Philippe. “That’s what the guys managed to do. Let’s just say it was the stage we were hoping for.” Before the race’s last three stages, which are the most difficult, Rudy Molard, Quentin Pacher and Sébastien Reichenbach remain about thirty seconds away from Rohan Dennis in the general rankings. “We are now looking forward to the next two days, which should suit our qualities more”, added the Swiss man. “Personally, the legs are good, I can’t wait to be there. The team is going well too, so that bodes well. Tomorrow is hard to predict with this hilly finish. On the other hand, Saturday will really be a stage for climbers, very difficult and very tiring. You won’t be able to hide. As far as I’m concerned, I obviously have a special motivation at home, I want to make my supporters happy”. “We head into the next few days with calm and serenity”, concluded Philippe. “As for Thibaut, there is nothing surprising. When we look at the stages’ profile, we know that the last three motivate him more than those we have just done”.