Australia’s Cameron Meyer kept the leader’s jersey as Dutchman Bauke Mollema won the second stage of the Tour de Suisse on Sunday.
Blanco Pro Cycling’s Mollema beat Swiss rider Mathias Frank and Frenchman Thibaut Pinaut by 11 seconds at the end of the 119.2km stage from Ulrichen to the Crans-Montana ski resort, Switzerland.
The course should have been 161.3km long, but snow caused several peaks, including the 2,478m Nufenenpass, to be closed, shortening the race.
Orica GreenEdge’s Meyer, who won the first stage time trial, now leads last year’s Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal of Canada by 3 seconds, with Frank 2 seconds further back.
Mollema was over the moon with his success.
“It’s the biggest win of my career and it’s been a long time coming since the last race I won was almost three years ago,” Mollema said. “I opened a good gap on the riders behind me and when I came up to Ryder I knew he was tired from riding alone for most of the climb.”
Hesjedal was the one who livened things up in the peloton on the final climb up to Crans-Montana.
After Hesjedal’s Garmin-Sharp teammate Daniel Martin had put in a good shift on the front of the peloton, the Canadian attacked alongside Astana’s Tanel Kangert.
With 5km left, Hesjedal went it alone and at one point had a 30 second lead on the peloton, but he was eventually reeled in as Italian Domenico Pozzovivo and Tejay van Garderen of the US put in bursts that brought him back into view.
Mollema attacked with 800m left and passed Hesjedal with 500m to go, before opening up an 11 second gap by the finish line.
Although beaten by Frank and Pinot in the sprint, Hesjedal came home in a seven-strong group with the same time.
Although Meyer kept hold of the leader’s jersey, a host of general classification contenders are now within a minute of his time, such as Roman Kreuziger, who is sixth, 28 seconds back.
One who is no threat, though, is 2010 Tour de France champion Andy Schleck, who trailed in 54th place, 3 minutes, 32 seconds behind on the stage.
The Luxemburger’s miserable season continues and sees him 56th overall, more than 4 minutes off the lead.
Yesterday’s third stage took the peloton over 204.9km from Montreux to Meiringen, Switzerland.