Switzerland’s Michael Albasini won the second stage of the Tour de Romandie on Thursday to also earn the overall race leader’s jersey.
The Orica GreenEDGE rider outsprinted Frenchman Tony Hurel and Italy’s Giacomo Nizzolo at the end of a 166.5km stage from Sion to Montreux.
Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski had begun the day in the leader’s yellow jersey, but lost out to Albasini due to time bonuses on the finishing line.
Albasini, 33, had also won Wednesday’s first stage in another mass bunch sprint and the 20 seconds he gained in winning those two stages have now given him a 5 second lead over OPQS’s Kwiatkowski in the standings, with Lithuania’s Ramunas Navardauskas third, a further 5 seconds back.
The Swiss rider’s victory continued Australian outfit Orica’s recent good form after Simon Gerrans won Sunday’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege race.
“I didn’t think I’d do this today, but my team worked very hard, even though I wasn’t feeling very good during the stage,” Albasini told Swiss television station RTS.
“I got lucky at the end, I picked a good wheel to follow, which gave me a good lead-out. It was more of a sprint today. I wasn’t thinking about taking the yellow jersey, but sometimes that happens and I’m delighted,” he added.
Kwiatkowski, who was fifth in Montreux, has also maintained his good form since the Ardennes Classics — he was fifth at the Amstel Gold Race and third in both the Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege — winning Tuesday’s opening prologue.
Yesterday’s third stage was to take the peloton over 180km from Le Bouveret to Aigle, with four brutal first-category climbs along the way.
Tour de France champion Chris Froome, 10th on Thursday’s stage, is ninth overall at 19 seconds, but would be hoping to test his legs in the mountains yesterday after a month of injury and illness.