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Meyer, Warbasse and Deignan narrowly hold off the peloton in the mountainous second stage of the Tour de Suisse, with Meyer winning the sprint; Sagan has to settle for fourth while Martin defends his lead

Photo: Sirotti

CAMERON MEYER

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DECEUNINCK - QUICK-STEP

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LARRY WARBASSE

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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PHILIP DEIGNAN

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TONY MARTIN

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TOUR DE SUISSE

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15.06.2014 @ 18:11 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEDGE) denied bug favourite Peter Sagan (Cannondale) the win in today’s second stage of the Tour de Suisse when he joined Lawrence Warbasse (BMC) and Philip Deignan (Sky) to form a trio that narrowly held off the peloton. The Australian was clearly the fastest in the sprint while Sagan had to settle for fourth on a day when race leader Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) was isolated but managed to defend his lead.

 

Going into the second stage of the Tour de Suisse, all eyes were on Peter Sagan. With a very mountainous profile, the course was expected to be way too hard for the pure sprinters but with 22km from the top of the final climb to the finish, it was not a day for the GC riders either.

 

However, the Slovakian paid the price for a lack of team support as a very strong trio managed to hold off the peloton. With just two teammates at his side – Davide Formolo and Christiano Salerno – he didn’t have the horsepower to reel in the front group in time to set up a sprint finish.

 

Instead, it was Cameron Meyer who took a stage win in the Swiss race for the second year in a row. One year ago he had won the opening time trial and this year he beat Philip Deignan and Lawrence Warbasse in the sprint to win the first road stage of the race.

 

The trio had been part of a 5-rider breakaway that proved to be very hard to catch. On the final climb, Warbasse and Deignan dropped Meyer but the Australian did an impressive job to get back in contention 11km from the line.

 

Behind, the GC riders had attacked each other on the final climb and this had put Cannondale at their limit. While it had been enough to send the sprinters out the back door, Sagan also found himself with just two teammates at his side.

 

When things regrouped after the descent, Salerno and Formolo hit the front but as they got no help from the other teams, they had no chance to reel in the trio that worked well together. With 5km to go, they were still 50 seconds behind and it was clear that the peloton was out of the battle for the stage win.

 

Race leader Tony Martin wanted to save his yellow jersey and took some massive pulls in the finale to single-handedly bring the gap down to 30 seconds but he had no interest in making the cacth. Hence, the escapees could battle it out in a sprint for the stage win and after Warbasse had tried to launch from the front, Meyer emerged as clearly the fastest, with Deignan taking second.

 

Behind, Sagan easily beat Ben Swift (Sky) in the sprint for fourth but the Slovakian had clearly hoped for more. For Martin, it ended as a good day as he managed to defend his lead despite being isolated in the finale.

 

He faces another tough test in tomorrow’s stage. A very hilly course that is always up and down and includes a category 2 climb just 26km from the finish, ends with a short 3km climb to the finish. The finale is expected to suit the puncheurs, meaning that Sagan could get an immediate chance to take his revenge.

 

A massive amount of climbing

After the opening time trial, it was straight into the mountains for the riders in this year’s Tour de Suisse. The first road stage of the race brought the riders over 181.8km from Bellinzona to Sarnen and the route was a brutal affair. After a flat start, the riders went up the big Goothardpass before taking a short descent and tackling the Furkapass whose summit at 2416m is the highest point of this year’s race. Another short descent to the Grimselpass before a long downhill section took the riders back to the valley. Here they went up the category 2 Brünigpass before the final 22km that consisted of a descent and a flat 10km section to the finish.

 

The summerlike conditions that have dominated Europe these last few weeks had disappeared for the start of the stage as the riders took off under torrential rain. Two riders didn’t take the start as Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r) who was sitting in 5th overall, had fallen ill overnight, and Marc Goos (Belkin) had been diagnosed with a broken hip after crashing on the descent in the time trial.

 

The break takes off

On paper, the stage could be one for a breakaway and so it was no surprise to see a fast start to the stage. The first riders to get a significant gap were Sébastien Turgot (Ag2r), Silvan Dillier (BMC), Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin), Jérémy Roy (FDJ), Geoffrey Soupe (FDJ) and Jay Robert Thomson (MTN) but the sextet was soon caught back by the main group.

 

Instead a new group took off when Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty), Bjorn Thurau (Europcar), Philip Deignan (Sky), Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEDGE), Lawrence Warbasse (BMC) and Reto Hollenstein (IAM) took off and they were allowed to build a gap. At the 22km mark, they were 1.30 ahead while behind Maxime Monfort (Lotto Belisol) was involved in a crash that ended his race.

 

OPQS in control

The gap continued to grow and had reached 4.10 after 29km of racing. Linus Gerdemann (MTN) set off in pursuit and managed to reduce his deficit to 1.13 but as he again started to lose ground on the lower slopes of the Gotthardpassm he gave up and fell back to the peloton.

 

In the main group Tony Martin’s Omega Pharma-Quick Step team had taken control but they lost ground to the leaders on the first HC climb of the race. When Thurau beat Hollenstein and Deignan in the battle for points at the top, they were 5.25 ahead and they hit the Furkapass with a similar advantage.

 

Veuchelen drops off

On the lower slopes of that climb, Veuchelen failed to keep up with his companions, leaving just five riders to press on. 500m from the top, he was caught by the peloton while Thurau led Hollenstein and Warbasse over the summit. At that point, the gap was still 5.25.

 

On the Grimselpass, the peloton upped the pace and by the time, Thurau led the group over the top, the gap had come down to just around 4 minutes. Foggy conditions made the descent very dangerous but the peloton still managed to reduce their gap and arrived at the bottom with a deficit of 3.10.

 

Mollema crashes

While Meyer had to fight his way back to the leaders after a mechanical, Pablo Lastras (Movistar) set off in pursuit on the descent. The Spaniard managed to build a 20-second advantage but as he hit the flat roads in the valley, he fell back to the main group.

 

A crash brought down Bauke Mollema (Belkin), Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar) and Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ) but the trio got back on their bikes and rejoined the peloton which kept a stable 3.10 gap. Garmin-Sharp had taken over the pace-setting, trying to set up Tom-Jelte Slagter for a sprint win.

 

The break splits up

As they neared the final climb, they got some assistance from Katusha and they led the peloton onto the Brünigpass with a deficit of 2.45. Up ahead, Deignan and Warbasse dropped their companions but an impressive Thurau fought his way back to the leaders.

 

Thurau had to surrender a little further up the climb while behind the favourites started to attack each other. Mollema was the first to give it a go, drawing clear a 7-rider group but race leader Martin was always there. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) also gave it a go but none of them was able to get a gap. However, it made the peloton exploded and it was a reduced group that was led over the top by Kreuziger.

 

Cannondale hit the front

Deignan and Warbasse were now 42 seconds ahead of Thurau and Meyer while Hollenstein was back in the pack that was 1.45 adrift. Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin) made a short attack on the descent but while the domestiques recovered from the climb, it took some time for the chase to get organized.

 

17km from the finish, the gap was 1.26 and now Formolo and Salerno took over the pace-setting. However, they had difficulties taking back time and 10km from the finish, they were still 1.11 behind.

 

Meyer rejoins the leaders

Impressively, Meyer had fought his way back to the leaders while Thurau had been caught by the peloton. 5km from the finish, the gap was still 55 seconds and it was now clear that the trio would stay away.

 

Martin took a huge turn on the front to reduce his time loss but 2km from the finish, they were still 42 seconds behind. Up ahead, the trip prepared themselves for the sprint and it was Warbasse that led under the flamme rouge.

 

Meyer wins the sprint

The American didn’t get any more assistance and tried to launch his sprint from the front. However, he was easily passed by Meyer who took a clear victory.

 

14 seconds later Sagan beat Swift in the sprint for fourth after Sky had tried to lead out their British sprinter while Martin finished safely within the bunch to defend his lead.

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