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Michael Albasini sprinted his way into the overall lead at Tour de Romandie on Wednesday, mastering a bunch gallop into Saint-Imier, Switzerland at the front of a peloton of about 50 riders.
Albasini took the race leader’s yellow jersey with his sprint win at the end of the 166.1km stage 2. It was the fourth career Tour de Romandie stage win for the Orica-GreenEdge rider from Switzerland.
“I placed myself well; I always like a little fight going on, and I was maybe a little bit too far in the front too early so I was happy the guys from Garmin came around me, and I could jump on them,” Albasini said in a team press release.
“Still, I had to do a long, long sprint so I was happy to keep [the lead].”
Jonathan Fumeaux (IAM Cycling) and Maxim Belkov (Katusha) took off from the starter’s flag, and soon, the duo gained almost four minutes on the peloton in the initial 10 kilometers.
They remained in front for much of the day, though Team Sky kept a brisk pace at the head of the peloton, working for its yellow jersey wearer, Geraint Thomas.
On the stage’s final climb, the duo was caught as the peloton began to stretch and split with 22km to go.
Over the descent and into the finish, a group of 40 riders came together for a sprint finish, and Albasini took advantage of the reduced bunch to claim victory.
“I actually was hurting a lot on the second last climb out here in Saint-Imier,” Albasini said. “But [the final climb] was quite a regular climb. After a really fast first part, the second part was more regular, and I could stay in the bunch so I knew I had a good chance in the sprint.”
Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) came second in the sprint, and he was followed by Etixx-Quick-Step’s Julian Alaphilippe. Albasini’s Orica teammate, Ivan Santaromita sits second overall, and defending race champion, Chris Froome (Sky), is now third on GC.
The race continues with stage 3 on Thursday, a 173.2km race from Moutier to Porrentruy, which includes four categorized climbs.