Primoz Roglic rode on the coattails of a dominant Jumbo-Visma team performance to take Tour de l’Ain stage 2 Saturday. The Slovenian won the stage from a six-up sprint having been led out by teammate Steven Kruijswijk.
Egan Bernal (Ineos) followed in second, with Valerio Conti (UAE-Team Emirates) taking third.
Roglic’s victory gives him a 10-second GC lead over Bernal with one stage remaining. Although the young Colombian is right on Roglic’s heels coming into the final mountain stage, Roglic and Jumbo-Visma will be more than satisfied with a team display that left Bernal isolated and saw Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas unable to keep the pace.
The second stage of the three-day French race played out across a 140.5km slog through the Jura mountains, with five categorized climbs falling before the grinding haul to Lélex Monts-Jura.
A strong break of five went away early, including American Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team) Nils Politt (Israel Start-Up Nation), and Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo), while behind, Deceuninck-Quick-Step controlled the peloton on behalf of race leader Andrea Bagioli.
The gap to the escapees stretched out to nearly five minutes before Jumbo-Visma added pace to the peloton for Roglic and Tom Dumoulin, who started the day second and fourth respectively.
It was on the final categorized climb of the Col du Menthieres that the race hotted up, with the breakaway splintering and being swallowed by the bunch as Jumbo-Visma drilled the pace. Long, relentless pulls from Dumoulin and Robert Gesink thinned the bunch through the 9km climb, with Froome dropping off the pace early and Thomas fading a few kilometers later.
George Bennett continued to drive the group over the Menthières climb for Jumbo-Visma, and by the summit, only six riders remained, with Roglic, Kruijswijk, Bernal, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Nairo Quintana (Arkea Samsic) the lone survivors of the Dutch team’s aggression.
Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos) dragged himself and Conti back to the lead bunch through the long descent, giving Bernal, who was left isolated amid a trio of Jumbo-Visma riders, some much-needed backup.
With three riders still in contention, Jumbo-Visma began to play the numbers at the start of the 11-kilometer grind to the finish line at Lélex Monts-Jura, with Kruijswijk attacking from the bunch. Castroviejo limited the Dutchman’s gap to 12 seconds before cracking and falling off the back, leaving his leader Egan Bernal to pull the group of seven back together with around 6km remaining.
The Jumbo-Visma trio of Bennett, Roglic and Kruijswijk set the pace going into the final three kilometers as the lead septet reached a stalemate. After doing so much work in the final hour of the action, Bennett dropped off the pace and the race came down to six in the final kilometer.
Kruijswijk upped the pace and lead out the gallop with around 500 meters to go, shadowed by Bernal. However, with Roglic tucked in behind him, Bernal was unable to counter when the Slovenian unleashed his acceleration, capping off a faultless display from his team.
The race concludes Sunday with a major mountain test, closing out with a summit finish on the Grand Colombier.
Tour de l’Ain stage 2:
- Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma): 3:38:14
- Egan Bernal (Ineos): S.T.
- Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates): S.T
- Nairo Quintana (Arkea Samsic): +0:00:01
- Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma): +0:00:06
- Jesus Herrada (Cofidis): +0:00:14
GC after stage 2:
- Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma): 7:14:58
- Egan Bernal (Ineos): +0:00:10
- Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates): +0:00:12
- Nairo Quintana (Arkea Samsic): +0:00:18
- Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma): 0:00:23
- Jesus Herrada (Cofidis): +0:00:31