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Tour de Suisse stage 2: Mathieu van der Poel opens early sprint to win from reduced bunch

Stefan Küng held onto the overall lead by just one second over world champion Julian Alaphilippe

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Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) rode away from Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) in the final, 200m of a wet stage 2 of the 2021 Tour de Suisse.

Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious) rounded out the podium.

“It was a super fun stage, especially with the rainy conditions at the end. It was a bit of a classics parcours at the end so that suited me really well,” van der Poel said. “The team did a really good job to make the race hard as I asked and I’m really happy to finish it off.”

This is van der Poel’s first time racing — and winning a stage — at the Tour de Suisse.

Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) held onto the lead by a slim, one-second margin over world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) who jumped into second overall from seventh.

“My goal was to defend it. I was feeling good,” Küng said. “I’m happy to keep it one more day. A one-second lead is not a lot but I’ll give my best and try and defend it again tomorrow,” he added.

How it happened

Four had escaped off the front — Claudio Imhof (Swiss national team), Tom Bohli (Cofidis), and Matteo Dal-Cin and Nicolas Zukowsky (Rally Cycling) — and had a gap of five and a half minutes at 66.5km.

After two hours of racing under the sun, the four on the front rode into rain around 55km to go.

The foursome traded attacks for several KOM points, regrouping after the first several, but showing signs of fatigue as the race went on.

Launching a solo move from an attack to gain points in the climbing competition, Bohli tried to go off the front at 28km to go. Chasing after him, Imhoff dropped the two Rally riders.

Behind, the main group had fractured into several smaller groups.

Simon Yates (Team BikeExhange) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) were on the front to help bring back the escapees, reeling in the two Rally Cycling riders.

At 30km to go, the break hovered between 1:45 and 2:00 advantage.

Imhoff, some 8km later dropped Bohli on an uncategorized climb. The Swiss rider was minute ahead of the main bunch, and was cheered by home crowds.

On the chase after the remains of the break, John Degenkolb (Lotto-Soudal) was dropped off the back of the bunch, and struggled into the final climb at 10km to go.

Imhoff was stiff off the front under the 10km kite, with a 30-second lead, but this would be cut to nothing in the following 2km.

Alaphilippe went to the front at 8.5km to go and this move brought back Imhoff. The world champion launched several attacks, and was closely shadowed by Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), and van der Poel.

Schachmann was at the front with the favorites when Alaphilippe attacked again at 7.5km to go. And again Carapaz sat on his wheel, while van der Poel rode behind, just several meters back.

Alaphilppe’s moves all appeared to be attempts to soften up van der Poel — the eight others on the front were all wary of the Dutch rider’s ability to launch a kick at the end of a day of racing.

Van der Poel attacked at 3.5km to go, catching Alaphilippe and the others off guard. This move blew up the bunch on the front, and they gave chase after the ’cross king.

Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) went down just inside of the final kilometer red banner when he hit a bump on the wet roads.

Gino Mäder (Bahrain Victorious) tried to bridge to van der Poel, and Schachmann used this move to leapfrog to the front of the race.

Van der Poel forced the German rider to the front under the red kite, and then took over the lead into the final 400m and never looked back.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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