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Danilo Wyss on the first stage of the Tour de Romandie: The riders were fully stretched by the weather conditions. (Photo by Tim De Waele)
Danilo Wyss on the first stage of the Tour de Romandie: The riders were fully stretched by the weather conditions. (Photo by Tim De Waele)

An A-typically difficult first stage at Romandie

30. aprile 2008

Saignelégier

After the short, intense prologue, the Romandie organizers mixed the pot even more by scheduling a very difficult Stage 1, 182 km trek from Morges to Signelégier.

With three categorized climbs and two sprints, there was never any question that it would be a challenging stage.  Just how challenging the stage turned out to be, however, did surprise more than a few.

Much harder than it looked on paper

Not only was the parcours deceptively hard, the weather played a major role in making life difficult for the riders today.  “It was a really hard stage, much harder than it looked on paper,” Gavin Chilcott reported while collecting the team’s late arrivals.  “It was cold and rainy all day with the thermostat hovering around 4° C (39° F) for most of the day.”  Though there had been a certain numbers of riders dropped along the way, over two Category 2 climbs, it was the final Category 1 climb up to Saulcy that did most of the damage.  “It really became a race of attrition up and over that last climb,” Chilcott explained.  “On the climb, lots of groups of only one or two riders started forming, and over the top, the lead group was maybe 20 riders, including Alex Moos for our team.”  Meanwhile, the team’s other two climbing specialists, Jeff Louder and Steve Bovay, were not far behind.  “The race was going pretty well for us up until the final 2 or 3 km when Alex lost contact with the leaders,” John Lelangue reported.  “Following the final climb, there was about 15km until the finish,” Chilcott explained.  “There were several rollers that proved to be just too much for Alex and he fell off the pace. It’s a pity really because he had made it all day through the hardest selection with the top riders, but then the race was just a few kilometres too far for him today.”

Big time separations mark the stage  

“Anybody who was not in that main group will be down by minutes at this point,” Chilcott predicted.  “Now that Alex was not able to keep up with the main group, we will stop worrying about GC altogether, and instead treat each stage as its own stand-alone event.”  The team did make some noises in the front of the race early on: “I attacked on the Arnex descent which is a road I know very well,” Danilo Wyss who lives in nearby Orbe and regularly trains on these roads, said.  “Three riders had already escaped, but something had to be done to show off the BMC jersey today.” “The guys rode well considering the conditions,” Lelangue interjected.  “Danilo was alone chasing the early break for many kilometers, and though it might have sapped him a bit for the latter difficult climbing, he still made the time cut and we can plan for more action this week.”  “When I was finally caught by the peloton, I would have needed a few more minutes respite to recover from my 70 kilometer effort,” Danilo explained.  “Unfortunately for me, we were just coming to some hills and I was dropped at the second bump.”  Definitely not a sprinters’ stage, the day proved tough for many teams, including the race leader who was shot out the back early on the last climb himself.  “No one distinguished himself by being the first to be dropped,” Chilcott wryly said.  “It was tough for everyone, and large groups were getting separated almost immediately on that last climb.”  This Tour de Romandie has been talked up as being one of the hardest editions in recent memory, and it indeed lived up to that billing today.