Iglinsky Wins Stage 1 of Romandy Tour; Albasini Takes Race Lead
Maxim Iglinsky (Astana) has won Stage 1 of the Tour of Romandy. The Kazakh champion outsprinted about 25 other riders to take the rugged, 182-km ride from Morges to Saignelegier in 4:47:28. Michael Albasini (Liquigas) and Markus Zberg finished second and third, respectively, and the former has taken the overall lead.
The peloton began its day's work in the rain. At 10 km, Matt Breschel (CSC), Morris Possoni (High Road), and Patxi Vila Errandonea (Lampre) escaped. At 15 km, the trio led the field by 0:40. The lead increased to about 2:00 at 35 km, and Danilo Wyss (BMC) attempted to bridge up to the move.
At 50 km, the break led Wyss by 1:50 and the bunch by 8:00. Fifteen km later, the peloton began to chase.
The escapees' lead dropped slowly. It was 7:40 at 94.4 km, 5:20 at 117 km, and 4:50 at 122.3 km. With 30 km remaining, with Liquigas and Rabobank driving the bunch, the lead was down to 3:00.
On the day's last climb, the Category 1 La Gruyere, Possoni and Errandonea dropped Breschel. With 22 km left, Denis Menchov (Rabobank) attacked and took 10 men up the climb with him. Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) and Vladimir Gusev (Astana) were among the ten. Behind, a third group attempted to catch the 10 runaways.
With 15 km left, Mikel Astarloa (Euskaltel) left the Menchov group to attempt to bridge up to the leaders. Alexander Botcharov (Credit Agricole) countered, passed Astarloa, overtook Errandonea and Possoni, and surged into the lead. Behind, the first group grew until it was about 25 riders strong. Astana led the pursuit.
With six km left, Astarloa and Botcharov joined forces. Two km later, Jussi Veikkanen (Francaise des Jeux) bridged up to the two leaders. The chasers, however, were close behind.
The chasers caught the trio with two km left, and Astana led the field into the final km. With 350 km left, Dekker charged into the lead, but Iglinsky overtook the Dutchman and held on for the win. Albasini, who finished third in the prologue, sprinted into the overall lead.
In the overall, Albasini leads Iglinsky by 0:01 and Zberg by 0:08. Stage 2 will probably not change this state of affairs. The rolling, 172.1-km run from Moutier to Fribourg is tailor-made for a bunch sprint. Who will win it? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!