Sonny Colbrelli wins in Saint-Imier

After a 6th place for Jan Tratnik at the opening prologue and a 2nd place at the end of the first stage, Sonny Colbrelli capped off the work of his Team Bahrain Victorious team mates at the end of the second stage of the Tour de Romandie, winning the sprint for the stage win. This is the third win of the season for the team and the first win of the season for Colbrelli.

The 74th edition of the Tour de Romandie is an ideal test of form for the Giro d’Italia, features a wide variety of stages. With a demanding prologue, two slightly easier hilly stages, a hard stage through the Jura mountain range, a mountaintop finish on the penultimate day and the conclusive individual time trial, this six-day stage race serves up opportunities for different kinds of riders. Team Bahrain Victorious lined up for this race in the French-speaking part of Switzerland with a number of goals: For the overall standings Damiano Caruso and Jack Haig are the protected riders. As for the mountain stages they can rely on the support of the two climbers Hermann Pernsteiner and Stephen Williams. With Phil Bauhaus and Sonny Colbrelli the team also has brought two fast sprinters and Jan Tratnik as their designated lead-out rider.

The second stage of the Tour de Romandie started in La Neuveville at the shore of Lake Neuchâtel and finished in Saint-Imier in the heart of the Jura mountain range. With five category 2 climbs and the Vue des Alpes as the final category 1 climb, this stage seemed to be much too hard for sprinters on paper. Early on a lead group of seven riders went up the road with Hermann Pernsteiner flying the colours of Team Bahrain Victorious. Just before the second of three passages of the finish line, the riders in the lead group started attacking each other, and Hermann Pernsteiner was caught by the main group with 25 kilometers to go. The Austrian rider worked hard for the team for the remaining distance before Damiano Caruso and Jack Haig moved to the front of the heavily reduced group of favourites - with Sonny Colbrelli on their wheel who had been one of the very few sprinters not to get dropped on the Vue des Alpes climb. Colbrelli had to give it all to win the sprint, facing some strong opponents and a head wind. His first win of the season was also the first win of the season for Team Bahrain-Victorious in a World Tour race.

The day before the first stage from Aigle to Martigny had served up a first opportunity for the sprinters. The final circuit featured two ascents through the vineyards of the lower Valais region, and these climbs were just a bit too hard for Phil Bauhaus who lost contact to the main bunch. Sonny Colbrelli on the other hand had no real issues to keep himself in that bunch. But throughout the final ten kilometers the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious were forced to react to and neutralise a number of attacks. As a consequence, Sonny Colbrelli only had Jan Tratnik left as a lead-out with 1.5 kilometers to go. While Tratnik did a great job piloting the main bunch through a series of tricky corners on wet roads, he also had to launch the sprint. Since Sonny Colbrelli faced a lot of fast riders and a strong head wind, he could not keep Peter Sagan from getting out of his wheel and past him, having to settle for 2nd place on the day.

Kicking off this year’s Tour de Romandie was a treacherous prologue in the famous Lavaux wine region. While the initial three kilometers were almost entirely flat, the fourth and final kilometer averaged a gradient of 6.5 percents. Sonny Colbrelli was one of the very early starters and showed a strong performance that would see him finish in 40th place. Soon after it was up to Jan Tratnik to try and repeat his Tour de Romandie prologue win back in 2019. At first the Slovenian took second spot between the Swiss time trial specialists Stefan Bissegger and Stefan Küng, and in the end his ride was good enough for 6th place - another strong result seen the depth of competition. Tomorrow’s stage 3 around the city of Estavayer serves up another chance for the sprinters before the overall standings are taking shape first in Saturday’s Queen’s stage from Sion to Thyon and then in the conclusive individual time trial raced in Fribourg.

1. Sonny Colbrelli, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 4:21.42 hours
2. Patrick Bevin, NZL, st
3. Marc Hirschi, SUI, st

1. Peter Sagan, SVK, in 4:12.40 hours
3. Patrick Bevin, NZL, st