• Apocalyptic conditions on the way from Aigle to Bulle on Stage 2 of the Tour de Romandie (Corbis Sport)Source: Corbis Sport
It was a painful day in the saddle for the peloton, as the rain and snow came down on a shortened stage to Bulle. Stefan Kung (BMC) was able to adapt the best to conditions, taking the win from the break in a two-up sprint against the soon-to-be-banned Andriy Grivko (Astana).
28 Apr 2017 - 8:31 AM 

At the end of one of the hardest days of racing in recent memory, it was Kung who was able to muster enough power for the final dash to the line to win in Bulle. The Swiss native made it two wins in his home race, after his 2015 stage win as a neo-professional.

That win was also taken from a breakaway and after the stage Kung was clearly pleased to rebound to the winner's circle. 

"It's amazing," said Kung, "I am really happy. We talked about the possibility of today being a good day for the breakaway or a good day to try and make a move. The team then gave me the freedom to go for it."

It has been a rude spring so far for Switzerland and the riders weren't spared the cold, racing drenched in sleet and snow as the temperatures dropped to just a few degrees above freezing. 

"It was so cold," said Kung. "In the beginning it was okay and then it started to rain before we hit the snow at the top of the last climb."

"It was like Winter Wonderland but we had to race our bikes. You can change gloves and clothes and so on but it is also hard to stay hydrated and to stay fuelled up on a day like today. After the finish it took me over half an hour to warm up, so I was actually glad I was in the breakaway. I had to ride and keep my body warm."

It has been a disappointing few years for Kung. He showed a lot of promise in his neo-pro year after taking a number of victories as an Under 23 but injury stopped him from performing to his peak in the last few years. 

"A lot things have happened and not good things. I had two really hard crashes with a long rehabilitation and then illness. I knew I could do but I just couldn't finish it off so it is a big relief for me to get this victory."

"I work hard all the time. I am a really ambitious person and if you are longing for success and always running behind, you lose patience and confidence. With this victory it is really nice to get a lot of this confidence back."

As it happened

The all-round miserable weather saw the stage 2 start line relocated to Aigle with riders avoiding the originally planned descent from Champéry and covering 136km of the original 160.7km course.

With the race eventually underway, attacks quickly began to fly off the front of the peloton with Stefan Küng part of the successful move which saw four riders go clear after only 4km of racing.

The gap between the breakaway and the peloton continued to rise as they raced through the valley before it settled at around 5'40" after the first of three categorized climbs.

As the road continued to roll and a mix of snow and rain began to fall, the advantage of Küng's group remained steady. As they hit the the slopes of the final categorized climb to Le Châtelard, the peloton had picked up the pace behind and the gap started to fall.

However, the four leading riders continued to work well together and as they crossed the finish line for the final 25km, they were still 3'00 ahead of the main bunch.

As the breakaway entered the closing kilometers, Küng and Andrei Grivko (Astana Pro Team) were pushing hard at the front of the group and with four kilometers to go, they were the last riders standing from the original breakaway.

Inside the final kilometer it was Küng who led the way with Grivko sitting firmly in his wheel. Küng led Grivko through the final left hand turn with 300m to go and started his sprint, holding on until the line and raising his hands in triumph.

"Today I tried to do it for my friend, Michele," Grivko said. "I tried to win the stage for him. I finished second but I want to win a race for him."

"We were close. When he came onto the team we had a good relationship and we won a lot of races together, the Tour de France with Nibali, and we were friends in a big group. It's not been easy. We tried to get a result in Liège and now we've come here also. It's not been an easy period."

Grivko has been suspended for 45 days by the UCI, with the ban set to start on May 1. The ban was incurred for punching Marcel Kittel in the face during the Dubai Tour, which the Ukrainian said was in response to Kittel's dangerous riding. 

"For me, the suspension is nothing compared to what happened recently," said Grivko, referring to the death of Scarponi.

Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) led the bunch sprint home to take third and Aussie Alex Edmondson (Orica-Scott) continued his impressive form of late with a fourth placed finish.