Jumbo-Visma drove the pace hard with 35km to go on Stage 2 and dropped most of the peloton on the Col des Menthières with Robert Gesink and Tom Dumoulin responsible for most of the damage. Egan Bernal had taken the win at the Tour d'Occitanne on the back of impressive teamwork the previous week, but was isolated here as Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome were dropped.
New Zealander George Bennett, Primoz Roglic, and Steven Kruiswijk (all Jumbo-Visma) lifted the pace and only Bernal, Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates), Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) remained at the front of the race.
Kruijswijk launched an attack ahead of the final climb to Mont Jura, but Jonathan Castroviejo (INEOS) was able to regain the chasing group and work for Bernal to limit the workload on his team leader.
Kruijswijk was brought back and it came down to the final push for the finish line, with Roglic sprinting clear on the final kick to the top to take the win and the race lead.
Bernal was isolated but he hung on to take second on the stage behind Roglic. With the final stage on Sunday Roglic leads Bernal by 10 seconds with surprise package Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) in third.
“This was a great team performance," said Roglic. "All the boys showed how strong they were.
"George did a lot of work. Steven attacked. I wanted to wait for the sprint myself. It was nice that I could finish it off today better than yesterday. I am very happy that I can finally ride again and do my job. I enjoy it so much.”
“It was a really good stage for us,” Bernal said after the finish. “It was really warm and hot and looking ahead to the Tour de France it’s good to have these sorts of days, for us. In the final, we were at the front and we followed the moves."
The Tour de l'Ain concludes with a mountain-top finish on Grand Colombier tomorrow morning AEST.