Philipe Gilbert (Quickstep-Floors) won the 2nd stage of the Tour de Suisse in a messy sprint finale from Patrick Bevin (Cannondale-Drapac) and Anthony Roux (FDJ). Stefun Kung (BMC Racing) is the new overall race leader.
The 2nd stage of the Tour de Suisse saw riders take on 5 laps of a tough circuit in Cham. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka went on the attack in the opening kilometers as our South African Nic Dougall jumped into the early break of the day with 4 other riders. Dougall and co. were able to ride to a 5-minute lead and our crafty South African had his eye on the points jersey today.
Dougall won the first two sprints of the day quite easily, taking him to 12 points in the standings. There was another 6 points on offer with 7km to go and 10 points at the finishline, it was going to be touch and go as to whether Dougall could take the jersey. In the peloton, BMC led the chase with support from the sprinters teams as today was one of the few opportunities for the fast men. Our African Team had actually pinned its hope on our South African champion Reinardt Janse van Rensburg in the sprint, with Dougall being our insurance up the road.
Unfortunately, luck was not on Janse van Rensburg’s side today. Just as Dougall’s break was caught with 25km to go, a crash in the pack saw our sprinter having a mechanical issue. Just as he was able to regain contact after a quick chase, another crash held up the back of half of the peloton once again. Janse van Rensburg had to put in another massive effort to try and get back but just as he was about to, the attacks went flying off the front of the reduced bunch to ensure only 50 riders would make it to the line together.
It was a chaotic final few kilometers as a 3-rider attack tried to spoil the sprinters chances. This worked out well for Dougall as they mopped up the 6 points on offer at 7km to go. The break was then caught by the Bora led peloton and it all seemed like it was going to be another day for the world champion, Peter Sagan. Mekseb Debesay our Eritrean had other ideas though and attacked with 1.5km to go, a few riders responded and they got a small gap. Even though they couldn’t hold the move to the finish, it threw the true sprinters off and Gilbert took a surprise win. Merhawi Kudus was our best placed in 18th while Debesay and Morton finished safely in the bunch. Dougall took the points jersey with a 2-point advantage over Gilbert.
Nic Dougall – Rider
The break worked really well together today and I think we rode it pretty smart. I went for the first KOM today but misjudged it by quite a bit. I thought I had to get something out of the day so I went for the next two sprints and got those points. We started riding really hard on the 2nd last lap to try stay away but the bunch was too strong and too many teams were interested in sprinting. The guys were unlucky to get caught behind the crashes but our GC guys were right up in front which was great. We will try again for another sprint tomorrow.