Kittel wins hilly stage in Tour de Romandie

Marcel Kittel showed great form by surviving the fast pace set by Movistar on the climbs and then narrowly held Niccolo Bonifazio (Trek-Segafredo) off in the reduced bunch sprint, with Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) completing the podium. Ion Izagirre (Movistar) finished safely in the bunch and retained the overall lead.

After the wet prologue, the riders were originally set to tackle a 169km stage from La Chaux-de-Fonds to Moudon. The course had an early category 2 climb and then descended to a lumpy section with two category 3 climbs. In the end, there was a 41.7km circuit on the menu and it included a 5.3km category 3 climb with an average gradient of 4%. The top was located 28.8km from the finish and from there it was a lumpy section and a descent that led to the flat finish.

Unfortunately, snow prevented the riders from tackling the descent from the category 2 climb and so the organizers decided to shorten the stage. Hence, the riders took the start at the 68.5km mark and only covered the final 100.5km which included the three category 3 climbs.

Ion Izagirre finished safely in the bunch and so he retained his 6-second advantage over Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin). He faces his first big test in tomorrow’s second stage which has the first summit finish. Most of the stage is flat with just a category 2 climb at the midpoint but it all comes to a dramatic conclusion. A category 2 climb is followed by a small descent before the riders hit the bottom of the final climb which averages 7.1% over 7.3km. The top comes with 2km to go and then it is slightly uphill in the final part, meaning that the scene is set for the first big battle between the climbers.

Tour de Romandie 2016 – stage 1 results (Mathod – Moudon):

1 Marcel Kittel (Etixx – Quick-Step) 2:27:46
2 Niccolo Bonifazio (Trek-Segafredo)  ,,
3 Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE)  ,,
4 Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto Soudal)  ,,
5 Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale)  ,,
6 Davide Cimolai (Lampre – Merida)  ,,
7 Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R)  ,,
8 Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty – Groupe Gobert)  ,,
9 Kristian Sbaragli (Dimension Data)  ,,
10 Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha)  ,,


General classification after stage 1:

1 Ion Izaguirre Insausti (Movistar)


2 Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin)


3 Geraint Thomas (Sky)


4 Gorka Izagirre (Movistar)


5 Reto Hollenstein (IAM)


6 Louis Vervaeke (Lotto Soudal)


7 Tejay Van Garderen (BMC)


8 Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo)


9 Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)


10 Andrey Amador (Movistar)