Fothen Wins Stage 1 of Romandy Tour
Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) has won Stage 1 of the Tour of Romandy. The German took a two-up sprint from Francisco Perez (Caisse d?Epargne) to win the mountainous, 157.8-km ride from Fribourg to La Chaux-de-Fonds in 4:08:58. Joaquim Rodriguez (Caisse d?Epargne) took the bunch sprint for third. Prologue winner Paolo Savoldelli (Astana) remains the overall leader.
Rainy, cool conditions greeted the riders. At 18 km, Chris Sorensen (CSC), Eros Capecchi (Liquigas), Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole), and Laurent Brochard (Bouygues Telecom) escaped. Eventually, Raffaele Ferrara (LPR) and Mauro Facci (Quick Step) joined the break.
The fugitives? lead topped out at 6:00. Astana began to chase, and other teams put their shoulders to the wheel. With 50 km remaining, Bodrogi was dropped and the leaders? advantage was down to about 3:30.
With 40 km to go, 39-year-old Brochard, the 1997 world road race champion and the oldest rider in the race, attacked and took 20-year-old Capecchi, the youngest man in the race, with him. The peloton swept up the remnants of the break, and with 25 km remaining, Brochard and Capecchi breasted the summit of the Col de la Tourne with a 1:05 lead on the peloton.
Many riders attacked from the peloton, and all were reeled in. The attacks served the purpose of the pursuit by keeping its speed up, and the bunch caught Brochard and Capecchi with 15 km left.
With 12 km remaining, Perez attacked and Wim Van Huffel (Predictor) joined him. Perez became angry when Van Huffel would not share the work and dropped the Belgian. Perez led the Liquigas-led peloton by 0:18 with eight km left.
Fothen attacked from the bunch and joined Perez with five km left. The pair cooperated well, but the peloton chased furiously and nearly caught them in the last km. With 250 m left, Perez bolted for the finish line, but Fothen came from behind for the win.
In the overall, Savoldelli leads Roman Kreuzinger (Liquigas) by 0:05 and Fothen by 0:06. Stage 2 will be easier than Stage 1. The rolling 166.9-km ride from La Chaux-de-Fonds to Lucens will feature one Category 1 and one Category 3 climb. Who will win the stage? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!