We were expecting the second stage of the Tour de l’Ain 2020 would be the first battle of the strong guys and it certainly delivered.
Between the Pays de Gex Agglo and the finish at Lélex Monts-Jura, 140 kilometres and no less than 3,000 metres of climbing were on the menu for the 143 riders. Very quickly after the start from Lagnieu in Plaine de l’Ain and under a thermometer reading above 35 degrees Celsius, 5 riders took the lead: Jaakko Hanninen – AG2R la Mondiale; Simon Gugliemi – Groupama FDJ; Nils Politt – Israel Start Up Nation; Julien Bernard – Trek Segafredo; Joey Rosskopf – CCC Team.
Long kept under control by the Deceuninck QuickStep team of leader Bagioli, the breakaway of 5 had a lead of up to 5 minutes. The first hostilities, initiated by Romain Sicard (Total Direct Energie), were launched 50 kilometers from the finish line on the Côte de Giron. The Jumbo-Visma team then took over the lead with a hellish tempo that would prove fatal to the race leader.
Jaakko Hanninen would be the last survivor of the day’s breakaway earning him the award for most combative of the day. Julien Bernard, also very enterprising, gets the blue polka-dot jersey for best climber.
The thinning of the field led by the “black yellows” continued up the Col de Menthières, now an essential part of the Tour de l’Ain. The Jumbo-Visma, outnumbering other teams with Kruijswik, Bennett and Roglic in a shrunk down group, kept pressure on for the climb up to Lélex Monts-Jura. Bennett led his leader Kruijswik until the last kilometer where Mollema tried to anticipate the sprint but was stopped by a mechanical.
In this final uphill false flat, Roglic was the strongest. Beaten on the wire in the first stage, the Slovenian didn’t let his chance go by this time – a reward for the hard work done by his Jumbo-Visma team since the start.
Tomorrow, the riders will set off from Saint-Vulbas towards the Grand Colombier, a stage that is identical to the 15th stage of the next Tour de France. A general rehearsal that promises to be eventful with a duel between Ineos and Jumbo Visma.