Former Tour of Italy champion Damiano Cunego got back to his winning ways with victory in the 171.8 km second stage of the Tour de Romandie on Thursday. Cunego led Australia's 2006 race winner Cadel Evans of BMC by two seconds in a sprint finish, followed by Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan, after a series of breakaways split the pack and left yellow jersey Pavel Brutt trailing. While the Russian Team Katusha rider kept his overall lead, Cunego cut it by two-thirds to about 40-seconds after his Lampre team-mates helped reel in a succession of breakaways including a final bid by Briton David Millar.
"This win was also built by my team mates," Cunego, who rides for Lampre, said. "It wasn't easy because it was a very hilly race with lots of attacks from far out which we always managed to close down, especially in the final 11 kilometers. And then there was this hotly contested final sprint," he added.
The race came alive in the final 50 kilometer circuit with an ill-fated attempt by German hope Tony Martin and Poland's Sylvester Szmyd, who nonetheless built up a lead of more than a minute and half during their escapade They were eventually reeled in by Lampre and Vinokourov's Astana team, who then had to stifle a rapid series of lone attempts, bringing Cunego, the Kazakh and Evans to the front while Brutt spearheaded a distant second group.
Friday's 165.7 km fourth stage will be largely flat but marked by a category one climb into the Jura hills before the stage finish in Neuchatel.