Italian Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) took his biggest win for two years on Thursday, sprinting to victory on the uphill finish of stage two of the Tour de Romandie in Switzerland.
Former Giro d’Italia winner Cunego was part of a chasing bunch that hunted down a small escape group containing Britain’s David Millar (Garmin-Cervelo) in the final 500 metres. Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) was the first to make a big move, accelerating up the hill only to be blocked and lose momentum.
Cunego seized the chance, powering up the other side of the road and crossing the line with arms aloft. Evans recovered enough to follow him home, with Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) in third.
Millar finished in 13th on the stage, two places behind fellow Brit Chris Froome (Sky) in 11th.
Race leader Pavel Brutt (Katusha) crossed the line in the second group, one minute 20 seconds behind Cunego.
Cunego’s win moves him up to second in the overall classification 38 seconds behind stage one winner Brutt. Evans is in third with Vinokourov fourth, both 42 seconds adrift of Brutt. Froome is in 16th spot, 56 seconds behind Brutt.
Three stages of the Worldtour-level race remain – and Cunego will be mindful of several of his rivals’ superior time trialling skills in Saturday’s penultimate stage – a 20.1km individual test against the clock.
Cunego’s form has been building well this season, after placing third in Montepaschi Strade Bianche, winning the Giro dell’Appennino and a stage of the Giro di Sardegna. Last year, he failed to win any races and you have to cast an eye back to 2009 for a big win, when he won two stages of the Vuelta a Espana.
The 2011 Tour de Romandie concludes on Sunday, May 1, in Geneva.
Tour de Romandie 2011, stage two: Romont to Romont, 171.8km
1. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-ISD
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 2 secs
3. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana
4. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar
5. David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Movistar
6. Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar
7. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Cervelo
8. Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad
9. Denis Menchov (Rus) Geox-TMC
10. Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank all same time
11. Chris Froome (GB) Sky
13. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at same time
Overall classification after stage two
1. Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha in 8-43-39
2. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 38 secs
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing at 42 secs
4. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana at 42 secs
5. Gorka Verdugo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 46 secs
6. Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing at 50 secs
7. Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar at 51 secs
8. Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Leopard-Trek at 51 secs
9. Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank at 51 secs
10. Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Leopard-Trek at 52 secs
16. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at 56 secs
21. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at 1-20
Pavel Brutt maintains the overall race lead