Bauke Mollema (Blanco) won a weather-shortened stage 2 of the Tour de Suisse on Saturday as Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge) narrowly defended his yellow jersey from a late attack by Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp).
The 159.2km stage from Quinto to Crans-Montano was cut to 117.2 km thanks to heavy snow, which forced organizers to excise the Neufenenpass and Furka ascents from the route and start the stage in Ulrichen.
“Although we knew that it would be difficult, we never gave up hope until this afternoon. After having talked to the local authorities again, we didn’t have any other choice than adapting the route,” said Rolf Huser, sports director of the Tour de Suisse.
Once racing began a four-man break formed, containing Enrique Sanz Unzue (Movistar), Christophe Riblon (Ag2r La Mondiale), Adrian Saez de Arrigi (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Johannes Fröhlinger (Argos-Shimano).
With 35km to go the escapees held just over a minute on the bunch containing race leader Meyer, but they would not keep it — with 17km to go the break was caught at the base of the final climb to Crans-Montano, with Marcus Burghardt (BMC) leading the chase.
Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) had a couple of digs and finally got away with 12km to go. Teammate Hesjesdal, Tanel Kangert (Astana) and Brice Feillu (Sojasun) soon joined Martin, and then dropped him. Feillu couldn’t hold the pace, either, and soon it was a lead duo with just 16 seconds’ advantage in a light rain as the climb steepened.
With 7km to go Hesjedal and Kangert had nearly a half-minute, with the Garmin rider doing the bulk of the work. Then the Canadian put in another little dig and left Tangert behind with 5km to race.
Two kilometers further along BMC Racing took the front and pushed the pace in the bunch. Tangert was swept up, but Hesjedal remained out front alone.
Tejay van Garderen (BMC) tried a move but it was quickly snuffed out. Hesjedal clung to 16 seconds, sneaking a quick look over his shoulder as he raced under the red kite.
Johann Tschopp (IAM Cycling) attacked next, followed by Mollema, and the Blanco rider swept past and into the lead as the Garmin rider ran out of gas.
Mollema crossed alone for the win, followed by Mathias Frank (BMC) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).
“It was a long time ago that I won a race, almost three years ago,” said Mollema. “I’m really happy I won.”
The Blanco rider added that has his eye on a couple more stages, and is looking for a strong ride in the overall.
“I hope to be on the podium,” he said.
Meyer followed 27 seconds down to keep the jersey by just three seconds over Hesjedal, with Frank third at five seconds.
Monday’s third stage will take the peloton over 204.9km from Montreux to Meiringen.
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more from the Tour de Suisse.