Rosskopf’s breakaway went away early and was out at the front of the race for the majority of the 140.5-kilometer race that featured five categorized climbs, including a summit finish at Lélex Monts-Jura.
The group’s advantage reached a maximum of around four minutes on the Col de Cuvillat, a little over 50 kilometers into the day, and after continuing to work well together, they remained three minutes 30 seconds ahead on the Côte de Giron, which topped out with just under 50 kilometers to go.
However, the race was starting to intensify behind them and around 20 kilometers later, on the Côte de Menthières, a heavily reduced main bunch pulled Rosskopf and the only other rider from the breakaway back, setting the race up for a showdown on the final 11.7-kilometer climb.
In a strong field, which at that point included three previous Tour de France champions, Hirt held his own, looking continuously strong as rider after rider was dropped from the group and despite going on to lose contact himself, the Czech rider was able to maintain his own pace and keep the front part of the group within sight.
Hirt eventually crossed the line 19 seconds behind stage winner, and new race leader, Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma), a result that also saw him jump up into ninth on the General Classification, 36 seconds back.
Quotes From the Finish Line
“For my first race back after the long break I have been feeling quite good and, for me, that positive because normally after so much time off, I need more racing kilometers in my legs to feel this way. I’m quite satisfied with my condition and how I performed today in the company we have at this race and I think tomorrow will be better again. Plus I would like to say that the team has been working really well together here so everything is going well.”
“I really enjoyed my opportunity to get out in front today. Just as we had planned, Barta and Černy also started well, covering attacks to ensure that one of us would make the break. Once there, being able to take as many bottles and ice socks from the car really helped me cope with the hot weather.
Although we got caught pretty quickly once the strong GC teams turned on the gas on the last KOM climb, I still enjoyed the chance to see what I could get out of myself on today’s hard course.”
Tour de l’Ain
Stage 2: Lagnieu > Lélex Monts-Jura (140.5km)
Top 3: 1. Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma) 2. Egan Bernal (Team INEOS) 3. Valerio Conti (UAE-Team Emirates)
CCC Team Top 3: to follow