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”I do not see it as revenge. I had to be competitive, to give it my all. I have not done many races this year, so between now and the Tour de France, any opportunity to gets some race pace, pushing some limits, is welcome."

Photo: Sirotti

TOUR DE ROMANDIE

RACE PROFILE
|
NEWS
30.04.2016 @ 23:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Chris Froome (Sky) proved that there is nothing wrong with his condition for the Tour de France by claiming a magnificent solo victory in the Tour de Romandie queen stage. Having attacked already on the penultimate climb, he timed trialled his way up the final ascent to narrowly hold off an elite group of climbers that was led to the finish by Ion Izagirre (Movistar) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ). The bonus seconds allowed Izagirre to move into third overall while his teammate Nairo Quintana comfortably retained his lead.

 

Chris Froome: I don’t see this victoy as a revenge

Chris Froome demonstrated his impressive form by powering to a resounding solo victory on stage four at the Tour de Romandie.

 

The Brit went into the day targeting stage victory and attacked early heading into the final 40 kilometres, opening out a decisive gap alongside Tejay van Garderen, before pushing on solo up to Villars-sur-Ollon.

 

Despite attacks firing in a reduced peloton behind, Froome was able to maintain a healthy advantage, measuring his efforts late on to win the queen stage by four seconds in soaking conditions.

 

The result was particularly sweet after the two-time winner saw his general classification ambitions deflated on Thursday due to an inopportune puncture.

 

"It's been a tough race so far," said Froome behind the podium, "so to come and win the queen stage today, especially attacking so far out, is a great feeling. It's nice as a team for us to get a victory here and not come away empty handed.

 

"It's a road I remember from two years ago, with similar conditions to today in the rain and cold. I thought if I'm going to get away it's going to have to be a long way from the finish. Tejay van Garderen came with me and the two of us worked together really well. He had the objective for the general classification and I had my sights set on winning the stage. I'm just really happy that it worked out in the end.

 

"This win feels good. It's been a tough week for the team. There are fatigued riders returning from the classics and some are sick. And then my puncture changed our whole race. So I'm really happy with this victory since winning at the Tour de Romandie also gives morale to the team. "

 

”I do not see it as revenge. I had to be competitive, to give it my all. I have not done many races this year, so between now and the Tour de France, any opportunity to gets some race pace, pushing some boundaries, is welcome.

 

"I did not know if I was going to win. I attacked from afar, I worked well with Tejay (Van Garderen). In the final, with the weather, it was difficult to understand what was happening behind. I did not know if I would be caught. In the last kilometer, I was dead! I thought they could return. I just gave everything.

 

“It makes no difference whether it’s the Tour de Romandie or the Tour de France, a win is always so special.”

 

With regards to his current form, Froome reiterated that the big goal is to be ready for the upcoming Tour de France.

 

"I'm not necessarily here to show anything - I'm here more for myself for preparations going forward," added. "Obviously my big goal is to be ready for July. I needed some good racing this week to set me up for that."

 

Mikel Nieve hung on well in a vastly reduced lead group and was the next Team Sky rider home in 24th.

 

Ion Izagirre back on the podium: The feelings couldn’t be better

The 70th Tour de Romandie will be painted Movistar Team blue on Sunday in Geneva after the riders directed by Arrieta and Laguía delivered a sensational performance in the 173km Queen stage on Saturday, starting under blue skies in Conthey but worsening to freezing cold, rainy conditions in the final loop around Villars-sur-Ollon. The two climbs of Barboleusaz (Cat-1) offered an intriguing scenario which forced the telephone squad to put all their energy at stake to leep Nairo Quintana's yellow jersey. And they accomplished their mission in style.

 

The most dangerous attack came from Tejay van Garderen (BMC), who anticipated the late moves by the GC favourites by jumping off the front with eventual stage winner Chris Froome (SKY) through the first ascent. Despite their gap growing to a worrying 55 seconds over the peloton, the Blues always controlling a field never bigger than 30 units, sensational efforts from Andrey Amador and Gorka Izagirre on  the climb, the subsequent downhil and the flat between the ascents kept the race under control, van Garderen sitting at 1'22" from Quintana overall.

 

Lots of attempts from Spilak (KAT) and Pinot (FDJ) - not a single one from Zakarin (KAT), 3rd overall - didn't prevent the top guns from reaching the line together, with Ion Izagirre claiming the second place and a six-second bonus that leads the Ormaiztegi-born rider into 3rd in the GC.

 

Nairo Quintana, who also responded himself to some of the moves and crossed the finish in 5th spot, didn't lose his temper and is now 172 kilometers away from closing his early 2016 season in style, following Catalunya's win and third places in San Luis and País Vasco. A huge success, he's holding the lead in both GC and KOM standings, that, thanks to Izagirre's work - leading the Points competition - and his team-mates', will have an even better taste.

 

Ion Izagirre said: 

 

"This week will be hard to beat; it's been a fantastic race for us. It started off in the best of possible ways when I won the prologue; logically, this gives you morale, and also boosts the whole team's confidence and helps them give their very best. The squad was brilliant all week, controlling the pace, pulling when some dangerous attacks occurred - they worked their hearts out so Nairo and I could focus on seeking for success. Nairo's win in Morgins changed our plans but actually kept us doing the same - it was great to see him so strong. This second place today got me back onto the podium; after such a demanding race, seeing that, with all those big riders in the field, you're third and Nairo is on top – the feelings couldn't be better. Let's hope we can keep all we've got at the end of tomorrow."

 

Nairo Quintana: I don’t feel like I am the winner yet

Nairo Quintana said:

 

"We took a really important step forward today. We had a superb team to control today's stage and we succeeded in getting Ion Izagirre onto the overall podium, something really important for himself and the whole squad. We've also kept all three jerseys, the teams' classification is almost decided... The day was fantastic for us, and we hope to crown it tomorrow without any troubles.

 

“Feeling a winner already today? Not at all - I feel like the race leader, a solid one, but this is not over yet. Nothing is won until we cross the last finish line on Sunday.

 

“This Tour de Romandie was a bit more complicated than I expected, especially because of the time trial, but the team responded well, my body responded well. Everything went well.

 

"We are going forward with confidence and calmness even if all those who will accompany me at the Tour are not here. So I do not pay too much attention to what is happening here because there will be great teams at the Tour with many riders at a very high level.”

 

Aggressive Thibaut Pinot: I have no regrets

 "I tried, I failed but I have no regrets,” Pinot told L’Equipe. “I had good condition and I enjoyed myself. I'm happy, but I can’t tell myself that I'm second. There is a stage tomorrow, with climbs in the first part, and the differences are small.”

 

Simon Spilak not disappointed to miss out on Romandie podium

There was nothing easy happening Saturday in the 70th Tour de Romandie, but from the rain and freezing cold temperatures to the difficult final climb, Team KATUSHA riders were part of all the action in stage 4. With teammate Pavel Kochetkov in the break of four, Simon Špilak had someone to work with in a series of attacks, all part of the team plan as they work toward the main goal of the upcoming Giro d’Italia in a week’s time.

 

“I tried a few times to go away, but in general they did not let me. I did my best and I’m happy with my performance. I knew Ilnur was behind me, and I think we did a good race today. The cold and the rain were unbelievable. It was such a hard race in these conditions. The race started in 20 degrees and then the last two hours it was 3 degrees. I will not finish on the podium this year, but sometimes this happens. I am not disappointed about this. I did my best and I am happy. If I’ve done my best, it doesn’t matter, if I finish first or tenth,” said team leader Simon Špilak, former winner of the Tour de Romandie.

 

The group of Kochetkov included Chris Froome (Team Sky), who was more than 17-minutes down on the classification and looking for a stage win. At the beginning of the final climb Kochetkov dropped back to join an attacking Špilak, while Zakarin continued to ride in the yellow jersey group of Nairo Quintana (Movistar). Unable to create enough of a gap to matter, Špilak ended up riding in support of Zakarin. Froome, meanwhile, held a gap to win by 4-seconds to Movistar’s Ion Izagirre and Thibaut Pinot of FDJ. Zakarin was fourth, all on the same time.

 

“I am completely frozen at this moment. Today we had a lot of wind and being in the small group in the front made the ride very hard. I was in a good position to give some help to Simon,” added Pavel Kochetkov.

 

“We tried to do some team work today, which we will need for the Giro d’Italia so even though we did not get a result today, this is OK with me. The only actual problem was, that Ilnur was caught at the end and lost his spot on the podium. We sent Kochetkov in the break with a plan to do something with Špilak, and he was able to attack, but he could not get much more than 20 seconds so it made more sense to stop and wait for the group. He attacked another two or three times with the purpose of making the race selective. We know Ilnur is not very fast, so we were hoping to reduce the number of players on the fast finish,” said team director Dmitry Konyshev.

 

Ilnur Zakarin: I can’t even be disappointed because I am completely frozen

“It was very cold today, and I really froze during the stage. In the final I tried to sprint, but finished 4th. Because of bonifications, once again I missed the GC podium. It's a pity, but right now I can't say I am disappointed, because all I feel now is completely frozen,” said best-placed team rider Ilnur Zakarin.

 

Due to the time bonus afforded Izagirre, Ilnur Zakarin dropped to 4th place overall (+0.26), while Simon Špilak maintained his seventh place position at 1.16.

 

Trek after solid ride in Romandie: Mollema has never been so good before

The forecasted rain arrived for the final two big climbs of stage four in the Tour of Romandie creating a grueling finish to the queen stage, Saturday. Bauke Mollema arrived at the top of the final ascent with a select group of seven riders, and in the final three kilometers launched a few attacks as he tried valiantly to increase the lead to a group behind containing riders ahead of him in the general classification.

 

Mollema's accelerations aided in catching a fading Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) in the final kilometer while Chris Froome (Sky) held on to earn the stage win after the pair had attacked on the penultimate climb. Mollema sprinted to 6th place, four seconds after Froome.

 

"I think it was a good day for me, the queen stage, hardest of the week," explained Mollema. "At the end, it was even harder with the rain and cold weather. Halfway through the stage it was hard to know how good I was, there was still a large group after the first big climb and I was suffering. But then at the end, I got better and better and actually on the last few kilometers I tried to attack and take some more time on the guys who were dropped. I am especially happy with the feeling on a hard day like this."

 

Hoping to move further up in the overall classification when Simon Spilak (Katusha), Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), and Matthias Frank (IAM Cycling) were dropped on the final climb, Mollema played a game of possum before bridging the gap to the six leaders that had opened a gap.

 

Despite his tactics and accelerations in the run-in, Mollema never gained enough time to distance the dropped riders, but he was still able to move up two spots into 9th overall.

 

"I was waiting to let Frank and Reichenbach pull a little because they were close to me in the GC, and then I closed the gap," Mollema explained about his tactic on the final climb. "I knew I could close it earlier but I wanted them to drop [further] and maybe pass them in the GC. In the end our group – we were six, seven riders – was not working so well together.”

 

"Dumoulin, Frank and Spilak were dropped, but they did a good TT yesterday so they could lose some time to me today. It was a hard week, still one day to go, but today gives me confidence for the races still coming."

 

Director Alain Gallopin gave his analysis of the punishing race in harsh weather conditions that resulted in Fumy Beppu, Ryder Hesjedal and Jack Bobridge abandoning, leaving the team at four riders for the final stage tomorrow:

 

"When I saw the final, I was hoping that Bauke could move into top 6 or 7, and it's a pity that the group behind came close at the end. Top 10 is always good, but our focus was top five or six, and when I saw Spilak and Frank dropped I thought maybe 7th…”

 

"Bauke did the maximum he could do with the level he has at this moment. He was sick between Tirreno (Adriatico) and Pays Basque and now we see Bauke at a level he never had before. He is a fighter - always fighting, fighting, fighting -  and at the end we have 9th, not really what we wanted, but I am so happy to see this guy so motivated to fight like he did. It's good, it's good.”

 

"Jack and Ryder stopped because with this weather I did not want to take any risks with the Giro starting soon. I am happy to see the level Peter (Stetina) is at, and this is a good sign ahead of California; he will be good there.”

 

"We hope it will be another chance for Niccolo (Bonifazio) tomorrow. But there is always Kittel, and it will be difficult to beat him, but to Niccolo everything is possible," Gallopin smiled. "He was second to Kittel last Wednesday and he was not happy. Afterward, he said to me that he thought he could have passed him. But this is the best sprinter in the world, eh? It's important to have some results and you never know."

 

Rui Costa: Today I felt much better

"Today I felt much better than yesterday and I fought," Rui Costa wrote in his diary. "I am not an explosive rider who makes attacks with ease because I'm bigger and heavier than the pure climbers, so it is hard for me to respond immediately when Quintana or Pinot attack. In this case, I kept my rhythm and got back. That's what happened today, I set my pace several times in an attempt to catchVan Garderen and leave some opponents like Spilak and Frank behind. It was worth the effort because the latter lost a few seconds and I managed to close the gap to van Garderen, otherwise I would have lost a position in the GC. I managed to climb to 6th place overall and was​​ 7th in the queen stage. A very positive balance of the day.


"Tomorrow is the last day of this Tour of Romandie. It is not a decisive stage and, if everything goes as we expect, it will be a sprint to the finish of a large group. It is expected that the GC will stay as it is."

 

Tejay van Garderen: I prefer to go down fighting

With 40 kilometers to go Tejay van Garderen made a gutsy move and attacked with Chris Froome (Team Sky) to build a steady 50 second lead on the group with race leader Nairo Quintana. Froome held on to win the stage, while van Garderen was caught just 200 meters before the line to finish in ninth place, with Damiano Caruso just behind in 12th place. Van Garderen now sits in tenth place on the General Classification.

 

Van Garderen said:

 

"I definitely think it is better to go down fighting than just sit there and conserve and get sucked into a top ten finish. In the end it was a big effort to move down a place on GC but sometimes I think you have to enjoy the process more than the result.

 

"I think this riding style of taking some risks is better and you gain more from it and learn more from it, and explore your limits a little bit more. Going from 40km out is a lot different than waiting until the last 3 or 4 km to make a move. So I'm definitely happy with today. I think it could have gone better and I wish I could have stuck with Froome to battle it out for the stage and move up on GC, but you have to take it for what it is and I think we fought hard today."

 

Yvon Ledanois, Sports Director, added:

 

“For me, the most important thing today was the mentality. Today I saw a big leader in Tejay van Garderen. He took responsibility and tried with 40 kilometers to go with Froome. Today he showed that he can react well and race aggressively. After a couple of stages that didn’t go to plan this stage was important for the morale and I think he can be happy.

 

“Tejay showed he had big legs and Damiano Caruso also did a very good job to finish up there just behind Tejay. Damiano and Amael Moinard put in a couple of good efforts to get into the early breakaways that didn’t stick, and the team did a good job on a whole. Tejay is still in the top ten on GC but more than anything today’s stage was a good display of what he can do.”

 

Tom Dumoulin satisfied with fifth place after Romandie queen stage

For Giant-Alpecin, Tobias Ludvigsson animated the race by being involved in the first breakaway of the day, but he eventually got dropped after the first climb and he then formed a chasing group trying to bridge the gap with the leaders.

 

He was eventually caught back by the bunch just before the penultimate climb which was composed of just 30 riders including Tom Dumoulin. It was a good effort from Dumuolim as he climbed to 11th place.

 

In the overall classification, Nairo Quintana (Team Movistar) remains the leader with Tom Dumoulin in 5th place, 57″ behind. On a less positive note, Albert Timmer had some difficulties during today’s stage and unfortunately had to abandon the race.

 

Tom Dumoulin said:

 

“Overall the plan worked out like we said before the race with Tobias in the break. On the last climb, I was just not good enough to follow but I kept on fighting. I’m still fifth in the general classification which is satisfying and I will aim to keep this position.”

 

“It was good teamwork today and we managed to get in the breakaway,” explained Tobias Ludvigsson. “The stage started at a really fast pace in the first hour. At the first category climb, I was not feeling great and I wasn’t able to follow the break. However, I was part of the chasing group and I started to feel better and we tried to close the gap with the leaders. In the end, the goal was achieved with Tom remaining in the 5th position of the GC.”

 

Coach Hans Timmermans said:

 

“We had two goals for today. To be in the breakaway and to protect Tom for a long as possible. We managed to accomplish both which was very good. Before the penultimate climb, Tom still had strong support from the guys and he was in a good position. However on the final climb he could not follow the best, he was always on the limit but he did a good job to limit his losses.”

 

Pierre Latour takes the white jersey with great ride in Romandie queen stage

Pierre Latour took the white jersey.

 

"We knew the weather would be difficult in the afternoon. Everybody protected me, brought me into position to put me in the best conditions at the bottom of the last climb which we climbed twice. From there, it was every man for himself. I hung on. Romain [Bardet] attacked several times. I also tried. I was a bloc, but I told myself that it would undermine the morale of the white jersey if I attacked. I tried two-three attacks and I saw that he was dropped. I saw he had cracked. Then I gritted my teeth,” he said.

 

“Thibaut then began to attack and I tried to follow. This white jersey is a pleasure and is better than nothing. Now I'll take a break of five days before participating in a training camp in Sierra Nevada (Spain).

 

Romain Bardet bounces back from illness in Romandie queen stage

"On Wednesday, I suffered from gastroenteritis. It was important to stay combative today. I did not have great sensations but I fought with my gut. I tried to go in the first breakaway. We were caught after 35 km, but I did not let go until the finish. 

 

“Since Liège-Bastogne-Liège, we have raced in the cold. This makes us vulnerable. That's what cost me this virus.”

 

"To take the white jersey with Pierre Latour was the goal since Wednesday and Romain Bardet’s disease,” said sports director Stephane Goubert. “It was a nice challenge. He is two minutes ahead on the eve of the final stage. The team fought well. Romain proved that he was able mentally to overcome the physical deficiencies. Pierre continues to progress at each race. This kid has an impressive mind.”

 

Mathias Frank: Chris Froome asked me if I was up for an attack

“I made a mistake,” Mathias Frank claimed, having just emerged from a warming shower and consuming a hot drink. “On the first climb to Villars, I felt comfortable and I gave my jacket to a teammate to take care of. I had no expectation that the temperature would drop so quickly and so low. On the descent to Ollon, the rain just penetrated me, and on the second climb to Villars, I was frozen. I tried to turn the legs, but I really suffered with each acceleration.”

 

“Before his attack, which would result in his winning the stage, Chris Froome asked me if I was up for an attack,” Mathias Frank admitted. “But to my mind, the finish was still too far away, and Movistar still had a lot of riders to chase. I just did not feel strong enough to try my luck.”

 

Rik Verbrugghe did not hide his frustration when summarizing the day. 

 

“We started with a strategy to go on the offensive for the finale. We did not succeed in doing that, largely because Movistar was setting a super-fast pace. Mathias managed to limit the damage through sheer courage. He suffered enormously from the cold and rain, and was beginning to have a hunger knock.”

 

After the queen stage, he is now in 8th place. The leader of the Swiss World Tour team has been overtaken by Rui Costa and Simon Špilak, but only by a handful of seconds.

 

Merhawi Kudus impresses in Tour de Romandie queen stage

After numerous attacks in the first 30km of the 4th Tour de Romandie stage, 11 riders finally managed to go clear of the peloton. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were represented by Cameron Meyer in the big break and they rode to a 2'00" lead just before reaching the first of 3 category 1 climbs on the day.

 

It was on this climb, the Col des Planches where 3 of the original breakaway riders attacked while Meyer and the others returned to the peloton. This is how the situation would remain for some time as Movistar controlled the peloton. The African Team were riding to place Merhawi Kudus in a good position and then it was up to the young Eritrean to test his legs on the two final climbs.

 

Kudus followed the tempo being set by the Movistar team in the group of favourites and going over the top of the Barboleusaz, the peloton was down to just 30 riders, Kudus and Kanstantsin Siutsou included from the African Team.

 

Kudus did well, following the moves right up until 4km to go where he then got distanced. The yellow jersey group followed just 5 seconds after Froome while Kudus was one of the next riders in, taking 17th on the stage.

 

“It was a very hard stage today. Our main objective was for Merhawi to go for a good result and also to have a good test before the Giro. We knew the weather was going to turn so we had staff members all over the last mountain with warm tea and jackets. The race started really fast with a lot of attacks, Cameron was part of a big move but that came back. The other guys were just looking after Merhawi and Kanstantsin. On the 1st cat 1 climb Kristian Sbaragli punctured so we lost him unfortunately but all the guys were really good.

 

”On the penultimate climb, right near the top, it started to pour with rain. Merhawi and Kanstansin were in the favourites group and Natnael was only about 20 seconds off. In the wet and with Movistar pacing he wasn't going to be able to make it back before reaching the valley. Kanstantsin was there with Merhawi though and he did an amazing job when it was all strung out. Merhawi rode well and it was only right at the end where he got tailed off from the big hitters. He can really be happy with his position and his form, considering the weather it was a really good day. One of the good things is we rode as a team, we wanted to look after Merhawi so we achieved our objectives,” sports director Oli Cookson said.

 

Sander Armee targets Quintana’s mountains jersey on final day in Romandie

There were a lot of attempts right from the beginning, among others Tomasz Marczynski tried to get away. After more than one hour of racing the break was formed. Eleven riders managed to obtain a significant gap, Sander Armée was part of that breakaway.  On the Col des Planches the front group was reduced to three riders: Armée, Jungels and Kochetkov. At 45 kilometres from the finish Armée was dropped from the front group.

His teammate Rafael Valls is now sixteenth on GC at 3’25”. Bart De Clercq abandoned the race due to illness and also Thomas De Gendt quit the race due to a perineal injury.

 

Sports director Marc Wauters saud: “The plan today was for one of our riders to get into the breakaway. Sander Armée went into a good break and in doing so, he also took a lot of points in the competition for the king of the mountains jersey. So he is now second in that classification behind Nairo Quintana. This means that the goal for tomorrow is for Sander to take some more points in that competition, so that he can attempt to win the overall classification. That would be a good result for the team.

 

”We also had another goal today, which was to put Rafael Valls into a good position on the final two climbs. He rode well, however, it ultimately wasn’t enough. He finished in 18th position on today’s stage, at 1’32” down on Chris Froome, which is not a bad result, however it still wasn’t exactly what we had planned for. Now he’s currently in 16th position in the general classification.

 

”The weather was also a significant factor today. It became very cold towards the end of the stage. We started today’s race with a temperature of around 20 degrees, but at the finish it was around only 3 degrees, so it was a very difficult stage for the riders today.”

 

Rafal Majka cracks in the cold at the Tour de Romandie

The Tour de Romandie’s Queen Stage was one that had the potential to change the face of the GC, with a final first category climb that encouraged an attack to the finish. However, on a day where the weather would challenge the resolve of even the toughest rider, beating the wet and wintery conditions became the primary concern for many riders. After a testing day where he managed to stay in touch with the chasing group much of the day, Rafal Majka finished the stage in 19th position, 1:49 after the stage winner.

 

Sport Director, Patxi Vila, summed up the impact the weather had on the race’s outcome.

 

“The stage went ok but the conditions made it really hard today. We put Ivan Rovny in the break, which was the first goal of the day, and everything was going well, with Rafal feeling really good after the first climb. Then the weather came in later on and the temperature dropped to 3 degrees and started raining.”

 

9.1km out, a group attacked to try to bridge to the break again, and it was at this point that the weather was beginning to get the better of Majka, as Vila explained from the finish.

 

“The race just exploded and Rafal was struggling with the cold – it turned into a day of survival. Of course he tried and gave everything he had, but he was disappointed to drop down the GC. When the temperature dropped it became hard and he couldn’t stay with the lead riders and we will learn from this for the Giro.“

 

While dropped by the lead riders, Majka stayed in touch as part of the remainder of the chasing group, still managing to stay in contact as conditions worsened the higher up the climb, before this group finally lost contact with the chasers 4km from the end. Finishing the stage in 19th position, 1:49after the stage winner, Majka dropped to 15thin the GC.

 

On an exceptionally tough day, the outcome could have been much worse, and became less a race for positions or time, but simply one to finish the day. Vila was happy most of the team finished today.

 

“The other guys all made it through ok apart from Robert Kiserlovski who stopped as he wasn’t feeling great, but it was just freezing cold today and a race of survival at the end.”

 

Bob Jungels tests his Giro d’Italia form with big ride in Romandie

The escape was formed after the first hour, and included two Etixx – Quick-Step riders, Bob Jungels and stage 1 winner Marcel Kittel. They didn't stick together for too much time, as the tough climbs took their toll on many of escapees, who were distanced and reeled in by the bunch. Only Jungels and Kochetkov stayed at the front for the last part of the stage, while behind the peloton was becoming more and more slim, as a result of the rain, cold temperatures and Movistar's pace. On the penultimate climb, Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC) attacked and got a good gap, before cresting the ascent and making the junction to the two leaders on the descent. Together, they made sure that the advantage over the chasers will increase by the point they'll arrive at the foot of the final climb.

 

First to get dropped from the group was Kochetkov, who was already latching at the back, while Jungels – who's preparing for his Giro d'Italia debut, next week – managed to stay with Froome and Van Garderen for a couple of minutes more, before he too was distanced.

 

Not only Bob Jungels gave it his all and made the most out of this hard stage, but also Carlos Verona. The Spanish rider of Etixx – Quick-Step began the final ascent together with the main group, and although he couldn't respond to the attacks of the favourites, he put on a strong ride on the challenging 8.9-km long climb and at the end of the stage he jumped five positions in the general classification led by Nairo Quintana, to 20th place, with one stage to go (Ollon – Geneva, 172 kilometers).

 

”What a stage. It was planned to test my legs but maybe not in that exact way. Congrats to @chrisfroome , great ride,” Jungels tweeted after the stage.

 

Damien Howson loses white jersey in Romandie queen stage

Another strong ride by Damien Howson for Orica-GreenEDGE on a mountainous and wet stage five at the Tour de Romandie today saw the young Australian finish just behind leaders as he climbed with some of the best riders in the world.

 

A wet and miserable penultimate stage in Switzerland was won by a late attack from Chris Froome (Team-Sky) who rode away on the final climb of the day and held on until the finish. Howson in the races best young riders jersey produced a fantastic performance to make the final selection and stay with the leaders all the way to the summit finish.

 

Sport director Neil Stephens praised the 23-year olds consistency over the course of the race.

 

“Damien (Howson) has really taken his opportunity here,” said Stephens. “He has been in or around the top twenty everyday and it’s fantastic to see him climbing with the best guys in the world.

 

“It was around five degrees all day long and the rain started to fall heavily in the final third of the race but Damien positioned himself really well and rode with confidence throughout the stage.”

 

“We knew that it was going to be difficult to maintain the young riders jersey,” continued Stephens. “It is a very close run category with many strong riders in there. Damien is less than two minutes down in second place and he did everyone proud today with his performance.

 

“It is another difficult day tomorrow but we will be up there as we were today and we will do our best to give Damien the opportunity to finish strongly.”

 

Wilco Kelderman sits up on bad day in Romandie mountains

Wilco Kelderman lacked the strength to play a key role in the Tour de Romandie’s queen stage on Saturday in Switzerland. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s leader was in trouble already on the first of the three tough climbs and eased off. Chris Froome (Team Sky) won the stage.

 

“It wasn’t for us today,” Sports Director Frans Maassen said. “We saw it already after 80 kilometres. Martijn Keizer and Wilco Kelderman had to leave a small gap on the first climb and everything became clear afterwards. Wilco let them go and that was the best decision when you’re looking at tomorrow’s stage.”

 

Maassen sees opportunities for the breakaway in the final stage of the Swiss race.

 

“The riders climb 1800 metres, so it’s going to be a tough challenge for the sprinters to survive that. It’s going to be an important day for us, and we want to show ourselves. We will give our final judgement afterwards.”

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