Nairo Quintana retains overall lead after a hard fought affair on a mountainous day in the Swiss race
Chris Froome (Team Sky) turned a bad week around at the 2016 Tour de Romandie, taking the stage victory on the summit finish of stage four after joining a breakaway earlier in day with Tejay van Garderen (BMC).
Having lost over 17 minutes on the last mountain stage of the race on stage two, Froome took the opportunity in the wet and windy conditions of Saturday’s stage to try and get a stage win.
The 172.7km route contained no less than five categorised climbs, with two ascents of the category one Barboleusaz in the closing 45km.
Froome, along with van Garderen (at 1-22 on GC), made a move on the first of those ascents to chase down Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quick Step), Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha) out front, who had been part of the original 11-man break of the day (which included Jungels’ teammate Marcel Kittel).
As they circled round the top of the climb and down the descent to take the pass again, Movistar began to look as though they were starting to chase in earnest, with the gap hovering around 40 seconds.
Watch: Pro bikes: Chris Froome’s Pinarello Dogma F8
Froome and van Garderen quickly dropped their companions on the final climb and with the gap growing to 52 seconds, but a hit out from Simon Spilak (Katusha) saw Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) then increase the pace with Quintana following.
But the cat and mouse between GC contenders Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) as well as Pinot and Quintana saw the gap hold, before Froome dropped van Garderen with 7.4km remaining and extended the gap to 54 seconds.
It quickly became apparent that those behind had no interest in chasing the Briton down, but constant attacks saw his lead down to only four seconds as he eventually crossed the line in victory, with no significant changes on GC.
It was a bad day for Froome’s teammate Geraint Thomas though, as he saw any hopes of a high GC placing slip away, looking well out of contention on the penultimate ascent of Barboleusaz.
The final stage of the Tour de Romandie sees the riders navigate a 177.4km course with two categorised climbs fairly early on, with a likely bunch finish at the end and very few chances for anyone to deny Quintana overall victory.
Tour de Romandie 2016, Conthey – Villars-sur-Ollon (172.7k)
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky, in 4-44-24
2. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Movistar, at 4 secs
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ
4. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha
5. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
6. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)
7. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida
8. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale
9. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing
10. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha, all same time
Overall standings after stage four
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, 12-07-03
2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, at 19s
3. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Movistar, at 23s
4. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha, at 26s
5. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin, at 57s
6. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida, at 1-12
7. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha, at 1-16
6. Matthias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling, st
9. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-24
10. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC, at 1-27