Simon Spilak (Katusha) beat Chris Froome (Sky) by a half-wheel length in a two-up sprint at the end of stage six of the Tour de Romandie on Friday.
Froome had attacked with 25 kilometres to go on the ascent of the final classified climb of the stage, dropping Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). Spilak was the only rider with the legs to bridge up to Froome, and the pair crested the climb together having gapped Nibali by 55 seconds.
Froome and Spilak managed to maintain the gap on the wet descent and then worked well together on the short flat section into the line in Aigle. The two riders then engaged in a sprint for the line, with both lunging across the white marker mindful of valuable bonus seconds for the win… and race lead.
The pair must have then breathlessly watched the clock to see how much time they had put into the chase group. World champion Rui Costa (Lampre) led the Nibali group in for third at 57 seconds, effectively ruling everyone other than Froome and Spilak out of overall contention.
Spilak now leads Froome in the general classification by one second with two stages remaining, a flat stage on Saturday and the finale on Sunday against the clock – which on paper firmly favours defending champion Froome.
Tour de Romandie 2014, stage three: Le Bouveret to Aigle, 181km
1. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha in 5-09-23
2. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at same time
3. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida at 57 secs
4. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
5. Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar
6. Mathias Frank (Sui) IAM Cycling
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at same time
8. Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar at 1-41
9. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ
10. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp at same time
Overall classification after stage three
1. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha in 11-39-25
2. Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 1 sec
3. Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida at 1-02
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 1-06
5. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling at 1-10
6. Beñat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar at 1-13
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 1-14
8. Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar at 1-40
9. Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar at 1-48
10. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp at 1-50
Michael Albasini takes second stage win and heads up general classification in Montreux
Orica-GreenEdge rider Michael Albasini wins snow-shortened opening road stage in Switzerland
Images from the opening day of the 2014 Tour of Romandie, a prologue time trial won by Michal Kwiatkowski