Geraint Thomas secured the overall victory at the Tour de Romandie with a time trial performance good enough to easily usurp Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation).
The Ineos Grenadiers’ rider already had half a minute on the Canadian at the intermediate time check on the 16km-long course, fulfilling Woods’ prediction that he had little chance to take what would have been a first stage race victory of his career.
Instead, it was Thomas who took his first victory since the 2018 Tour de France, a yellow jersey that hints the Welshman is back on track ahead of his return to the French Grand Tour this summer.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Remi Cavagna took the stage five win, while EF-Nippo’s Stefan Bissegger took second, six seconds down. Thomas was third on the stage, 17 seconds adrift, but nearly a minute ahead of Woods’ time.
There were also top 10 performances for three other Ineos riders, Richie Porte’s fifth place enough to boost him up to second on GC, while Rohan Dennis and Filippo Ganna closed out the top 10.
How it happened
EF-Nippo’s Stefan Bissegger was the first to give us a barometer to measure everyone else against, stopping the clock at 22 minutes after 16.19km, beating the previous best time of Ian Garrison (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) by nearly a minute.
Soon Ineos Grenadier’s Filippo Ganna had started, and he was 12 seconds down on Bissegger at the time check, not improving over the second half as he finished half a minute down on Bissegger, showing just how good of a time the Swiss rider had set.
Bahrain-Victorious’ Jan Tratnik then quietly set the third-best time of the day so far, soon pipped by Ineos’ Andrey Amador, before Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) then began his effort.
The French national time trial champion was going well, 17 seconds faster than Bissegger at the time check, then being the first to break the 22-minute barrier, setting the new fastest time at 21-54, holding on after fading over the latter half of the course.
Rain then began to fall, putting a spanner in the works for those riders still to come.
Groupama-FDJ’s Stefan Küng then came through the time check 22 seconds down on Cavagna, the rain getting harder now, eventually crossing the line 50 seconds down on Cavagna.
Movistar’s Miguel Ángel López then set the fourth-fastest time at the intermediate sprint, an encouraging start for the Colombian and a surprise given that his new team aren’t known for their prowess against the clock, but the 27-year-old faded and finished outside the top 10.
Rohan Dennis was now out on the course, the Ineos man dealing with the rain that seemed to only be affecting a specific section.
UAE Team Emirates’ Rui Costa was then cheered up the cobbled climb by fans waving Portuguese flags, 12 per cent of Switzerland’s foreign population being made up of his compatriots.
Magnus Cort then pulled off an impressive time, nestling himself inside the provisional top 10 despite his breakaway heroics yesterday, while Dennis soon crossed the line more than half a minute down on Cavagna, disappointing from the Australian.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step had certainly had their Weetabix this morning as Mattia Cattaneo stopped the clock with a time faster than both Ganna and Dennis, while both Marc Soler and Richie Porte set off, the upper echelons of the GC now making their way into the start hut.
Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) soon set the fourth-fastest time at the intermediate check, Porte following through soon after and only six seconds down on Cavagna, Soler 22 seconds in arrears to the hot seat.
Ben O’Connor, Geraint Thomas and Michael Woods, the top three on GC, were now out on the course, and Thomas was quicker than Cavagna at the time check.
Masnada gave it everything as he sprinted for the line, coming in only around 20 seconds adrift of his team-mates current best time, and into provisional fourth.
Porte was next across the line, slightly quicker than Masnada, 19 seconds behind Cavagna’s time, while Michael Woods’ prediction that he’d struggle in the time trial wasn’t a lie, more than 30 seconds down on Thomas at the checkpoint.
Soler followed, he’d not done enough to keep his fourth place from Porte, but had put in a respectable enough effort, inside the top 10.
Thomas then came across the line 17 seconds down on Cavagna, having not wanted to risk his overall title in a gut-busting effort in search of the stage win, and Woods was way off the pace when he eventually crossed the line, 1-11 slower than Cavagna, ceding the yellow jersey to the Welshman.
Tour de Romandie 2021, stage five: Fribourg to Fribourg – ITT (16.19km)
1. Remi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 21-54
2. Stefan Bissegger (Sui) EF Education – Nippo, at six seconds
3. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 17s
4. Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) Team DSM, at 18s
5. Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 20s
6. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 21s
7. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 29s
8. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar, at 34s
9. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 35s
10. Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers, at 37s
Final general classification
1. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, in 17-59-57
2. Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 28 seconds
3. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 38s
4. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar, at 39s
5. Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 43s
6. Ben O’Connor (Aus) Ag2r Citroën, at 45s
7. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Astana – Premier Tech, at 1-08
8. Lucas Hamilton (Aus) BikeExchange, at 1-22
9. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-Victorious, at 1-30
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 2-20