Dane Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) soloed away on the descent to Sion, Switzerland, to win stage four of the the Tour de Romandie, 48 seconds ahead of a spring among the GC contenders won by race leader Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo).
Roglič held off numerous attempts by Team Sky‘s Egan Bernal, stage three winner, to hold his lead. He won the sprint for second place and gained bonus seconds, now standing eight ahead of the 21-year-old Colombian with what should be an insignificant stage on Sunday.
“Everything worked out really good today,” Fuglsang said. “The others were more concerned for the overall classification, for me it was about the stage. I could go all in for the stage and it was to my advantage today.”
Fuglsang, who is leading a purple patch for Astana, attacked with under 20 kilometres to race. He left behind a group with Roglič, Bernal, Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) and Richie Porte (BMC Racing), who seemed to be suffering more than the others at times.
“Roglič is a good friend of mine, I hope that he’d at least sit back when I attacked. I saw on the climb that Bernal and Roglič were fighting each other so much and were so tired. I just worried about Costa closing to me,” Fuglsang continued
“This win is a big thing for me, I had a long period without a win since the Dauphiné last year. I had good form this year, but I haven’t won anything. So to finish this part of the season with a victory is great, I’m really happy with it.”
Fuglsang jumped up 11 places in the overall from 15th to fourth with his gains. The other four were concentrated on each other, however, with the 149.2km stage around Sion the last major mountain day.
Roglič defended his spot, but so did Bernal in second overall, Porte in third at 35 seconds and Costa in fifth at 1-23 minutes. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) slipped from fourth to sixth when the fireworks went off.
Bernal tried on several occasions to dislodge the Slovenian leader, with Roglič also countering at times. Australian Richie Porte drifted, but he and Costa rejoined for the descent to the finish.
How it happened
Brit Hugh Carthy (EF Education First-Drapac) joined the early escape group with Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Tanel Kangert (Astana) and Mathias Frank (Ag2r La Mondiale) to make five. However Carthy, Nieve and stage two winner De Gendt swiftly dropped the others on the first climb and continued as a trio.
Carthy gained the maximum mountain points on the first climb of fiv before. Andrey Amador (Movistar) and Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain-Merida) joined the trio to make five again. They held 2-15 minutes with 85km to race andnd 2-25 at 70km to go.
Carlos Betancur (Movistar) and Omar Fraile (Astana) abandoned. Carthy kept driving, taking the maximum mountain points on the third climb before De Gendt took the honours on the fourth climb.
Team Sky had been riding pace behind for Bernal and closed down the last remaining escapees on the last climb up Collons, at 1796m in altitude.
David De La Cruz led ahead of Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas in the early moments. In the final 35km, Bernal began launching a series of attacks, but nothing could shake 28-year-old Roglič. Over the top of the final climb and just 28km remained down to the finish where Fuglsang took the win and Roglič the bonus seconds for second place.
Tour de Romandie 2018, stage four: Sion to Sion, 149.2km
1. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, in 4-18-48
2. Primož Roglič (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 48 secs
3. Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky, at same time
4. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at same time
5. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing, at 50 secs
6. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing, at 2-09
7. Pierre Latour (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
8. Jaime Roson (Esp) Movistar
9. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
10. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data
General classification after stage four
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo, in 12-59-09
2. Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky, at 8 secs
3. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing, at 35 secs
4. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, at 1-16
5. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-23
6. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 1-32
7. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing, at 2-32
8. Pierre Latour (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 2-49
9. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 3-09
10. Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates, at 3-12