Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) consolidated his lead in the overall classification with a win on stage four of the 2019 Tour de Romandie.
After the race was reduced by 70km and the majority of the climbing taken out of the queen stage, the group of GC contenders left it late to try and dislodge Roglič from the race lead, with a number of attacks coming in the closing kilometres of the summit finish at Torgon.
With the help of his team-mate Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma), Roglič managed to stave off the attacks up the climb, even attempting a couple of moves himself that were quickly shut down by Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos).
In the finishing straight the Brit Hugh Carthy (EF Eduation First) jumped ahead, but Roglič quickly reeled him in and sailed past to claim the stage victory and firm up his GC lead.
Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) came across the line second, mirroring his second place in the overall classification, 12 seconds adrift of Roglič. Geraint Thomas finished third and moved back up to fourth place on GC, 26 seconds down on Roglič ahead of tomorrow’s final individual time trial.
How it happened
The original route for stage four was reduced by 70km under the UCI’s extreme weather protocol, with the second category Sorens and Saanenmöser and the first category Jaunpass and Col des Mosses taken out.
In their place, race organisers added in the third category Prévonloup, with the summit finish at the first category Torgon remaining as the only other climb on the revised 105.3km route.
The day’s break went away within the first five kilometres of racing, with a group of eight riders going clear: Simon Pellaud (Switzerland), Claudio Imhof (Switzerland), Jonas Gregaard (Astana), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale), Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto-Soudal), Daniel Martinez (EF Education First) and Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).
What was due to be an action-packed day of racing on the queen stage of the Tour de Romandie became a fairly pedestrian affair after the route change, and it was up the added third category climb at Prévonloup where Simon Pellaud sealed the king of the mountains jersey for the Swiss national team, reaching the summit first and amounting an unassailable lead.
Jumbo-Visma led the peloton in pursuit of the breakaway, who took the gap out to a maximum of just over two minutes, as the Dutch outfit looked to protect Primož Roglič’s lead in the overall classification, which looked much more comfortable after the alteration to the day’s stage.
As the race approached the Torgon, the final 10.5km first category climb of the day, the breakaway’s gap began to come down, with the group splintering and Remco Evenepoel dropping off.
As the life started to go out of the break, Daniel Martinez attacked in the foothills of the Torgon, looking for the stage victory, before Gougeard joined him at the front of the race with under 10km remaining.
Simon Špilak (Katusha-Alpecin) and Roland Thalmann (Switzerland) then attacked from the peloton, passing remnants of the breakaway, as the rain started to fall more heavily on the road and they pursued the leading pair together.
Cars and motos were pulled out from between the leaders and chase group with 6km to go, as the gap crashed down to only seven seconds.
Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) looked in fine form as the bunch decided this would be a GC day and they quickly reeled back in both the chase group and the lead duo of Martinez and Gougeard with just over 2km left to climb of the Torgon.
David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) was the first to show their hand in the GC battle, trying to jump with 3km to go on the road, as Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) quickly took his wheel. Emmanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) was next to try before Gaudu went over the top again with Kruijswijk shutting down all moves in defence of his team-mate Primož Roglič.
The reduced bunch of favourites reached the summit of the Torgon together, with Hugh Carthy (EF Education First) attacking soon after with Roglič then launching his attack, jumping clear of the peloton with relative ease.
Geraint Thomas then took the front and started to wind Roglič in, before Kruijswijk lost his wheel, but the pair were brought back in by Michael Woods (EF Education First).
The bunch raced towards the line with 500m to go, Hugh Carthy then tried to jump clear but Roglič proved too strong, sailing past with a couple of hundred metres to go and sealing the stage win ahead of Rui Costa and Geraint Thomas in second and third respectively.
Sunday’s fifth and final stage is an individual time trial in Geneva, where reigning champion Primož Roglič will look to defend his 12 second lead in the overall classification.
Tour de Romandie 2019 stage four: Lucens to Torgon (105.3km)
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 2-42-21
2. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates
3. Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Team Ineos
4. Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First
5. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
6. Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana
8. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
10. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin, all at same time
General classification after stage four
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 12-23-02
2. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates), at 12 seconds
3. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 16s
4. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos, at 26s
5. Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 29s
6. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 37s
7. Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First, at 38s
8. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 57s
9. Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar, at 1-00
10. Simon Špilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin, at same time