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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, May 2, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2020 Giro d'Italia

The audiobook version of The Story of the Tour de France, Volume 1 is available.

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Tour de Romandie stage four team reports

We posted the report from stage winner Michael Woods' Israel Start-Up Nation team with the results

Here's the report from Geraint Thomas' INEOS Grenadiers:

A late crash in the final 100 metres saw Geraint Thomas denied the opportunity to sprint for victory on the queen stage at Tour de Romandie.

The Welshman had powered through the mist to set up a two-way sprint for victory at the Swiss ski resort, but went down as he opened up his sprint against Michael Woods.

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas falls as Michael Woods dashes for the line. Sirotti photo

In sight of the finish, Thomas was able to remount to finish third but dropped a tantalising 21 seconds at the line. Despite that the Grenadier still sits second overall, just 11 seconds back on Woods, heading into Sunday's time trial decider.

Richie Porte was also present in the elite GC group on the tough final slopes. The Tasmanian was sixth on the day and now sits fifth overall, 36 seconds back.

In difficult conditions the team worked hard to position their leaders and ride tempo when required in the closing stages. The stage race concludes with a 16.2km time trial in Fribourg to decide the overall victory.

Reaction - Geraint Thomas:
"I just had no feeling whatsoever in my hands. I tried to change gear, but instead I just lost the bars. It's so frustrating - even if I'd just stayed in that gear and come second...

"I feel fine (physically), it's more the frustration after such a hard day, to lose time like that at the end.

"We'll try to make the time back tomorrow. 11 seconds behind - so it's all the play for."

Here's the report from fourth-place Lucas Hamilton's Team BikeExchange:

Australian Lucas Hamilton fought his way to fourth place on stage four of the Tour de Romandie after attacking on the summit finish to Thyon to move up to eighth overall.

The weather played its part in a dramatic stage with a brief neutralisation of the race seemingly playing into the hands of the early breakaway. As the race resumed the gap back to the peloton stood at five minutes, with the bunch forced to work hard to bring the escapees back.

The stage came down to a battle on the final climb with Hamilton going on the offensive and making his move with five kilometres remaining. The 25-year-old was joined by several riders as counterattacks were launched and the remains of the breakaway were reeled back in.

Hamilton continued to climb at his own pace despite further attacks being launched around him, with the Team BikeExchange rider finishing off a measured ride with a solid fourth place, 34-seconds down stage winner and new race leader Michael Woods.

Michael Woods

Michael Woods finished alone and took over the race lead.

Lucas Hamilton:
“I just rode my own pace really, when I attacked I just settled into my own pace, I didn’t worry about what was going on behind. It was one of those climbs, because you finish so high, if you made a little bit too much of an effort, you’d really pay in the end, so I just had to pace it.

"To be honest my TT has been my weak spot, so I’m hoping to just keep progressing in it and tomorrow is a good opportunity at the end of a tour to try and get better.”

Julian Dean (Sports Director):
“It was a super tough day again, we were lucky that we started in the dry today, but the last two climbs were really testing, challenging cold weather and rain.

"We were putting a lot on today, all week we’ve been thinking about today and trying to get Lucas to that final climb in as good a position as possible and as fresh as possible. The strategy was for him to not sit back and wait, he’s as good as any of these best climbers in the world.

"We tried to encourage him to be a little bit aggressive, he attacked and got a gap and he had a good ride, he can take a lot of confidence from today.”

New King of the Mountains Kobe Goossens' Lotto-Soudal team sent me this report:

After being the last man standing of yesterday’s early breakaway, Lotto Soudal rider Kobe Goossens went again on the attack as the rain came pouring down in stage four of the Tour de Romandie. The 25-year-old’s attacking spirit paid off as Goossens collected enough mountain points on the way to Thyon 2000 to take over the lead in the mountains classification from the Swiss rider Joel Suter. As there are no more mountain points to be gained in tomorrow’s closing time trial in Fribourg, Goossens only has to finish inside the time limit to take home the jersey.

“This mountain jersey is my first leader’s jersey as a professional, and to realise this in a WorldTour race, makes it even more special. In addition, the weather conditions and the long climbs made for a brutally tough stage. It is one of the most epic days on the bike in my career so far”, Kobe Goossens said.

After a fast start to the stage, Goossens went again on the attack. Teammate Matthew Holmes was also part of the breakaway.

“From the start, there was a clear plan to go in the breakaway and it maybe was a little easier to be part of it, compared to yesterday. But I certainly didn’t get the mountain jersey for free, I had to fight for every point. Matthew Holmes as an extra teammate in the breakaway was of course also an additional asset.”

Following a brief neutralisation of the race in the descent of the penultimate climb, the early breakaway started the gruelling twenty kilometres long final climb towards Thyon 2000 with more than five minutes advantage. Magnus Cort Nielsen was the last survivor of the early break of seven, but at the very end, the GC guys battled it out for the win. It was Mike Woods who rode to victory and the leader’s jersey

“Yesterday’s stage really had its impact on me. I didn’t feel great all day and at the bottom of the final climb, I immediately chose my own pace. I felt that I had spent my best forces and I certainly wasn’t thinking about the stage win anymore. With the weather conditions and the course we had to endure the past days, I think nobody felt really fresh anymore. Tomorrow is the closing time trial, in which I only have to finish to secure the mountain jersey. Depending on how I feel, I will go flat out one last time. After that, the focus shifts towards my first Giro d’Italia”, concludes Kobe Goossens.

Wilco Kelderman's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

An epic finale was predicted for the Tour de Romandie’s Queen Stage, with the start time brought forward due to forecasted snow at the finale in Thyon after 161.3km and more than 4,600m of hard climbing. Five categorised climbs would test the riders, the last of these being to the summit finish. It would be the last opportunity for the climbers to take time ahead of the final day’s time trial, but this didn’t stop seven breakaway riders making the move early on over the opening third category climb, quickly building a time gap of six minutes. As the climbs got higher, the weather got worse and first rain started to soak the riders, before foggy conditions made visibility poor on the fast descents.

Stage start

The stage start weather wasn't too bad....

These conditions led to the race organisers neutralising the descent of the penultimate climb, the Suens, meaning the fireworks were only going to start for the GC race on the final climb, 20.7km long with maximum gradients of 10%. It was here that the breakaway fell apart and the peloton started to ride, a combination of the poor conditions and incredibly tough climbing thinning the bunch into a select GC group, while one solo rider remained of the escape group and his advantage was falling fast.

Wilco Kelderman was sitting mid-pack in the GC group and was hiding the signs of the day’s exertions from his face. As snow appeared at the roadside and the break was caught, the attacks for the overall race started and, while the Dutch rider held on as long as he could as his rivals slipped off the back, the freezing conditions were just too much and he dropped back. Never one to give up, Wilco pushed on hard and crossed the line in eleventh position.

From the Finish Line:
"The first part of the race was quite bearable, despite the heavy rain, but the final part was extremely cold. I was really struggling in the descents but I tried to fight all the way to the finish. Unfortunately, I didn't get the result I came here for but actually, for me, I would say it was survival mode and try to get the best out of it. Tomorrow is another day and we'll see how this week gets to finish." – Wilco Kelderman

"We had extremely bad weather conditions with rain, fog and even some snow. Particularly in the second half of the race, the going was very tough. Nevertheless, Wilco fought for every second and in the end he had to settle for 11th place. Unfortunately, we couldn't do any better in this bad weather." – André Schulze, Sports Director

And here's the report from Fausto Masnada's Team Deceuninck-Quick Step:

Rain continued to pour on the peloton at this week’s World Tour race on Saturday, and as if this wasn’t enough, forecast of snow on the final climb of stage 4 prompted the organisers to move the start two hours earlier. Soon after the flaw was waved, a breakaway took shape, and Josef Cerny was there for Deceuninck – Quick-Step, delivering some strong turns that helped the seven-man group start the last difficulty of the day with a gap well north of five minutes.

On the tough Thyon 2000, the group was blown to pieces and riders got caught by the peloton one by one. The massive effort he put in throughout the stage meant that also Josef Cerny got pegged back by what was a diminished bunch just ahead of the toughest section of the ascent. A series of attacks with four kilometers to go enlivened the race on what was a miserable day of racing, Fausto Masnada being among those who bolted away from the disorganised field.

His attack drawn two other riders, who went out in pursuit of Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation), at that moment the sole leader of the race. The Italian, who is making just his third appearance of the season in Switzerland, tapped out a strong rhythm mounting a solid chase before losing contact with his companions at the 2km-to-go mark.

Masnada finished the rain-soaked stage around half a minute behind Woods, the solid effort he produced propelling him inside the top 10 overall at the Tour de Romandie. With just an individual time trial standing between the riders and the conclusion of the Swiss race, Fausto is sixth and on the verge of racking up his best result of the season.

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