Micheal Woods takes Romandie race lead as Thomas crashes on the finish line
Geraint Thomas finds form but crashes uphill with 20m to go and finishes third. Race leader Marc Soler distanced on the final climb in the freezing wet conditions
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.
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 Magnus Cort remained of the escape group and his advantage was falling fast.
As snow appeared at the roadside and the Masnus was caught by Petilli who was in turn caught by Micheal Woods who pushed on with 3kms to go. Woods looked to have sewn up the stage but behind out of site Geraint Thomas and Masnada were reeling Woods back in.
Thomas attacked an caught Woods with 2.4 kms to go, in the finale Thomas upped the pace and Woods started to come round him, but with 20m to go Thomas' right hand slipped fom his handlebars in the freezing wet conditions and he tumbled to the ground. He got back up and finished the stage 11s behind Woods.
Thomas "I had no feeling in my hands"
“I had no feeling whatsoever in my hands and I tried to change gear but instead I just lost the bars,” Geraint Thomas who was leading the stage said.
“It’s so frustrating because even if I had just stayed in that gear and came second place … but to deck it there, I feel like a right whopper.”
“I’m fine, it’s more about frustration of such a hard day and to lose time like that at the end, it’s really frustrating, I just want to get into a hot shower now. I just need to have a shower and settle down and not be so emotional… and then think about tomorrow.”
“I don’t know what the gap is but I’ll try to make up that time again,” Thomas said. “I still have something to play for. I just wanted to win the stage. I just wanted to win something. It’s annoying for that to happen at the end.”
Tomorrow's final stage is a 16km Time Trial and although Thomas crashed, he's got to be a favorite for the overall race title.
VIDEO: 2021 Tour de Romandie Stage 4
2021 Tour de Romandie Stage 4 Top 10
1 Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation 4:58:35
2 Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team 0:00:17
3 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:21
4 Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange 0:00:34
5 Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:37
6 Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:42
7 Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
8 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 0:00:52
9 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:57
10 Thymen Arensman (Ned) Team DSM
2021 Tour de Romandie GC after Stage 4
1 Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation 17:37:35
2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:11
3 Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team 0:00:21
4 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:33
5 Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:36
6 Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:45
7 Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 0:00:48
8 Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange 0:00:49
9 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 0:01:04
10 Thymen Arensman (Ned) Team DSM 0:01:58