Michael Woods (Israel Start-up Nation) was thrilled to take the victory on stage 4 of the Tour de Romandie, but not at the expense of Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), who crashed in the two-up sprint to the finish line at the summit of Thyon.
Woods' victory secured him the overall race lead heading into the final stage 5 time trial on Sunday.
"I was close [to victory] several times and I really felt like a big one was coming, and this certainly was it. I’m really proud with how I raced today," Woods said in a post-race interview with CyclingPro.
"I didn’t want to take the jersey the way I did. I didn’t want Geraint to go down, but it’s cool to be wearing the leader’s jersey tomorrow."
Woods started the penultimate stage in 16th place overall and 16 seconds down from overnight leader Marc Soler (Movistar). He attacked on the upper slopes of the final 20km ascent to Thyon.
Thomas, who started the day in second place overall, 14 seconds behind Soler, caught up to the Canadian and then drove the pace for the final two kilometres of the ascent, looking to maximize his GC gains.
"The longer climbs are normally not my skillset but I’ve improved quite a bit in that discipline over the last few years. I felt really good today knew that I had to go on the attack, and it played out well," Woods said of the final 21km ascent that finished at the Thyon 2000 ski resort.
Inside the last 100 metres, Woods started his sprint, at which point Thomas rose from the saddle as he attempted to change gears, but his right hand suddenly slipped from the hoods, his front wheel turned and slipped on the wet surface, and he crashed with about 50 metres to go. The crash ended Thomas' chances of the stage win and also the overall race lead, which had looked assured.
Woods crossed the finish line to take the stage win and the overall leader's jersey, while Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën) passed Thomas to take second place on the stage. Thomas eventually got back on his bike and crossed the line in third.
Woods will lead the overall classification by 11 seconds ahead of Thomas into the stage 5 finale time trial, a 16.9km course in Fribourg, but he doesn't expect to win the overall title at the Tour de Romandie.
"It’s not enough time for me. Those guys can roll the time trials so well, and so I’m just going to enjoy being in the jersey now, and hopefully I can have a good time trial tomorrow," Woods said.
"Weather could play a role, it played a role today, too, and guys aren’t going to recover as fast. It’s still a good time trial for those guys, and so it will be hard for me to hold onto the jersey."
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