The Trek-Segafredo climber sits 12th on the general classification, 15 seconds down on race leader and teammate Fabio Felline. The Italian, no stranger to performing well in mountain stages, is expected to come under severe pressure from the likes of Chris Froome and Richie Porte, both of whom need to attack in a bid to make up time in the overall classification.
“It’s is the hardest stage, but I don’t know what will happen. For sure, I’ll go full gas with Fellini,” Pantano told Cyclingnews at the end of stage 3 in the Tour de Romandie.
“It’s important we go with the best guys. I don’t know if tomorrow is a good stage for Fabio, but he’s strong,” the Colombian added.
Pantano had a breakthrough win in the Tour de Suisse last year, and at the Tour de Romandie he has the opportunity to lead Trek-Segafredo while Alberto Contador trains, and Bauke Mollema prepares for the Giro d’Italia. Should Felline falter in the mountains, Pantano has a slight advantage over Froome and Porte, who are 29 and 33 seconds behind respectively.
Trek-Segafredo has had the leader’s jersey since the opening day of action, after Felline took a surprise win in the prologue. Their method of defending the jersey came under criticism from Froome at the end of stage 1 when questioned the level of work that they had done to bring back the breakaway.
However, Trek carries huge confidence into the mountains, and Pantano says they won’t be holding back over the final weekend.
The penultimate stage of the Tour de Romandie features four classified climbs, three of which are first category and a summit finish to Leysin. The race will conclude with a 17.8km hilly time trial around Lausanne.