Marc Soler scored an impressive solo victory in the Tour de Romandie and took over the race lead from the Ineos Grenadiers rider Rohan Dennis, who crashed in the closing stages of stage 3. But the delight was muted by the death of Movistar's long-time team doctor, Jesús Hoyos, who the team said died on Friday during the stage from a 'brief and devastating illness'.
"I'm so happy about this victory. I want to remember, first of all, our team doctor for so many years, Jesús Hoyos, who passed away during the stage," Soler said. "I want to dedicate this victory to him; sadly, we lost him in just few weeks due to a terminal illness, and it's really sad for our entire team."
The weather in Switzerland was befitting of the sombre mood, with a steady rain and cold temperatures causing havoc for riders, especially on the two technical descents inside the final 15 kilometres.
Breakaway rider Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) crashed out of the move on the descent of the Châbles and race leader Dennis came down out of view of the cameras on the same descent.
Soler made his winning move on the final climb that topped out with 9.2km to go and finished with a 22-second advantage on the chasing group containing Ineos Grenadiers leaders Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte, who are now second to the Spaniard in the overall standings by 14 seconds heading into the queen stage.
"Such a hard stage, especially because of the rain and cold conditions. I was saving my move for the precise moment into that last climb - [Michael] Woods was going strong, there were several attacks into the group, and I wanted to try but not too early. I waited for those final 500 meters to make a real gap and hopefully take the stage win. In the end, it was stage and jersey," said Soler.
More bad weather is expected for Saturday's queen stage to the Thyon 2000 ski station and organisers have moved the start time up two hours in hopes the race can beat the worst of it. With an uncertain big mountain stage before the closing time trial on Sunday, it makes Soler's lead less than definitive.
"It always makes you happy to get a leader's [jersey] - and we will fight hard to retain it," Soler said. "Ineos is so strong, it's a small gap, even more so with their TT skills, but we will fight - we've got a strong team and will give our maximum, only the road will tell."
Soler crossed the finish line with a finger over his lips in a shushing gesture, which he explained, "Sometimes people doubt about what you can do, but we've always gone step-by-step, and things are turning out well. It gives us hope for the upcoming challenges, but before the Giro, it's all about this weekend."
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