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Tour de Romandie 2018: Stage 4

Good afternoon an welcome to the queen stage of the Tour de Romandie. The riders have set off and racing is under way. We've had a number of attacks but after seven kilometres of racing the peloton is all together. 

If I were to give you one guess as to who is trying to go on the attack you'd probably say Thomas De Gendt, and you'd be right. The Belgian is getting feisty up front as the riders approach the first climb of the day, the Ovronnaz. 

It is not an easy start to the day and there are riders already in difficulty. There'll be plenty of sore legs after yesterday's mountain time trial. It was a rough day out for many and Quick-Step Floors lost four riders to the time cut. There were 10 riders in total that missed the cut. You can read our full report from yesterday's stage, here.

 

At the other end of the spectrum, Egan Bernal put in a stonking performance to take the stage win and climb to second overall in the standings. Primoz Roglic still holds a six-second lead in the general classification ahead of today's test.

 

1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo 8:39:39
2 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky 0:00:06
3 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:27
4 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:01:02
5 Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:17
6 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:22
7 Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
8 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:42
9 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
10 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:55

 

Only a few kilometres into today's stage and we've got our first abandon with Team Sunweb's Tom Stamsnijder climbing off. He was among the riders struggling on the Ovronnaz climb. 

 

Geraint Thomas is still in the race but he endured a rough day out in the time trial. He was one of those pipped for the stage win but he lost 2:33 on his teammate Bernal. Read the full story, here.

 

Steven Kruijswijk had a good day out yesterday, finishing fourth, which where he also stands in the overall classification. His teammate Roglic is in the race lead. This is what he told Daniel Benson this morning about today's offering.

 

""It’s hard to predict what will happen on the first climb. For sure, some guys will look to go on the first climb, any maybe some GC guys will put pressure on us. There’s also a flat part in the middle of the stage, but I think we need to follow the guys who are threats, and for sure we’ll try to defend the jersey for Primoz. If I can stay in the overall then that’s great but we’ll keep focused and we’ll do our best to keep the jersey.


"It’s hard to say if Sky will go early. Bernal is only six seconds back. The bonus seconds in the sprint could be important, so that’s also something for Sky to aim for as Bernal is quick in a sprint. Primoz is strong though and I can help him in a good way. If some of the top 20 guys attack on the first climb, maybe I can go with them. Then we don’t have to pull."

 

It is a warm day out there and riders were keen to find a bit of shade ahead of the start, as this picture from the start line in Sion shows.

 

 

134km remaining from 149km

After 15 kilometres of racing we have four riders holding a small advantage over the bunch. The riders up the road are Mikel Nieve, Thomas De Gendt, Tanel Kangert and Mathias Frank. 

 

You may have heard of the art of the deal, but what De Gendt knows is the art of the breakaway. The Belgian has already won a stage at the Tour de Romandie and at the start of this season he shared some of his knowledge on how to make a breakaway stick. Read the full story here.

 

Hugh Carthy has jumped across the gap to make it a five-man breakaway.

 

The gap to the leaders is extremely small at the moment as LottoNL-Jumbo sets the pace on the front. They don't want to make this easy for anyone. 

 

Simon Geschke's Team Sunweb squad are not in the running for the overall classification but he shared his thoughts earlier and what the other teams might do to take the leader's jersey from Primoz Roglic. 

 

"There are going to be attacks on the first climb and there’s going to be a very strong breakaway. It’s a short stage but with a lot of climbs. The pace is going to be high all day.

 

"Unfortunately. I don’t think that the GC riders will attack on the first climb. The time gaps are so small that they won’t risk it. They’ll wait for the final climb. I think you can try and isolate Roglic. That would be our tactic too but we have to see. He’s a strong rider, and a strong descender. Other teams will try everything though."

 

Hugh Carthy leads the way over the first climb, taking 12 points in the mountains classification, with Thomas De Gendt in second place and Mikel Nieve in third. They are the only three left up front now with Steven Kruijswijk crossing the line in fourth as he leads race leader Roglic over the top. 

 

110km remaining from 149km

As the riders make their way down the descent, the three leaders have 58 seconds on the peloton. Is this the day's move? The peloton will not want to let De Gendt get too much room out there after his efforts on stage 2. 

 

Andrey Amador (Movistar) and former mountain biker Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain-Merida) have bridged over to make it a five-man group again. The gap is growning slowly and now stands at just over a minute. 

 

If you haven't had a chance to yet, watch the first offering from Cyclingnews Films: The Holy Week. Of course, I am a little biased, but it is worth the watch and you'll still have enough change to get some popcorn from the shop. Find out more, here.

 

Bernal: I'll try to attack Roglic in Romandie but he's a complete rider https://t.co/KvKZYr2nHd https://t.co/bftmsdpy5I

@Cyclingnewsfeed Sat, 28th Apr 2018 12:30:11

De Gendt takes the intermediate sprint and adds another 15 to his tally. He is well clear in the standings at the moment. This is the top 10 after yesterday, although Campenaerts is one of those that headed home yesterday as he prepares for the Giro d'Italia. 

 

1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 82 pts
2 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky 60
3 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 60
4 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo 51
5 Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team 50
6 Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 44
7 William Clarke (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 43
8 Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates 37
9 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 37
10 Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal 33

 

After that rough start to the day, the road is mercifully flat for a short while before the riders must tackle four consecutive climbs. The first of those is the Vercorin, which comes just after the 70-kilometre mark. 

 

With 45 kilometres under their belt, the five escapees have 1:24 on the peloton. 

 

Yesterday's time trial shook up the general classification fight. Cyclingnews editor Daniel Benson and our correspondent, and former rider, Phillipa York, sat down to analyse the day's happenings in the latest Cyclingnews Podcast. Listen to it here.

 

The leaders have passed the finish line for the first time today. The next time will be for the victory, but first up we have our four climbs. The lead has grown out to 1:45 as the peloton keep a close eye on the quintet. 

This was the leaders crossing the finish line a little while earlier.

 

It is a good sign for Mikel Nieve that he managed to make it into the breakaway today. He broke his hip before he started racing this season and this is just his second event back after returning at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He is set to ride the Giro d'Italia, which starts next Friday. Cyclingnews spoke to him at the start of the Tour de Romandie.

 

Speaking of the Giro d'Italia, I'm going to smoothly segue into plugging our retro gallery, which you can find here. I know, that was so smooth I can hardly bear it. 

 

The gap between the five leaders and the peloton behind has been yo-yoing about between around 1:20 and 1:40. It's currently near the higher of the two as the leaders approach the second climb of the day. 

 

Richie Porte finished third in yesterday's time trial and sits third in the overall classification.This is what the BMC Racing rider had to say at the start in Sion.

 

"Roglic did a fantastic ride yesterday but no disrespect he doesn’t have the strongest team. I expect Team Sky to attack, either at the start or near the final. We’ll see what the situation is out there. The first climb is the hardest, so it might explode there. I don’t know. It’s hard one to predict.

 

"The race isn’t wide open, but as Roglic showed he’s strong, and if he’s dropped on the climb he’s probably the one guy who can still ride back. Bernal was super impressive. Luke Rowe was telling me during the week that Bernal and Sivakov were the real deal."

 

85km remaining from 149km

The riders are onto the Vercorin and the leaders have extended their advantage to 2:15.

 

Of the riders out front, Pernsteiner is the best placed in the overall classification just 2:35 down on Roglic. No wonder LottoNL-Jumbo are reluctant to give this breakaway such little rope. 

 

Dan Martin will be hoping for a good day today after a solid performance in yesterday's time trial. The UAE Team Emirates rider suffered a bit of misfortune during his Ardennes campaign last week but has been building his form at the Tour de Romandie. Read what he had to say after yesterday's time trial, here.

 

In the peloton, the numbers have been quickly diminishing on these tough roads. No news on any of the big favourites through race radio so we can assume that they are currently all in the pack. 

 

70km remaining from 149km

2:25 is the latest time check for the five escapees, just enough to prevent Pernsteiner from being the virtual race leader. A reminder that he is just 2:35 down on the overall standings. 

 

And, I spoke to soon. Race radio crackles into life and says that the new lead is 2:36, which does make Pernsteiner the virtual leader ahead of Roglic. Not that it will last for the Bahrain-Merida rider, but it's nice to know. 

 

Carthy adds another 12 points to his mountains classification tally. He started the day on 0 but now had 27 and is just three shy of Marco Minnaard's lead. However, Thomas de Gendt - who began the day on 13 - has taken 16 points across the two climbs and is now on 29. I'd put my money on Carthy overhauling De Gendt, but you just never know. 

 

News coming in that Carlos Betancur has abandoned. He's leading Movistar at the Giro d'Italia next week so let's hope that this was a planned exit and there is nothing wrong for the Colombian. 

 

News coming in that Carlos Betancur has abandoned. He's leading Movistar at the Giro d'Italia next week so let's hope that this was a planned exit and there is nothing wrong for the Colombian. 

 

You may have noticed that we've been counting down to the Giro d'Italia with a range of features, including several on the overall contenders. Today, we've taken a look at Canadian Michael Woods, who had a breakthrough top-10 at the 2017 Vuelta a Espana. Read what Woods had to say here.

 

Today saw the final stage of the Tour of Chongming Island with Kirsten Wild the third different winner in three days. Surprise stage 2 winner Charlotte Backer held on to claim the overall victory while Anna van der Breggen remains the top of the WorldTour rankings. See the full report here.

 

LottoNL-Jumbo are ramping up the pace and they've cut the gap to the leaders to 2:12. Is this the beginning of the end for the breakaway?

 

Another abandon to report. Stage 1 winner Omar Fraile climbs off.

 

60km remaining from 149km

Thomas De Gendt takes the points at the top of the third climb to move into the virtual lead of the mountains classification. We still have two more big climbs to come, but can the breakaway remain ahead of the peloton for long enough to reach them?

 

The results for the climb come through, Carthy beat De Gendt on the Nax climb, but it wasn't enough to overhaul the Lotto Soudal rider.

 

Some moves going off the front of the peloton with Martinez and Buchmann getting a small gap. Meanwhile, Tejay van Garderen looks to be in a world of pain as he dangles off the back. 

 

There are some other riders trying to get across and this chase group is growing. All this action has reduced the gap to the escapees to 1:14. 

 

Ion Izagirre has made it across to Martinez and Buchmann. He is 1:55 down and in 10th place in the overall standings. 

 

57km remaining from 149km

Buchmann looks to Izagirre to pull his weight, as Martinez jumps clear of the pair, but the Spaniard shakes his head. He's got a rider up front.

 

As it stands, the chasers are 49 seconds behind the leaders with the peloton at 1:02. The intermediate sprint is coming up. 

 

De Gendt takes the intermediate sprint points to extend his lead. He's currently in the lead of the points and mountains classifications. 

 

Apologies, that wasn't an intermediate sprint but another KOM, which De Gendt wrapped up eight points at while Carthy didn't contest it this time out. De Gendt therefore extends his lead in the mountains classification. 

Meanwhile, Team Sky have been setting the pace in the bunch as they try to isolate Roglic. It seems to be working with not too many flashes of yellow in the peloton as they sweep down the descent.

 

49km remaining from 149km

The gap between the leaders and the peloton is holding at 1:12 while the chasers are slowly making ground on the five up front and are just 29 seconds behind. 

 

Thomas De Gendt is really pushing down the descent and he's put Carthy and Pernsteiner into trouble and they really have to work hard to close the gap. Only Amador is anywhere close to the Belgian. 

 

Pernsteiner has lost touch with the leaders and it looks like he's waiting up for Izagirre in the chasing group. He takes the opportunity to get a gel into his system for the last big push over the Basse-Nendaz.

 

41km remaining from 149km

The chasers are just 19 seconds behind the leaders. De Gendt is doing his best to make the catch that much harder but they are making up ground. 

 

As the riders head towards the second intermediate sprint of the day and the final climb, they take on a bit of sustenance. They're going to need it for this brutal final. 

 

The leaders have just gone through that intermediate sprint with De Gendt taking the points. They quickly turn left and start the climb and De Gendt is immediately out of the back. He's done a lot today. 

 

De Gendt is caught by the chasing group, which also contains Pernsteinter, and he goes right to the back. We've got just three riders remaining up front with Carthy, Amador and Nieve, all very strong climbers. 

 

39km remaining from 149km

Team Sky have three riders on the front for Bernal. Roglic is right on Bernal's wheel with just Krujswijk for company. The peloton is only about 40 riders now while the leading group has grown after the chasers have caught up with the three remaining up front. It seems that De Gendt has been dropped again. 

 

De Gendt is caught by the David Lopez-led peloton. Geraint Thomas is in second wheel. He was one of the favourites ahead of the race but he cracked badly during yesterday's time trial. 

 

The pace is increasing behind and the gap to the leaders is quickly dropping. It's just 34 seconds as riders drop out the back of the bunch. This is a tough, tough climb. 

 

No movement yet from the peloton, but we should expect something soon. Roglic's rivals will want to try and crack him on this climb. 

 

37km remaining from 149km

Pernsteiner has finally cracked on dropped off the lead group. He was in the main breakaway before dropping back to help Izagirre bridge the gap to the leaders. He has done a fine job today. 

 

All the main contenders are in this peloton at the moment, aside from Ion Izagirre, who is in the leading group. Interesting fact about Izagirre: he did an erasmus in Scotland before he turned professional. 

 

Lotto Soudal puts a rider on the front briefly, which I'm sure that Sky will be happy about. The gap drops to 27 seconds before pulling off. EF Education first's Brendan Canty is off the back of the bunch and seems to have an issue with his bike. 

 

As the breakaway breaks up, Bernal has gone on the attack and Roglic has followed him. 

Richie Porte is chasing down Roglic and Bernal as they surge up the road. They have eased past the remnants of the breakaway. 

 

Bernal attacks again but he can't shake Roglic and they continue to bring back members of the breakaway. 

 

32km remaining from 149km

Fuglsang has joined up with Porte and Rui Costa is also there. They are nine seconds back on the leaders. Dan Martin is just off the back of this chasing group. 

 

After a flurry of attacks, Bernal has eased up. It looks like Costa has bridged over and Porte is about to make the juncture. Importantly for Roglic, Kruijswijk is about to make contact too. 

 

Rohan Dennis is struggling a little and he is further back down the mountain with Dan Martin. 

 

Up front, it looks like Costa has gone on the attack with Fuglsang not too far behind. 

 

The pair has 11 seconds on the Roglic group behind, which is about to be joined by Dennis after the Australian made a monumental effort to get in contact. 

 

17 seconds now for Costa and Fuglsang. With Martin struggling down the mountain, Costa is UAE's best shot at a result today. 

 

and the action is kicking off in the first chasing group as a Bernal goes on the attack again with Roglic super glued to his wheel. They've caught and passed Fuglsang but Costa keeps up with them. 

 

28km remaining from 149km

Porte has been distanced again but he's grinding his way back up. He doesn't seem to be able to react to the explosive attacks of Bernal. 

 

Another dig from Bernal and Costa is dispatched with. They are almost at the top of the climb. 

 

Bernal has attacked so many times on this climb but each time Roglic has responded to him. How much does either of them have left. Will one of them crack? 

 

Roglic takes a bottle from a member of his team as they approach the top of the climb. This is thirsty work and he's going to need everything that he can get. 200 metres to the top. 

 

Now Roglic attacks.

 

Bernal responds and the two almost come together as Bernal comes past Roglic over the top of the climb. Roglic gave him a bit of a squeeze towards the barriers but still leaves him with plenty of space. 

 

As they begin the descent, Porte and Costa join the two up front. Roglic is flying down this descent. He used to ski jump so something like this doesn't scare him. 

 

25km remaining from 149km

Meanwhile, Porte is struggling to keep in touch with the leaders on the descent. Remember, he had a horrible crash on a descent at last year's Tour de France. He regroups, however, and makes contact. 

 

Fuglsang is closing back in on the four leaders on this descent. He is a solid descender and has shut the gap to nine seconds. The third group is another nine seconds back. 

 

Fuglsang really is taking no prisoners on this descent, and has the leaders in sight. Bernal has another kick and catches Roglic out, who was behind Porte on the descent. The attack is short-lived and we now have five riders up front. 

 

20km remaining from 149km

We get a look at the second group on the road, which is Nieve and Izagirre. They're 38 seconds behind the five leaders and don't look like they're going to bridge up any time soon. 

 

16km remaining from 149km

The gap to the chasers is fluctuating as more riders join up with the effort. It went to over a minute but is now just about 50 seconds. 

 

Fuglsang spent much of the descent on the back and as they begin to climb for a brief moment he decides to attack with 15km to go. He gets a big gap.

 

The others in that leading group don't seem concerned with chasing Fuglsang. The Dane is 1:48 down in the overall classification. 

 

Costa leads group two but it is not a concerted chase and as the road dips down again Fuglsang has built a lead of 36 seconds. That's a big effort from the Astana rider. 

 

Astana already has a win from this year's race with Fraile beating Sonny Colbrelli to take victory on stage 1. It has been a great year so far from Astana, who won three of the five stages in last week's Tour of the Alps. 

 

Fuglsang is a former mountain biker and has some very good descending skills. He's using them to the maximum at the moment to keep this gap over the four riders behind. It's a fast and twisting descent and has me on the edge of my seat.

 

7km remaining from 149km

The gap grows a little more to 42 seconds and it looks like Fuglsang could just take this. It's still 7km to go but the chase behind is not at full tilt. 

 

5km remaining from 149km

Fuglsang finally hits the flat with an advantage of 40 seconds. 

 

In the chasing group, Costa continues to lead the way. He wants to close down Fuglsang but nobody is willing to help him. If they do catch Fuglsang he's likely to be so cooked that he may not have the legs to take the win. That's a big if as Fuglsang increases his advantage on the flat. 

 

It's smooth running in the Roglic group at the moment, but we're likely to see some attacks with the race lead on the line.

 

3km remaining from 149km

Porte moves up but he slots in behind Costa rather than in front. The Portuguese rider is not going to get any help as the gap sits at 45 seconds. 

 

If Fuglsang wins, which it looks like he will do, it will be his first win of the year. He's racked up a lot of top-10 places so far but this will be his first time on the top step of the podium in 2018. 

 

The lead is still 44 seconds and Fuglsang is not relenting. He can almost sense the stage win as he passes under the flamme rouge. 

 

The last 500m for Fuglsang.

 

Fuglsang wins stage 4 of the Tour de Romandie. He pushed all the way to the line. 

 

We wait for the time gaps to group two

 

Richie Porte is leading the way

 

It seems to be a photo finish between Roglic and Bernal for second place as they cross the line 47 seconds behind Fuglsang. 

Fuglsang is talking to Cyclingnews already and we'll have his reaction soon. 

 

Meanwhile, it seems that Roglic took the sprint for second and has extended his lead in the overall classification. 

 

Here is the top 5 from today's stage

 

1 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 04:18:48
2 Primoz Roglis (Slo) Astana Pro Team 00:00:48
3 Egan Arley Bernal (Col) Team Sky 00:00:48
4 Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:48
5 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 00:00:50

 

You can see by those results that Porte actually lost a couple of seconds to his rivals. With most of those behind him in the overall classification, hi podium place looks fairly secure. 

 

A quick debrief for Roglic as he warms down by the podium with his lead in the overall classification a little bit bigger ahead of the final stage. 

 

All the talk this morning was that Sky would need to isolate Roglic on the climbs and they did their best to do that, using their strength to burn off most of the LottoNL team. However, when it came to it, Roglic had Kruijswijk for company longer than Bernal had his teammates, not that he needed it as he managed every attack that Bernal dished out. Though he looked strong, Bernal was unable to manage a consistent enough barrage of attacks in order to break Roglic. 

 

All the talk this morning was that Sky would need to isolate Roglic on the climbs and they did their best to do that, using their strength to burn off most of the LottoNL team. However, when it came to it, Roglic had Kruijswijk for company longer than Bernal had his teammates, not that he needed it as he managed every attack that Bernal dished out. Though he looked strong, Bernal was unable to manage a consistent enough barrage of attacks in order to break Roglic. 

 

It will be interesting to see what Bernal can do tomorrow, but Roglic withstood what was deemed to be the sternest test of his overall lead. 

 

This is what today's stage has done to the overall standings at the Tour de Romandie.

 

1 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo 12:59:09
2 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky 00:00:08
3 Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team 00:00:35
4 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 00:01:16
5 Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates 00:01:23
6 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 00:01:32
7 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 00:02:32
8 Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 00:02:49
9 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:03:09
10 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates 00:03:12

 

Fuglsang started today's stage down in 15th place  so that's a pretty great effort to move into fourth with that attack. The gaps behind have grown quite a bit with the third group coming in more than two minutes behind Fuglsang. 

 

Here is Fuglsang talking to the press after his stage win. 

 

We have a brief report, results and photos from today's stage already in and there will be more very soon. You can find all of that here.

 

 

That is it from us today, we will have all the reaction from today's stage and full live coverage of tomorrow's final day of action. 

 

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