Tour de Romandie: Woods wins stage 4 and takes overall lead as Geraint Thomas crashes at summit finish

Michael Woods claimed victory on a dramatic queen stage of the Tour de Romandie, as Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) crashes in the final 50 metres of the final climb to squander the overall lead.

The Ineos rider lost control of his bike as the pair sprinted for the line at Thyon 2000, his hand slipping from his handlebar as he rose from the saddle.

As he crumpled to the floor, Woods celebrated and Ben O’Connor nipped past for second place, with Thomas picking himself up to finish third at 21 seconds.

With Marc Soler (Movistar) dropped and finishing ninth at 53 seconds, Thomas had appeared set to inherit the leader’s yellow jersey but the crash leaves him second overall at 11 seconds.

He’ll be expected to recoup that time in Sunday’s final time trial but it was a sour note to end what had been a fine display on the wet and foggy 20km final climb.

Thomas’ bizarre crash was the final twist in a tumultuous day of racing in yet more miserable conditions. The stage had already been moved forward two hours to avoid the forecasted snow, and the descent from the penultimate climb of Suen – itself a category-1 ascent – was neutralized mid-race due to the thick fog and wet conditions.

There was potential controversy as the seven-man breakaway were led down at a faster rate and gained more than a minute before the race was opened up again. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo), who started the day just 59 seconds down, saw hopes of the stage win and an unlikely yellow jersey but his brave effort ended when his legs emptied just under 5km from the summit of the final climb.

In the end, the neutralization made no difference to the overall complexion of the race, as Woods attacked from the thinning GC group and flew clear. Thomas initially stayed with Soler and his teammate Richie Porte – third overall – but attacked with just over 3km to go and made his way past earlier attackers Lucas Hamilton (BikeExchange), Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck-QuickStep), and O’Connor on his way over to Woods.

Thomas then drove the pace for the final two kilometres, looking to maximize his GC gains, as Woods managed to hold the wheel. Going into the final 200 metres, Woods started to open for the stage win but Thomas managed to move back alongside. Woods kicked again, at which point Thomas rose from the saddle, but his right hand suddenly slipped from the hoods, his front wheel turned and slipped on the wet surface, and he crumpled to the floor.Woods punched the air as O’Connor came past before a grimacing Thomas dragged himself to the line.

Woods now leads the Tour de Romandie by 11 seconds from Thomas, with O’Connor third at 21 seconds.  Soler slips to fourth at 33 seconds, with Porte rounding out the top five at 36 seconds.

How it unfolded

The 161km stage started out with an early category-3 climb at Chamoson, where Joel Suter (Swiss Cycling) extended his lead in the mountains classification on the climb where he’d collected so many points on stage 1.

However, by the day’s end, the jersey would slip from his shoulders as one of his main rivals in the classification, Kobe Goossens (Lotto Soudal) slipped into the day’s breakaway. Swiss Cycling had Simon Pellaud in the move, who mopped up many of the points on the subsequent climbs, but that didn’t stop Goossens from collecting enough to take the jersey.

Goossens had a teammate in the seven-man break in Matthew Holmes, and the other four representatives were Cort, Josef Cerny (Deceuninck-QuickStep) Simone Petilli (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) and Mads Wurtz Schmidt (Israel Start-Up Nation).

They built a lead of six minutes over the second climb of the day, the 13km category-1 ascent to Anzères, where Pellaud took maximum points but Goossens helped himself to the next best haul. The descent was followed by the short category-3 climb at Lens, where the same situation played out.

After another descent, there were some 40km on two loops of a valley road around the start town of Sion, where the time gaps remained stable. Cort won the first intermediate sprint to gain not only points but also a time bonus to reduce his virtual overall deficit to 56 seconds.

With just over 50km to go, the stage intensified, with the Suen climb – 13.6km at 6.8 per cent – preceding the summit finish at the Thyon ski resort. Schmidt was dropped from the break, as his teammate Chris Froome was dropped from the peloton.

Otherwise the two groups made their way steadily up into the fog, which thickened in the final few kilometres to the extent that the race organization took the decision to neutralize the first 3km of the descent. Time gaps were to be frozen at the top of the climb, with cars to guide each group down the other side. The decision appeared to be taken swiftly and communicated clearly but there were question marks over the way it was enacted as the breakaway were led down at a visibly quicker rate than the peloton, which was bunched up behind the director’s car.

By the time both groups had been let loose on the descent’s plateau, what was a gap of 3:45 had extended to almost five minutes. With Goossens also a GC danger at 1:24, it threatened to alter the complexion of the entire Tour de Romandie. That certainly looked the case as the break extended their lead on the bottom section of the descent, taking some 5:45 onto the 21km final climb.

That threat persisted as Movistar – despite a couple of brief interruptions from Ineos – led the bunch but failed to make inroads into the gap for nearly half of the climb. Holmes was quickly dropped from the break, followed by Cerny, as Cort forged clear with Petilli on the lower slopes, leaving Goossens and Pellaud to chase.

14km from the top, the front two had barely lost 20 seconds, but their lead did start to fall and then tumbled when Ineos took over from Movistar through Eddie Dunbar and Rohan Dennis. The pair took the reins with 10km to go and did the damage on the steepest section of the climb, with ramps in the double digits. With 9km to go it was down to four minutes and another minute fell in the next couple of kilometres.

The bunch really shattered when Soler put in a surprise dig with around 7km to go. It was short-lived, but only a dozen or so riders remained. Dennis continued his effort but was forced to pull aside when Hamilton re-opened the hostilities with 5km to go. O’Connor and Woods reacted to form a trio but Woods soon left them behind.

Up the road, Cort was cracking, draining an energy gel in desperation. He was caught by Petilli with just over 4km to go, and then by Woods, who soon flew into the lead.

Thomas then decided to make his move, leaving Porte to mark Soler in a small group with only Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) and Ion Izaguirre (Astana). He breezed past Hamilton, Masnada, and then O’Connor to join Woods, and the pair rode away together in the final 2.5km.

O’Connor dangled just off the back but was distanced when Thomas issued another seated acceleration. Woods sprang from the saddle but never came through, biding his time for a final sprint for the line. His initial surge was matched by Thomas, but when he made his final acceleration he looked around and saw the Ineos rider in a heap.

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Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation 4:58:35
2Ben O'Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team 0:00:17
3Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:21
4Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange 0:00:34
5Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:37
6Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:42
7Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
8Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 0:00:52
9Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:53
10Thymen Arensman (Ned) Team DSM 0:01:57
11Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
12Simone Petilli (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:02:20
13Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma 0:02:45
14Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates 0:03:00
15Mattias Skjelmose (Den) Trek-Segafredo 0:03:25
16Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:03:28
17Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama-FDJ 0:04:17
18Louis Meintjes (RSA) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:04:40
19Matteo Badilatti (Swi) Groupama-FDJ 0:05:00
20Simon Pellaud (Swi) Swiss National Team 0:05:34
21Rohan Dennis (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers 0:05:53
22Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
23Felix Gall (Aut) Team DSM 0:06:18
24Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) Team DSM
25Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-Nippo 0:06:46
26Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 0:07:22
27Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain Victorious
28Eddie Dunbar (Irl) Ineos Grenadiers 0:07:36
29Rein Taaramäe (Est) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:08:09
30Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis 0:08:15
31Kobe Goossens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
32Gijs Leemreize (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 0:08:29
33Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Trek-Segafredo
34Ben Zwiehoff (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:08:40
35Jose Herrada (Spa) Cofidis 0:09:09
36Steff Cras (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:09:38
37Mathias Fluckiger (Swi) Swiss National Team 0:10:55
38Julien El Fares (Fra) EF Education-Nippo 0:12:06
39Rob Power (Aus) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:13:03
40Antonio Tiberi (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:13:09
41Clément Champoussin (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 0:13:34
42Jan Bakelants (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:14:27
43Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious 0:14:34
44Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Movistar Team 0:15:09
45Cristian Camilo Muñoz Lancheros (Col) UAE Team Emirates 0:15:55
46Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto Soudal 0:16:29
47Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:17:15
48Davide Villella (Ita) Movistar Team 0:17:44
49Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:18:03
50Dario Cataldo (Ita) Movistar Team
51Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) Team BikeExchange
52Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Jumbo-Visma
53Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
54Damien Howson (Aus) Team BikeExchange
55Sander Armée (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:18:56
56Dion Smith (NZl) Team BikeExchange
57Javier Romo Oliver (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
58Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Israel Start-up Nation
59Jonathan Caicedo (Ecu) EF Education-Nippo
60Alessandro Covi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
61Diego Camargo Pineda (Col) EF Education-Nippo
62Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
63Sergio Henao Montoya (Col) Team Qhubeka Assos
64Chad Haga (USA) Team DSM
65Andrey Amador (CRc) Ineos Grenadiers
66Marco Brenner (Ger) Team DSM
67Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
68Rodrigo Contreras Pinzon (Col) Astana-Premier Tech
69Stephen Williams (GBr) Bahrain Victorious
70Tejay van Garderen (USA) EF Education-Nippo
71Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
72Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain Victorious
73Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
74Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 0:20:03
75Brent Bookwalter (USA) Team BikeExchange 0:21:02
76Niklas Eg (Den) Trek-Segafredo
77Marc Hirschi (Swi) UAE Team Emirates 0:21:28
78Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:22:29
79Carlos Barbero (Spa) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:23:10
80Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Israel Start-up Nation
81Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R Citroën Team 0:24:26
82Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
83Iljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:24:36
84Josef Cerny (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep
85Owain Doull (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:26:04
86Joel Suter (Swi) Swiss National Team 0:26:15
87Jake Stewart (GBr) Groupama-FDJ 0:26:40
88Tony Martin (Ger) Jumbo-Visma 0:27:23
89Jos van Emden (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
90Jaakko Hänninen (Fin) AG2R Citroën Team 0:28:35
91Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 0:29:39
92Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo 0:30:42
93Thomas Champion (Fra) Cofidis 0:31:54
94Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-Nippo 0:32:34
95Matthias Reutimann (Swi) Swiss National Team
96Matthew Holmes (GBr) Lotto Soudal 0:32:38
97Gerben Thijssen (Bel) Lotto Soudal
98Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:33:39
99Fabian Lienhard (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
100Johan Jacobs (Swi) Movistar Team
101Natnael Berhane (Eri) Cofidis
102Joab Schneiter (Swi) Swiss National Team
103Davide Martinelli (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech
104Cyrille Thiery (Swi) Swiss National Team
105Ian Garrison (USA) Deceuninck-QuickStep
106Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
107Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
108Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Start-up Nation
109Mathias Norsgaard (Den) Movistar Team
110Chris Froome (GBr) Israel Start-up Nation 0:33:43
111Charlie Quarterman (GBr) Trek-Segafredo
112Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team 0:33:49
113Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cofidis 0:34:10
114Alex Edmondson (Aus) Team BikeExchange
115Dylan Sunderland (Aus) Team Qhubeka Assos
116Jordi Meeus (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:34:15
117Juraj Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:34:39
118Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) UAE Team Emirates 0:34:50
119Tom Bohli (Swi) Cofidis 0:34:59
120Manuele Boaro (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech 0:35:24
121Matteo Moschetti (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:35:27
122Claudio Imhof (Swi) Swiss National Team
123Albert Torres Barcelo (Spa) Movistar Team 0:35:58
124Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:37:53
DNFPhil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain Victorious
DNFAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
DNFAlex Dowsett (GBr) Israel Start-up Nation
DNFFilippo Conca (Ita) Lotto Soudal
DNFJan Hirt (Cze) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNSOliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
DNSNico Denz (Ger) Team DSM
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Sprint 1 - Sion km. 87.6
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-Nippo 15
2Simone Petilli (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 10
3Matthew Holmes (GBr) Lotto Soudal 6
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Sprint 2 - Vex km. 133.8
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-Nippo 15
2Simone Petilli (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 10
3Matthew Holmes (GBr) Lotto Soudal 6
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Sprint 3 - Thyon 2000 km. 161.3
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation 30
2Ben O'Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team 25
3Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 22
4Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange 19
5Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 17
6Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers 15
7Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 13
8Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 11
9Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 9
10Thymen Arensman (Ned) Team DSM 7
11Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe 6
12Simone Petilli (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 5
13Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma 4
14Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates 3
15Mattias Skjelmose (Den) Trek-Segafredo 2
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