Tour of Romandie Stage 4 Preview
David Gaudu gave Groupama-FDJ back-to-back wins with a formidable uphill sprint in Romont, the Frenchman looked good throughout the last set of climbs and was able to capitalize on his good positioning by sprinting in a way that no-one could match, beating Rui Costa and Primoz Roglic who also managed to grab the bonifications, equaling stage 1's podium.
Positive: Gaudu, Costa and Roglic all deserve a mention, winning more bonus seconds and for the second time contending the sprint between each other, they look like the most in-form trio and they've gotten a solid buffer over their rivals. Grossschartner, Guillaume Martin, Carl Frederik Hagen, Mathias Frank and Damien Howson have all looked very good so far, some outsiders but they aren't consolidating their spot in the top placings with their consistency.
Negative: Colbrelli and Bevin were caught up in Brambilla's crash. It was a huge lack of luck seeing they've passed over the climbs, specially for Colbrelli it's not his week. Thomas and Kruisjwijk lost some seconds today that were somewhat "free" for Roglic, Gaudu and the others who finished in front. Zakarin too, I believe he was hindered by the crash though. EF rode a very strong stage as a team but Woods failed to capitalize on it, it didn't come out as good for them as they wanted.
In the penultimate day of the race comes the queen stage, the only high mountain stage and it will be a hard one. Several climbs including the hard Jaunpass will build the fatigue that will be quite noticeable by the end when the riders reach the final climb.
The ascent to Torgnon is 10.3Km at 6.5% in it's categorized part, it's quite a hard climb with a small flat section near the end, the KOM banner will come with 3Km to go but it doesn't stop climbing until the riders enter the final kilometer. It's the stage where the biggest gaps will be made. But as it has been the case in the last few years, there's a chance this stage will decide who will fight for the overall, but then the final time-trial will set the winner. It will be an effort for a bit over 30 minutes, there's a tiny descent in the latter part of the climbing but it won't break the rhythm.
Cold, snow is said to be present on the final climb, with temperatures in Aigle at 5 degrees in the bottom of the final climb. It will snow but it isn't likely that it will happen during the race, but rain will be present and will make it a very draining day with so much climbing and cold in the mix. The wind shouldn't be a factor.
So the pure climbers. Primoz Roglic and Geraint Thomas have both looked good since the start of the race, the climb is constant and not too steep so both will like what's coming. Steven Kruisjwijk for Jumbo will not only bring another card for the team as it may be the decisive factor in protecting Roglic's lead, because at this point he needs to only race defensively and follow the wheels, as sunday's stage will only favour him more.
Bora's duo Emanuel Buchmann and Felix Grossschartner have been active so far, they will fancy their chances tomorrow although they haven't quite reached the level of the others, form and the sensations will matter the most as the cold/rain can play a big part.
Second in the overall David Gaudu has been looking very strong, he can excel in both the short and long climbs so he is definetely one to look out for tomorrow. Seeing today's win one can speculate he can do it again tomorrow. Michael Woods would favour more the climbs in the previous days but he can climb well, EF has shown great depth so they are a threat specially as they can play out with some riders in the break.
There's Rui Costa, he has had lots of near-misses, he looks in great form but his strenght doesn't come in the long mountaints. But like Woods he can perfectly do it, he loves the rain and racing in Switzerland so the sky is still the limit for the Portuguese.
Movistar have Betancur, Anacona and Sepulveda still in play for the overall, Katusha have Spilak and Zakarin who have been more active than Katusha's usual this season, Guillaume Martin of Wanty and Damien Howson of Mitchelton are all riders to watch. And with such a stage it wouldn't come as a surprise to see some of the names mentioned in the day's break.
⭐ Kruisjwijk, Zakarin, G.Martin, Grossschartner, Betancur, Carthy
Back-to-back-to-back? It's happened before, seeing how Gaudu was riding in UAE we know he can climb as well as Roglic in some points, and tomorrow definetely feels like one of those days. Roglic and Thomas are riders that like pace-climbing so Gaudu can benefit from their pace-making and use his explosiveness to attack in the end of the climb, or sprint to the win like today.
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