Spilak Wins Queen Stage of Tour de Romandie; Froome Takes Race Lead
Simon Spilak (Katusha) has taken the queen stage of the Tour de Romandie. The Slovenian took a two-up sprint to win the mountainous, 180.5-km ride from Le Bouveret to Aigle in 5:09:23. Chris Froome (Team Sky Pro Cycling) finished second, and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) took third at 0:57. Spilak is the new overall leader of the Tour de Romandie.
The riders endured rain as well as four Category 1 climbs. Danilo Wyss (BMC Racing Team), Jack Bobridge (Belkin - Linksys), Tom Veelers (Giant-Shimano), Davide Malacarne and Cyril Gautier (both from Europcar), Boris Vallee (Lotto-Belisol), and Andrey Grivko (Astana) attacked and forged a 5:57 lead before they reached the day’s first climb, the Category 1 Col des Planches. Veelers and Vallee were dropped on the ascent, and attrition did further damage until only Gautier and Malacarne remained in the lead. The peloton reeled in the pair with 38 km left.
On the day’s penultimate climb, yellow jersey Michael Albasini (Team GreenEdge) fell off of the pace, and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) joined him. By the end of the stage, the Pole would lose 30 minutes and any chance for a high overall finish.
On the day’s final climb, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) began the fireworks with an attack. When the Italian was caught, Froome countered. Nibali took the Briton’s wheel but eventually fell off of the pace. Spilak joined Froome. Behind, Rigoberto Uran, Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s man for the Giro d’Italia, was dropped, and Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp-POC) lost time when he dropped his chain. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) crashed, while Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) was dropped and would finish six minutes behind the leaders.
On the descent, a chase group formed that consisted of Nibali, Costa, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Benat Inxausti (Movistar), and Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling). With 15 km left, Froome and Spilak led the chasers by 0:55. Five km later, the lead had increased to one minute. The pursuit could not make up time on the descent because of the wet roads.
Froome led out the uphill sprint. With 200 m left, the Katusha man jumped the Sky man on the left. He won by about the width of a tire. The bonus seconds that Spilak earned for the win gave him the race lead.
The conditions and Katusha’s teamwork favored Spilak. “It was a very difficult stage today with the rain,” he said, “but I like it when it rains, and the cold doesn’t bother me either. In the beginning of the stage I did not feel very well, because it was a high pace and the mountains were really hard. But in the second part of the stage I felt much better. Besides, our team was very strong today. We had good team communication and work during the whole stage and especially in the final climb, at the most decisive moment."
"I saw the moment when Chris Froome attacked and I knew I had to follow him because it was the right moment. I did not force and took my own pace to reach Nibali and then Froome. I had a good collaboration with Chris on the climb and after on the dangerous descent. I was concentrating on the race and thought only about the current situation. Of course, I thought about the victory, but Chris Froome is a strong rival and I am happy I took the stage victory in the sprint.”
Katusha directeur sportif Dmitri Konyshev emphasized the role that teamwork played in the stage win. “The team was perfect today,” Konyshev declared. “In the final climb we had four riders in the leading group. Sergei Chernetski and Egor Silin worked very well in front to prepare the pace for Simon’s attack. After it, when Simon went together with Froome, Yuri Trofimov was strong to stay in the chasing group and to catch the attacks of the rivals. So, it was an impressive teamwork and a perfect race from Simon, who was really strong today.”
In the Tour de Romandie general classification, Spilak leads Froome by 0:01 and Costa by 1:02. Stage 4 will not change this state of affairs. The rolling, 174-km run in and around Fribourg is a circuit race with a Category 3 climb in three of the circuits. Who will win it? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!