(Image Credit: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Woods takes win in queen stage in bad weather. The fourth stage of the Tour de Romandie was tough, exhausting, hit by bad weather and with the arrival at high altitude in Thyon 2000, after over 4000 meters of altitude gain. The Canadian Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation), in the company of the Welshman Geraint Thomas made the difference on the final ascent. The final sprint was incredible, as Thomas ended up on the ground 30 meters from the finish. From the images it seemed that the Ineos rider’s hand slipped while he was about to change gear for the sprint. And in an interview just after the stage to Cycling Pro, Thomas confirmed: “I had no feeling in my hands due to the cold and tried to shift gears, but lost control of my handlebars.”

The race – Soon after the flag dropped, attacks started. The first GPM was gone and the escape group went away: Matt Holmes and Kobe Goossens (Lotto-Soudal), Magnus Cort (EF-Nippo), Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel Start-Up Nation), Josef Cerny (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Simone Petilli (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), and Simon Pellaud (Switzerland).

From the 3rd climbs rumours on a possible neutralisation of the descend of the next climb started. And the news was then confirmed: the first 3km of the descent of the Suen would be neutralised due to the wet roads and poor visibility. Controversially, the supposedly time gaps would have been frozen for the neutralised descent, but the jury inadvertently handing a breakaway an extra two minute advantage. But it appears that the breakaway had taken 45 seconds back off the peloton as racing got underway once more.

With 25km remaining, Movistar were still pushing the peloton with little results. And this is why Owain Doull took over on the front for Ineos Grenadiers to give extra help. Soler still had Villella, Cataldo and Miguel Ángel López for company as only around 30 riders remained in the reduced peloton. Under 15km to go and the gap was now five and a half minutes to the front of the race.

Things changed on the rumps of Thyon 2000, the breakaway stated to loose numbers and minutes and Marc Soler went off the front with 6.6km to go, looking to protect his yellow jersey. The Spaniard and Lucas Hamilton didn’t get away but had shaken things up. Woods launched his attack just under 5 km from the end, catching both Simone Petilli and the Dane Magnus Cort Nielsen, the last two protagonists of the early long escape. The move was followed by O’Connor, of an excellent Masnada and by Geraint Thomas certainly among the most active of the leading group.

With little over 2km to go, Thomas was catching Woods. Soler was losing ground as the rest of the main contenders of the General Classification.

Under the ‘flamme rouge’ of the last kilometre, the duo had more than 50 seconds on Soler and they were able to concentrate on the final sprint. But the sprint was without story only because of the bizarre fall of the Welshman with less than 50 metres to go. Michael Woods is now also the race leader, followed by a tonic Geraint Thomas, the clear strongest rider of today stage.

Results – Tour de Romandie 2021, stage 4: Sion to Thyon 2000 (161.3km) for full results procyclingstats

1. Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation
2. Ben O’Connor (Aus) Ag2r Citroën, at 17 seconds
3. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 21s
4. Lucas Hamilton (Aus) BikeExchange, at 34s
5. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 37s
6. Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 42s
7. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Astana – Premier Tech, at same time
8. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-Victorious, at 52s
9. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar, at 53s
10. Thymen Arensman (Ned) Team DSM, at 1m57s

General classification after stage 4

1. Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation,
2. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 11 s
3. Ben O’Connor (Aus) Ag2r Citroën, at 21s
4. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar, at 33s
5. Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 36s
6. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 45s
7. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Astana – Premier Tech, at 48s
8. Lucas Hamilton (Aus) BikeExchange, at 49s
9. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-Victorious, at 1m04s
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1m58s

May 2, Stage 5 – Fribourg (ITT), 16.19km

The final ITT of this year Romandie is not ideal for time-trail specialists. The 16kms include short climbs such as the demanding pavé section of Chemin de Lorette (average gradient 12%).

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