Porte Fifth On Thrilling Tour de Romandie Queen Stage28. April 2018, Sion (SUI) — Road Team
With more than 3,500m of climbing, including two category two and three category one climbs, the Tour de Romandie queen stage was a tough as they come and saw Richie Porte in the thick of a General Classification battle in the closing kilometers of the day.
After covering just over 17km, of the 149.2km course, the peloton reached the summit of the first of five categorized climbs, the 8.9km ascent to Ovronnaz which had a gradient that reached 15% in places.
By this point, several riders had tried to go clear but, with less than two minutes separating the top ten on the General Classification at the start of the day, the race was kept under control.
After descending back into Sion, and onto a rare flat section of the course, a five-rider breakaway crossed the finish line with a narrow lead of 1’45” over the main bunch before hitting the foot of the day’s second climb.
Heading over the top of the 5.7km ascent to Vercorin, with the final three climbs coming in quick succession shortly after, the reduced peloton was holding the leaders at around the 2’30” mark and it was clear that a battle of the General Classification contenders was brewing.
The race started to heat up on the penultimate climb of the day with riders attacking off the front of the peloton on the way up to Nax and forcing more riders to drop back as the bunch was strung out along the road.
With the gap to the remaining breakaway riders beginning to tumble, three riders were attempting to bridge across, and they made the catch just after heading onto the final climb with 40.5km of racing still to come.
The ascent to Les Collons was the longest of the race and the top of the 13.1km category one climb, which had an average gradient of 6.6%, came with just 27.4km to go.
Porte and Dennis were still well-positioned in first the few places of the peloton, which at this stage was made up of no more than 40 riders, before Egan Bernal (Team Sky) and race leader, Primož Roglič (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) attacked.
The duo quickly reached the front of the race while behind, Porte worked hard as part of the first chasing group to close the gap with Dennis also regaining contact with the main group of General Classification contenders.
Further attacks saw a group of five including Porte, Roglič, Bernal, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) and Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) drawn out at the front of the race on the fast descent towards the finish line.
A late attack saw Fuglsang trying his luck with 15km to go and he quickly extended a 40-second advantage which eventually proved enough to see him take the stage win ahead of Roglič and Bernal.
Meanwhile, Porte sprinted to fifth on the line as part of the first chasing group to remain third overall on the General Classification, 35 seconds behind Roglič heading into tomorrow’s final stage.
Dennis, who also put in a strong ride during the stage, was the first rider across the line from the next group on the road and he still sits seventh overall, 2’49” back.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
"It was hard all day today. Even on the first climb, the race exploded but I felt really good. I need to give credit to my teammates and today, Joey Rosskopf and Danilo Wyss did a super impressive job for me. They were really great and with Danilo's local knowledge, he always kept me in a good position."
"I'm not in top shape at the moment. I had an interrupted run into this race so I am quite happy with how things are going so far. I was happy that I was able to claw back to Bernal and Roglič, who are a level above me at the moment, by the top of the climb. It was also nice to finish in such a select group."
"I think tomorrow the goal will be to protect our podium position and also Rohan Dennis, who has had a good race too. He is up there as well on the GC which is great for his confidence going into the Giro d'Italia. The guys have been super in protecting me this week so hopefully, we will finish the job off and be on the podium at the end of the day."
Sports Director, Fabio Baldato:
"It was really hard today from the first climb. It was a warm day, around 27 to 28 degrees and all the climbing made it even tougher. But, we managed this well as a team and overall it was a good day. We saw that Bernal and Roglič were on another level today but Richie definitely deserves to be up there on the General Classification. He did a good ride today and while Fuglsang had an advantage at the end as was not overly dangerous on the General Classification, Richie did a few pulls at the end to keep his podium position and finish safely."
"As we saw yesterday, the Richie we know is coming back and he was able to follow the attacks of Bernal and Roglič. He is where he needs to be ahead of July I think and we are positive that we are on the right track. Rohan also performed well today. It was a big mountain stage and he showed that he is good shape."
"Normally, we will see a controlled race tomorrow in preparation for a final sprint so I think for us it will be about keeping safe and protecting Richie and Rohan in the General Classification."
Tour de Romandie
Stage 4: Sion > Sion, 149.2km
Top 3: 1. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) 2. Primož Roglič (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) 3. Egan Bernal (Team Sky)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 5. Richie Porte 6. Rohan Dennis 44. Joey Rosskopf