Geraint Thomas seals first victory since 2018 Tour de France at Tour de Romandie

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John MacLeary
·10 min read
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Geraint Thomas –  Geraint Thomas seals first victory since 2018 Tour de France at Tour de Romandie - AFP
Geraint Thomas – Geraint Thomas seals first victory since 2018 Tour de France at Tour de Romandie - AFP

Sunday May 2 — Fribourg 16.19km (individual time trial)

Geraint Thomas sealed his first overall victory since winning the Tour de France in 2018 following the final-day time trial at the Tour de Romandie.

Thomas led home a one-two on general classification for Ineos Grenadiers ahead of team-mate Richie Porte, while Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck-Quick Step) completed the podium in third place.

It was another Deceuninck-Quick Step rider, however, who won the final stage on Sunday with French time trial champion Rémi Cavagna completing the course in 21 minutes 54 seconds, 6sec faster than the young Swiss Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo), while Thomas was third another 11sec down, propelling him to top of the overall standings.

Thomas started the day 11sec down on Michael Woods (Israel Start-up Nation) in the general classification following the previous day's mishap that saw the Ineos Grenadiers rider crash just 50 metres from line on an uphill finish. Thomas, though, stayed upright throughout the 16.19km course around Fribourg, finishing 54sec faster than Woods to seal overall victory and become only the third Briton to win the race, following in the pedal strokes of Sir Bradley Wiggins (2012) and Chris Froome (2013, 2014).

"I'm very happy," Thomas said. "Especially after the little mishap yesterday which wasn't ideal and made it more of a challenge today.

"I said at the start of the year my goal was the Tour and every race is building up to that," Thomas added. "I didn't really put any pressure on myself to perform early but I seem to have come in to good shape pretty soon and had a lot of good races. It's not that I haven't performed since winning the Tour [de France], I was second [there in 2019], second in [last year's] Tirreno-Adriatico and third in [last month's Volta a] Catalunya so I've been up there but it's nice to get the win and break that duck."

Froome, meanwhile, finished the stage 3min 23sec slower than Cavagna in 109th place – of 120 starters – a result that meant the four-time Tour de France winner completed the race over an hour down on former team-mate Thomas in 96th on general classification.

Stage four: Woods takes overall lead after Thomas mishap

Saturday May 1 — Sion to Thyon, 161.3km

Geraint Thomas and Michael Woods –  - KEYSTONE
Geraint Thomas and Michael Woods – - KEYSTONE

A crash inside the last 50 metres cost Geraint Thomas the leader's jersey on a dramatic stage four in Switzerland.

Thomas was battling Michael Woods for victory as sleet fell at the summit finish in Thyon, but the Ineos Grenadiers rider slipped as he climbed out of the saddle for a final dig for the line.

It meant the Canadian Woods took both the stage win and with it the leaders' yellow jersey for Israel Start-up Nation, with overnight leader Marc Soler of Movistar having been distanced on the final climb.

Thomas shook his head as he rolled over the line in third behind Ben O'Connor, 21 seconds after Woods, having struggled to remount his bike.

However, assuming there are no lasting injuries, the Welshman will begin Sunday's 16km hilly time trial around Fribourg as the favourite for the overall win given his quality against the clock.

Thomas sits 11 seconds behind Woods, with O'Connor now third overall, 21 seconds off yellow. Soler slipped to fourth, 33 seconds down.

Thomas' crash was a final bit of drama on a 161km stage from Sion packed with incidents, including a controversial decision to neutralise the final descent out of Suen, inadvertently handing a breakaway an extra two minutes worth of advantage.
PA

Stage three: Soler escapes off front to power into lead

Friday April 30 — Estavayer to Estavayer, 168.7km

Chris Froome admits he does not 'expect miracles' as he struggles on at Tour de Romandie - EPA
Chris Froome admits he does not 'expect miracles' as he struggles on at Tour de Romandie - EPA

Chris Froome endured another chastening day at the Tour de Romandie on Friday when the Israel Start-up Nation rider crossed the line of stage three almost 20 minutes down on new race leader Marc Soler.

Contested in rotten conditions that saw lone leader Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) crash heavily after losing his front wheel in the rain, Soler (Movistar) escaped off the front of a nervous looking peloton before soloing away to a stage win, a result that propelled him to top in general classification. Geraint Thomas lost a few seconds, but kept hold of second spot after Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Rohan Dennis dropped down the standings following his own crash while Richie Porte moved up to third.

Four-time Tour de France champion Froome, however, plummeted down to 95th in the standings having lost 19min 1sec to Soler. In an interview with Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung published on Friday morning, Froome said that he was not expecting any miracles as the rehabilitation following his horror crash almost two years ago continued.

"I still feel the hunger to race and do everything I can to get back to my best,” Froome said. “It's a long process. It's taking longer than I expected. But I don't want to miss the chance. In a few years I want to look back and be able to tell myself that I've tried everything.”

“I’m carrying two to three extra kilos of weight around with me,” he added. “I know about my injuries and don’t expect miracles. I won't wake up one day and suddenly win again, because I started at the bottom and I’m working my way up again.”

The Tour de Romandie is due to continue on Saturday with a mountainous stage, though may be shortened depending on the weather conditions. The race concludes in Fribourg on Sunday with a time trial.

Stage two: Colbrelli victorious as Dennis holds on to lead

Thursday April 29 — La Neuveville to Saint-Imier, 165.7km

Sonny Colbrelli - Sonny Colbrelli takes Tour de Romandie stage win as Rohan Dennis retains his lead - EPA
Sonny Colbrelli - Sonny Colbrelli takes Tour de Romandie stage win as Rohan Dennis retains his lead - EPA

Sonny Colbrelli emerged victorious on Wednesday when he won a reduced bunch sprint finish in stage two at the Tour de Romandie.

Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) beat Patrick Bevin (Israel Start-up Nation) to the line, while Swiss rider Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates) took third in the hilly stage that featured six categorised climbs.

Colbrelli's second win of the year – and his first at WorldTour level since 2018 which, coincidentally, was also in Switzerland – came after a breakaway had been reined in while the Italian benefited from the work of Ineos Grenadiers who instantly nullified any late attacks.

On the fast approach to Saint-Imier at the end of the 165.7-kilometre run from La Neuveville, Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visa) and Michael Woods (Israel Start-up Nation) both tested the resolve of Ineos Grenadiers who responded in kind. Race leader Rohan Dennis selflessly shifted to the front where he set a fierce pace in order to negate any further digs.

"Obviously we'd have preferred for Rohan not to have to do anything today but he stepped up when he had to, that's for sure," Geraint Thomas, who is hoping to challenge for the general classification once the race enter s the high mountains during Saturday's stage, later said.

"He got in the groove and didn't really want to stop. It was a really good day. A lot could have gone wrong out there and the boys did a great job in controlling it all. We've been lucky with the weather too – the talk before the race was there would be rain every day here, but so far so good."

Despite losing 43sec to Dennis, who finished in the main group on the same time as Colbrelli, Chris Froome (Israel Start-up Nation) moved up 42 places to 63rd spot, and starts Friday's stage 5min 9sec off the pace.

Stage one: Sagan sprints to victory as Dennis retains lead

Wednesday April 28 — Aigle to Martigny, 168.1km

Peter Sagan – Peter Sagan sprints to stage win as Rohan Dennis retains Tour de Romandie lead ahead of Ineos Grenadiers team-mates - GETTY IMAGES
Peter Sagan – Peter Sagan sprints to stage win as Rohan Dennis retains Tour de Romandie lead ahead of Ineos Grenadiers team-mates - GETTY IMAGES

Peter Sagan claimed his first Tour de Romandie stage since his last appearance at the race in 2010 when the Bora-Hansgrohe rider won a sprint finish ahead of Sonny Colbrelli and Patrick Bevin on Wednesday.

It was the second win of the season for Sagan , the three-time world champion, and will provide the Slovakian a well-timed confidence boost as he prepares for his second outing at the Giro d'Italia which gets under way in 11 days' time with a short individual time trial in Turin on May 8.

In what was a scrappy finale to a lumpy and circuitous stage, Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) opened up his sprint first before Sagan jumped onto his wheel, taking with him Bevin (Israel-Start up Nation). However, once Sagan launched his decisive sprint neither were able to respond.

There was no change at the top of the general classification and so Rohan Dennis will start Thursday's hilly second stage wearing the leader's yellow jersey, while Ineos Grenadiers team-mates Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte are 9sec behind in second and third respectively.

Chris Froome (Israel-Start up Nation), meanwhile, finished in the second group 3min 34sec behind the main protagonists and so despite moving up the general classification by 25 places, trails Dennis by 4min 26sec after just two days racing – one of which was a short prologue time trial.

Prologue: Ineos dominate as Froome's struggles continue

Tuesday April 27 — Oron, 4.05km (individual time trial)

Rohan Dennis — Rohan Dennis leads home Ineos Grenadiers one-two-three on the opening of Tour de Romandie - GETTY IMAGES
Rohan Dennis — Rohan Dennis leads home Ineos Grenadiers one-two-three on the opening of Tour de Romandie - GETTY IMAGES

Rohan Dennis clocked on for his first race in over a month in impressive style when the Australian led home an Ineos Grenadiers one-two-three on the opening day of racing at the Tour de Romandie on Tuesday.

Dennis powered his way around the short but lumpy 4.05 kilometre prologue course in just five minutes 26 seconds to take his second win of the season in the six-day race in Switzerland ahead of team-mates Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte who were second and third respectively.

Thomas completed the time trial around Oron nine seconds adrift of Dennis, a former world time trial champion, while another Australian Porte completed his ride on the same time as the Welshman in third.

"I'm happy with that, it's a decent start," said Thomas, who is using the race as part of his preparation towards this summer's Tour de France.

"I'm looking forward to the rest of the race but I think the weather is going to turn so I need to get my head ready for some wet and cold stages.

"I want to get the best result possible. With myself and Richie right up there, I'll be happy to help him but also looking to take my own chances and we've got two good cards to play."

It was less good news for Chris Froome, the former Ineos Grenadiers rider, who finished 10th from last in 130th spot, 52sec down on Dennis.

Chris Froome – Chris Froome's struggles continue at Tour de Romandie as Rohan Dennis leads home Ineos Grenadiers one-two-three - EPA
Chris Froome – Chris Froome's struggles continue at Tour de Romandie as Rohan Dennis leads home Ineos Grenadiers one-two-three - EPA

The disappointing opening day in Romandie, where Froome is riding in support of team-mate Michael Woods, came after Matt Brammeier, Great Britain men's road team coach, said the four-time Tour de France winner was 'a long way off' from earning a spot at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Talking to cyclingnews.com, Brammeier said: "I recommend the team, I don’t select it but I can say that I think Chris is a long way off. He has said himself that he’s not there yet and he needs more time to get up to speed and to get to a level where he’s fighting for that spot.

"We’ve got four spots and it’s not an easy team to fight your way into. Unfortunately, it’s not looking great for Chris on my behalf anyway."