Tour de Romandie (st. 3)
Intxausti 5th at Queen stage, back on top form and 11″ away from GC podium before TT; Spanish champ (8th) leaders Young riders’ competition, stays into overall top-ten alongside Izagirre (12th)
A hellish stage, not only because of the 3,500 meters of vertical gain but also due to cold and rain for all riders from the very beginning, turned the overall classification of the 2014 Tour de Romandie upside down. Simon Spilak (KAT) is the new leaders after being the only rider to keep the pace of Chris Froome (SKY) in the last categorized climb -Villars-sur-Ollon (Cat-1)- of a day with four main ascents and 181km between Le Bouveret and Aigle, a finale where the Movistar Team riders always kept the fore.
Four riders from the telephone squad -Jesús Herrada, Ion Izagirre, Beñat Intxausti and a dedicated Jonathan Castroviejo- reached the foot of the climb into a small field of about thirty riders from which Lobato and Lastras dropped out of fatigue to later abandon the race. Following the initial attack by Nibali (AST) and the strong counter by Froome, who went away solo to later be reached down by Spilak, Intxausti got back from a difficult start of the climb to jump away halfway through in search for the leading two.
The effort by the Basque climber -his first big performance in a 2014 season where he has slowly built up in search for the summer- took him to 25 seconds’ distance from the front, eventually being caught by a stronger pace from Nibali, Fuglsang (AST), Costa (LAM) and Frank (IAM). Behind, a superb Herrada crested together with Wyss (IAM), Talansky (GRS), Pinot (FDJ) and Ion Izagirre, who also went on a progressive pace to keep control of his time losses.
At the finish, Intxausti took fifth place while Herrada led his group home for eighth, with Ion Izagirre in 12th. The result puts the Movistar boys into the lead in the teams’ classification while also keeps all three within the overall top-ten: Beñat (6th) is now 11″ away from the podium; Herrada (8th) leaders the Young riders’ contest with a 17-second advantage over Pinot, staying half a minute behind the Amorebieta man; and Izagirre (9th) is also just behind the Spanish champion. Before Sunday’s decisive TT in Neuchâtel (19km), a circuit (five laps) awaits in Friburgo, 173km with a short Cat-3 climb in each passage.