Catalan from Movistar Team wins in Estavayer after perfectly-timed attack through final Les Granges climb, takes yellow jersey before Queen stage on Saturday + TT showdown on Sunday.
The Movistar Team savoured again the joy of success at the UCI WorldTour with the same rider who had conquered, back in 2020 at La Vuelta, the latest victory to date for the Telefónica-backed squad in cycling’s top tier: Marc Soler. The Catalan showed again his quality on day three of the 2021 Tour de Romandie, over a circuit in Estavayer (168km) with two Cat-3 climbs, the last of which witnessed the unstoppable final attack, under pouring rain, from the Vilanova native 10km before the end, which also gave him the yellow jersey as GC leader.
The Blue squad shone during the entire stage as Johan Jacobs made part of the early break -an escape which, split after the last series of climbs, was neutralized at Les Granges, with 12km to go-, as Soler waited until the last 500 meters uphill to launch a strong acceleration, which soon gave him about twenty seconds over Ion Izagirre (APT), later caught by the main field. The Spaniard kept that advantage until the very finish to notch up the Abarca Sports organisation’s fifth victory in 2021 -third with its men’s team- and his sixth in the UCI peloton (fifth since becoming a pro).
Soler now holds a 14″ advantage against INEOS Grenadiers’ Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte, heading into the Queen stage towards Thyon 2000, the race starting two hours earlier than initially scheduled to avoid extreme weather conditions and set to be, together with Sunday’s TT showdown in Fribourg, the biggest rival against the Movistar Team for the overall success.
REACTION / Marc Soler:
“I’m so happy about this victory. I want to remember, first of all, our team doctor for so many years, Jesús Hoyos, who passed away during the stage. I want to dedicate this victory to him; sadly, we lost him in just few weeks due to a terminal illness, and it’s really sad for our entire team. Such a hard stage, especially because of the rain and cold conditions. I was saving my move for the precise moment into that last climb – Woods was going strong, there were several attacks into the group, and I wanted to try but not too early. I waited for those final 500 meters to make a real gap and hopefully take the stage win. In the end, it was stage and jersey – it always makes you happy to get a leader’s – and we will fight hard to retain it. INEOS is so strong, it’s a short gap, even more so with their TT skills, but we will fight – we’ve got a strong team and will give our maximum, only the road will tell. Sometimes people doubt about what you can do, but we’ve always gone step-by-step, and things are turning out well. It gives us hope for the upcoming challenges, but before the Giro, it’s all about this weekend.”
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto