Quite peaceful for a while, the first stage of the Tour de Romandie proved to be really stressful towards the final inRomont on Wednesday. This led to a mass crash with fourteen kilometres to go, which split the bunch in two parts. ThibautPinot was caught behind and did not manage to return to the front. In the hilltop finish, Quentin Pacher (16th), Sébastien Reichenbach (18th) and Rudy Molard (19th) arrived in the main group, four seconds behind winner Dylan Teuns. In the morning, Michael Storer had to withdraw due to sickness. 

In the aftermath of the short prologue in Lausanne, the peloton gathered in La Grande Béroche for the start of thefirst road stage. 178 kilometres were to be covered towards Romont through a hilly course. Unfortunately for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team, the bunch got underway withoutMichael Storer on Wednesday morning, as the Australian rider suffered from flu-like symptoms. “He was sick since yesterday, explained Yvon Madiot, sports director together with Philippe Mauduit on the race. We waited to see how he felt this morning, but we were forced to make the decision to withdraw him pretty quickly. Without one of its main cardsfor the general classification, the team then began a stage where five men broke away early. Julius Johansen (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), Tim Naberman (Team DSM), Valère Thiébaud, Antoine Debons (Switzerland) and Thomas Champion (Cofidis) got a gap from the first kilometres and enjoyed a four-minute lead at best while Ethan Hayter’s teammates took control in the bunch. The riders passed the finish line for the first time with about a hundred kilometres to go, and the pace logically intensified in the second part of the race. On the up and down terrain, the last breakaway riderswere caught with a bit less than thirty kilometres remaining. The fight for positions then further increased.

The race was really nervous”, Yvon Madiot

The fast tempo eliminated a handful of riders, but the major race event occurred on a downhill. Fourteen kilometres from the finish, a crash happened in the middle of the pack and notably involved the race leader. Rudy Molard, Quentin Pacher and Sébastien Reichenbach got through the pile-up, but Thibaut Pinot did not and was delayed. “Nothing happened during the stage, until this crash”, said Yvon. “Part of the team was not in a good position at that time. From there, it was over.” The first peloton of around fifty men kept going at a fast speed, which made it impossible for the delayed riders to come back. The victory was then decided in the uphill finish of Romont, and Dylan Teuns caught Rohan Dennis at the last moment to take the win. The threeGroupama-FDJ riders still at the front entered the day’s top-20, four seconds behind the Belgian. Thibaut Pinot came to the line 1’28 later. “We do have guys in front, but overall, it is not a good day,” said Yvon Madiot. The guys said that the race was really nervousthat there was a big fight, and it ended up with a crash. It’s a shame because Thibaut wanted to do well here, and he did not lose time because of his legsHe will now focus on the stages. As far as Seb is concerned, he still has a good shot for the overall”. Like Rudy Molard and Quentin Pacher, the Swiss climber is about thirty seconds away from new leader Rohan Dennis on Wednesday evening.

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