In what was another tough finish on the Tour de Suisse, the Groupama-FDJ leaders struggled a bit on stage 4 this Wednesday. Romain Grégoire and Michael Storer were distanced by the race’s favorites about fifteen kilometres from the finish and eventually ended the day outside the top-20. Twenty-third on the line, three minutes behind the winner and new leader Felix Gall, the Australian climber is now 18th overall. Some more climbing will be on the program on Thursday.

After stage 3 of the Tour de Suisse created the first big gaps on Tuesday, many riders thought there could be a chance for the breakaway on stage 4, with the difficult finish to Leukerbad. This is why the battle to enter it lasted almost an hour on Wednesday from Monthey. More than forty kilometres were covered before Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos Grenadiers), Kevin Vermaerke (DSM), Stan Dewulf (AG2R-Citroën), Kristian Sbaragli (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Lilian Calmejane (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Luis Mas (Movistar), Daryl Impey (Israel-Premier Tech), Pascal Eenkhoorn (Lotto Dstny), Luca Mozzato (Arkéa-Samsic) and Nikias Arndt (Bahrain-Victorious) managed to go clear. The leading men managed to get a three-minute gap, but the first climb of the day, to Crans-Montana, was tackled just thirty kilometres further on. Gino Mäder (Bahrain-Victorious) took the opportunity to attack from the peloton and join the race leaders, but the pack also paced up in the back. At the top, the gap was only two minutes. It was quite similar at the end of the descent and after the valley, when starting the long climb towards Dorben, which included two distinct parts.

“It’s a pity for Michael”, Sébastien Joly

The peloton accelerated from the first, steepest kilometres, and Felix Gall even opened up the fight among the favorites with more than twenty kilometres to go. Romain Grégoire and Michael Storer were able to stay in the small bunch for a few minutes, but the Frenchman first lost ground when the tempo really picked up. The Australian held on for a long time in a second chasing group but was forced to let it go just one kilometre from the top of the first part of the climb, fifteen kilometres from the finish. In the second portion of the ascent, less steep, then in the last uphill kick to the line, Michael Storer tried to limit his losses and eventually crossed the line 3’02 after the winner Felix Gall, in 23rd position. Romain Grégoire reached the finish a minute or so later, in 25th place. “The final was very fast, like the rest of the race”, commented Sébastien Joly. “It’s a pity for Michael. He was not very well positioned at the bottom of the last climb, and it cost him a big effort. Therefore, instead of coming with the yellow jersey group, he finished a little behind”. On Thursday, the Australian is 18th overall, 3’52 behind Austrian Felix Gall. Thursday, on a 211-kilometre-long stage, the peloton will tackle three major climbs, but only one will be located in the final: the Albulapass (17 km at 7%).

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