The peloton was a bit smaller than yesterday for the finish of stage 3 in Valbroye this Friday, but the outcome proved to be similar despite a few hills in the final. A bunch sprint therefore concluded the fourth day of racing in the Tour de Romandie, and victory went to Patrick Bevin. Quentin Pacher (18th), Sébastien Reichenbach, Rudy Molard and Thibaut Pinot finished up front, and the entire Groupama-FDJ cycling team is now looking forward to the mountain stage in Zinal onSaturday.
For the first time since the start of the Tour de Romandie, the fight for the breakaway did happen on Friday. It even extended over fifteen kilometres or so, and especially took place in the côte de Dampierre, the first AND penultimate climb of the day. However, it was the downhill that enabled the breakaway to establish itself with the following three men: Rémi Cavagna (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Krists Neilands (Israel-Premier Tech) and Nans Peters (AG2R-Citroën). On the day’s undulating terrain, totaling nearly 2,500 meters of elevation gain, the leading trio could enjoy a maximum lead of four minutes over the bunch. It was only with sixty kilometres to go that the gap started to decrease, with several teams helping in the chase. The gap was reduced to two minutes forty kilometres from the line, and was only thirty seconds at the bottom of the penultimate climb of the day: the côte de Dampierre. Logically, some riders got dropped,especially in the last kilometre of the ascent, and many more lost contact in the last hill towards Sédeilles. A few attacks occurred in the final slopes, but the peloton was all together to tackle the downhill.
“It was difficult to stay away from the peloton”,Philippe Mauduit
In Valbroye, it was therefore another small bunch sprint for the win. Patrick Bevin stormed it, and four Groupama-FDJ riders finished in the first peloton of about fifty riders, Quentin Pacher being the first of them on the line (18th). “It was a very fast stage once again”, said Philippe Mauduit. “It was the hilliest stage since the start of this Tour de Romandie, but the climbs were still quite short. Even if there were some gradients on the last two hills, we cannot say that it was enough to create gaps. Some riders attacked in the final, but we could see that the bunch was going too fast behind because it was not hard enough. It was therefore difficult to stay away from the peloton. The organizer had planned the three-second rule in case of splits for this stage. We nowunderstand why. It was a good stage for a sprint finish, even if there was a bit more climbing than yesterday”. It means the general classification did not really change before the big mountain stage featuring 4000 meters of elevation gaintomorrow towards Zinal. “It will be a day more suitable for the climbers”, smiled Philippe. “Quentin, Rudy and Seb are still there on GC, and it will be a hard day”.