Despite a difficult second part of the race, the fifth and final stage of the Tour de Romandie did end with a bunch sprint in Geneva on Sunday. Lewis Askey gave it a go at the finish and took seventh place on the line. Thibaut Pinot safely completed the day and was therefore able to confirm his fifth place in the general classification. A very promising performance ahead of the Giro d’Italia in a few days’ time.
Five days after the prologue, the Tour de Romandie’s riders returned to Lake Geneva on Sunday. A road stage was this time on the agenda, with 170 kilometres but also two climbs halfway through which brought some uncertainty to the day’s outcome. Until the bottom of the first of them, located after 90 kilometres, the scenario was however quite straightforward. Five men, namely Tom Gloag (Jumbo-Visma), Robert Stannard (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Paul Lapeira (AG2R Citroën), Alexander Kamp (Tudor) and Antoine Aebi (Switzerland) formed a breakaway which enjoyed a four-minute gap at best. The gap considerably reduced in the sequence of climbs, where the sprinters also got in trouble. “The start of the race was rather quiet, but the second part was quite eventful”, said Jussi Veikkanen. “We were never under pressure though, Thibaut always had teammates around him. He was therefore protected in good conditions into the finish.” In the second climb, located fifty kilometres from Geneva, the breakaway was caught by a small bunch, which got slightly bigger a few moments later with some of the sprinters rejoining. Some riders also tried to light the final up, but it did not prove successful. Everything was back together with two kilometres to go, and the final sprint was set to happen.
“I’m still learning”, Lewis Askey
“Lewis wanted to get involved in the sprint, knowing that the flatter stages were also an objective for him on this Tour de Romandie”, said Jussi. “We talked about it on the radio all together and we gave him the green light”. The 21-year-old Briton managed to make his way to the front of the bunch and even entered the last kilometre in the first ten positions. He got even closer with five hundred metres to go, but Fernando Gaviria then anticipated the sprint and took a few bike lengths that no one was able to close. Lewis Askey crossed the line in seventh position. “In the end, I’m a bit disappointed because I suffered a lot all day to be there in the sprint, and I made a mistake,” he explained. “I was really in a good position, I had the space to make my effort, but we thought that we’d tackle the last corner without braking. Actually, with the speed and the barriers, it was tighter than expected. We had to brake, and after that, we all kept our positions until the line. I was seventh in the corner, and I finished seventh. I think I missed the opportunity to net a first top-3 at this level, but I’m still learning. I am not disappointed with the result, more with the way and the decision that I made”. “He had a little hesitation, but he scored a top-10 and that’s good for him,” added Jussi. “It gives confidence after his great Classics campaign”.
“We spent a good week together, it was really fun”, Jussi Veikkanen
Thibaut Pinot meanwhile finished in the same time as his teammate, and therefore secured his fifth position overall in the Tour de Romandie, which is his best GC result in a WorldTour stage race since the 2020 Critérium du Dauphiné. “The race’s assessment is very good”, said Thibaut. “We came for that. We were hoping for a top-10 or even a top-5 with Lenny or myself. We left with a top-5. It’s been a good week for the team. I had good feelings over the last weekend, and that’s what matters to me. I wanted answers in terms of feelings and results. It had been a long time since I had fought for victory on a mountain stage in the WorldTour, and it was important to do so before the Giro. I’m a bit disappointed with the time trial, because the podium could have been possible with a better performance, but I will content myself with that”. “It’s a very good track record”, argued Jussi. “We are of course happy with our performances, and with our youngsters who supported Thibaut in the best way all week. Fifth place overall gives us some ideas for the future… On top of that, we spent a good week together here, it was really fun”. If the way back home was not the longest of the year for Thibaut Pinot on Sunday, the French climber will soon have to pack his bags again. “I am very motivated for the Giro”, he concluded. “I’m already leaving in two days, it’s going to be fast. I reassured myself on many things, and I will go there with a lot of motivation”.