The fourth stage of the 2021 Tour de Romandie seems to have produced an all time “only in bike racing” moment.
The stage was the race’s queen stage, finishing at the Thyon 2000 ski resort high in the Swiss Alps. The weather was poor from the get-go. Precipitation and clouds made for limited visibility as the riders made their way through the challenging course.
The race officials even intervened on the descent of the penultimate climb. They made the decision to neutralize the descent in order to prioritize the safety of the riders. However, the execution of the neutralization was not the best. The breakaway used the decision to increase their advantage. As a result, they had a gap of nearly six minutes at the base of the final climb.
Magnus Cort and Simone Petilli were the final survivors of the break, but the leading GC contenders took over at the front with 3.7 kilometers to go. With 2 kilometers remaining, it was Michael Woods and Geraint Thomas who had distanced the rest of the field.
Woods opened up the battle for the stage win in the final 200 meters, but it was Thomas who led into the last 100m.
Inside of the last 50 meters, disaster struck.
Thomas looked to get out of the saddle to sprint for the line. As he did so, his right hand appeared to slip off the handlebars, causing the Welshman to crash to the pavement.
The Ineos leader was able to get back to his feet, but he was forced to settle for third place on the day. Michael Woods took the stage win to secure his second victory of the season.
Australia’s Ben O’Connor also managed to sneak past for second as Thomas worked on remounting.
As a result of the chaos, Woods moved into the overall race lead. Thomas keeps his spot in second, 11 seconds back. O’Connor climbed all the way up to third overall to complete the provisional podium.
Other strong performers on the day include Fausto Masnada and Lucas Hamilton. Both riders moved themselves into the top ten on the general classification after finishing in the top five on the stage.
It is always nice to see Michael Woods win, but those were far from ideal circumstances.
Luckily, it seems that Thomas is not injured after his incident in the finale. He took to Twitter after the race to share his thoughts and explain exactly what happened.
Well what a shocker of a final 100m!! I had no feeling in my hands so when I tried to change gear, I just lost my grip on the bars🤦♂️😡I’m all good though, thanks for the messages!! #onedaytogo
— Geraint Thomas (@GeraintThomas86) May 1, 2021
The miserable weather definitely played a role in the crash, as Thomas himself explains there.
Still, it is not all doom and gloom for the Ineos man. The Tour de Romandie concludes tomorrow with a 16.19 kilometer long time trial. The discipline suits Thomas’ skill set over that of Woods.
It would certainly be possible for Thomas to make up the 11 second gap over the 16 kilometer course.
For Thomas, securing overall victory in the time trial would be the perfect way to bounce back from today’s chaos.
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