Tour de Romandie: Chris Froome moves up to second as Simon Spilak wins stage three
Last Updated: 02/05/14 9:12pm
Chris Froome took a huge stride towards retaining his Tour de Romandie title by finishing second behind Slovenia’s Simon Spilak on stage three in Aigle.
The duo rode away from their general classification rivals on the final climb of the day and then safely negotiated a wet descent down the opposite side, eventually crossing the line 57 seconds ahead of the next group on the road.
Katusha rider Spilak outsprinted Froome by half a wheel’s length to take the stage win and ten bonus seconds, which sees him move into the overall race lead.
Froome is one second further back in second place, but is now firm favourite to win the race for the second year in succession given that he should fare far better than Spilak in Sunday’s race-ending time trial.
World champion Rui Costa is third overall, 1min 2sec back, and Vincenzo Nibali is fourth, 1min 6sec adrift, after both finished as part of the leading chase group.
Nibali burns out
The hilly 180.2km third stage promised to be a crucial day and that proved to be the case. The first three of the route’s four category-one climbs saw race leader Michael Albasini dropped and the front group thinned down to little more than 25 riders leading on to the concluding ascent to Villars-sur-Dilan.
Nibali (Astana) was the first man to make a move with an attack on the lower slopes, 26km out, but it proved to be a tactical oversight, as Froome made light work of following the Italian and then countering with a far more meaningful attack 25km from home.
Nibali fell away immediately, but Spilak set off in pursuit of Froome and bridged across to the Briton with 24km to go.
The duo worked together well and opened up a gap of 55 seconds over the summit of the climb, and although downhill expert Nibali was expected to reduce his arrears on a rain-soaked descent, Froome and Spilak consolidated their advantage all the way to the finish.
Saturday's fourth stage, which starts and finishes in Fribourg, is expected to end in a sprint.
Stage three result
1 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha, 5:09:23
2 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, same time
3 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida, +57secs
4 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, st
5 Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar, st
6 Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling, st
7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, st
8 Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar, +1:41
9 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, st
10 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp, st
1 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha, 11:39:25
2 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, +1
3 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida, +1:02
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, +1:06
5 Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling, +1:10
6 Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar, +1:13
7 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, +1:14
8 Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar, +1:40
9 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar, +1:48
10 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp, 1:50