Tour de Romandie: Chris Froome extends lead with virtuoso display on stage four
By Matt Westby. Last Updated: 28/04/13 4:12pm
Chris Froome extended his overall lead with a brilliant climbing display alongside Simon Spilak
Chris Froome blew his general classification rivals away on the final climb of stage four to extend his overall lead of the Tour de Romandie.
The Team Sky leader produced a virtuoso display to first catch a dangerous breakaway on the concluding ascent to Les Diablerets and then surge clear himself alongside Slovenia's Simon Spilak.
Spilak (Katusha) went on to take the stage victory, with Froome crossing the line second, 1min 3sec ahead of a chasing group containing Robert Kiserlovski (RadioShack-Leopard) and Movistar duo Alejandro Valverde and Rui Costa.
The Briton now leads Spilak overall by 47 seconds, with Costa, who sprinted to third on the stage, moving up to third, 1min 21sec back.
Froome said afterwards: "Everyone did a super job and, for me, it was just to follow Spilak over the last climb. Once we were over the top, I think both of us understood very quickly that my objective was the general classification and his objective was to go for the stage win, so we worked well together and took a good advantage coming into the final [kilometre].
"I don't think 'impressive' is enough to describe how they [his team-mates] have been all week. They have really done a super job keeping me in front and today was another demonstration of that."
The day was played out in terrible weather conditions that had earlier forced race organisers to shorten the queen stage by 4km and skip the planned second climb of the Col de la Croix. Significantly, the finale was changed from a downhill to a summit finish.
Marcus Burghardt (BMC), Arthur Vichot (FDJ), Tom Dumoulin (Argos-Shimano) and Matthias Brandle (IAM Cycling) broke away from the peloton in the early stages and had opened up a gap of 4min 30sec by the 50km mark.
However, the group split apart on the second climb of the day, the category-one Col de la Croix, with Burghardt initially going clear on his own, only for Vichot to catch and then pass him.
The Frenchman was joined by Tony Martin (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) with 35km to go and the duo were over a minute ahead of the peloton leading on to the final climb to Les Diablerets. Both men started to wilt, though, with first Vichot and then Martin being swallowed up on the lower slopes by a peloton being driven on by Team Sky's David Lopez, Richie Porte and Froome.
Kiserlovski immediately darted up the road and was soon joined by Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Marcel Wyss (IAM Cycling). Spilak also attacked out of the peloton and after both Lopez and Porte had dropped away, Froome had little other choice but to give chase.
He effortlessly bridged to Kiserlovski, Pinot and Wyss 8km out and kept driving on to subsequently catch up to Spilak, who had also overtaken the trio.
Froome and Spilak instantly started working together and built an advantage of over 40 seconds by the time they reached the 3km-to-go marker.
A chase group formed behind but they failed to close the gap, leaving Froome free to permit Spilak the stage win, safe in the knowledge his race lead had been significantly increased.
Stage four result
1 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha, 5:10:00
2 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, same time
3 Rui Costa (Por) Movistar, +1:03
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, st
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Blanco, st
6 Carlos Betancur (Col) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
7 Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling, st
8 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
9 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack-Leopard, st
10 Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi, st
1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 19:03:10
2 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha, +47secs
3 Rui Costa (Por) Movistar, +1:21
4 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack-Leopard, +1:22
5 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, +1:26
6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, st
7 Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp, st
8 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Blanco, +1:27
9 Carlos Betancur (Col) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +1:28
10 Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling, +1:43