Sky's Froome defends his overall lead from the front with an assist from Katusha's Spilak on a weather-shortened queen stage
Simon Spilak (Katusha) won stage 4 of the Tour de Romandie on Saturday, a whisker ahead of race leader Chris Froome (Sky).
Rui Da Costa (Movistar) emerged from what remained of the bunch to take third on the day.
The 188km fourth stage was shortened by snow — organizers took out the second ascent of the Col de la Croix — and Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) found himself off the front in the final 20km, hoping to make up his 29-second deficit to race leader Froome. And then Robert Kiserlovski (RadioShack-Leopard) — fourth overall at 13 seconds behind — had a go with 12km remaining.
Marcel Wyss (IAM Cycling) and Thibault Pinot (FDJ), seventh overall at 17 seconds, bridged to Kiserlovski as behind, Froome found himself isolated with 9km to race and the weather worsening.
That wasn’t the problem it seemed. When Simon Spilak (Katusha) attacked, Froome followed, and in short order the two were out front in a soaking rain, with Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde and Da Costa and Garmin-Sharp’s Tom Danielson well behind in a chase group that was not working well together.
That bunch would cross more than a minute down on the stage winner and race leader, and it appeared that Froome had clinched the overall with one stage remaining — Sunday’s 18.7km individual time trial in Geneva.
Spilak had moved into second overall, 47 seconds behind Froome, with Da Costa third at 1:21.
“It was a very good stage for me,” said Spilak. “I like bad weather, so I felt in great shape.
“The team worked perfectly until the last climb: we did it twice, so I had the time to find the right place to attack. Later on, Froome followed me and we worked and cooperated very well until the finishing line.
“I’m really happy with this victory. … Now I’m second in general classification, so my goal is to keep the podium until the end.”