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A young Swiss star emerged at Tour de Romandie on Friday as Stefan Küng (BMC) rode alone through the rainy Swiss mountains to win stage 4.
Küng, 21, escaped a group of four others to ride solo to his second victory this season, at the end of the 169.8km stage, which included three categorized climbs from La Neuveville to Fribourg.
“I like the rain; I like the cold,” said Küng “I was thinking about how I could win. … When it was the moment, I went.
“When I reached the top of the last GPM [climb] I quite knew it was a good moment.”
The day’s breakaway included Kung, Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha), Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale), and Bert-Jan Lindemann (LottoNL-Jumbo).
In the latter part of the race, Küng set off alone, riding away from his three companions through the rain.
With 15 kilometers remaining, the lone breakaway rider was 2:28 up the road.
With Tinkoff-Saxo driving the peloton, the gap was soon under two minutes.
Bakelants and Lindeman dangled in the gap between Kung and the peloton, as the difference between the leader and the field dropped to 1:24, with nine kilometers left.
With a little over six kilometers to race, a duo of Etixx-Quick-Step riders attacked the peloton: multi-time world time trial champion Tony Martin, and Julian Alaphilippe.
With five kilometers left, Kung was 1:21 ahead, and the Etixx duo trailed him by 1:06. Bakelants and Lindeman were still second and third on the road, about 30 seconds behind.
However, Küng would not be denied. The young Swiss drove hard to the line, pushing a 54-tooth chainring, which he said he’d asked his mechanic to install prior to the stage for this very purpose.
Bakelants won the sprint for second, and Lindeman was third.
Martin hung on to finish fourth, ahead of a charging peloton.
Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) kept the overall lead heading into Saturday’s fifth stage, which is expected to be a decisive day — 166.1km with four category-one climbs and a summit finish.