This year’s Tour de Romandie was a thrilling edition, complete with freezing rain, heavy fog, unfortunate crashes, surprising wins, and GC drama. And it all began with a short 4km prologue in Oron.
Mike Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) got a stage win and nearly earned the biggest GC win of his career.
Here is a look at the numbers of what the world’s best did in the key moments of the key stages.
Looking like a squiggly ‘T’ from above, the prologue included two U-turns and a 10+% climb, all in just over four kilometers. Riders barely pedaled for a minute at a time before slamming on the breaks for a corner, or sprinting up the final climb.
Rohan Dennis (Ineos Grenadiers) set the early top mark of 5:26, which would never be beaten. Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) came close, blitzing the flat sections of the course, and flying up the final climb at over 600w.
Tratnik – Prologue:
- Time: 5:39
- Average Power: 472w (6.9w/kg)
- Normalized Power: 504w (7.4w/kg)
- Final climb: 1:49 at 578w (8.5w/kg)
Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) put in a shocking performance, finishing 13th ahead of Stefan Küng (Groupama–FDJ), Patrick Bevin, Alex Dowsett (Israel Start-Up Nation), and others. It was thought that time trials were the biggest weakness of the 26-year-old American, but with a performance like this, that may no longer be the case.
Triple world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) took his second win of the season in a reduced bunch sprint in Martigny. With four laps of a 33km loop to complete, the rain began to fall. Each lap featured the third-category climbs of Produit and Chamoson, which were difficult enough to drop Elia Viviani (Cofidis) and Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation).
The early breakaway was caught sooner than expected, and Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-QuickStep) hit out solo; but he was quickly reeled in. Tratnik went to the front at 500w again, and wound it up for his team’s sprinter, Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious). The 74kg Italian suffered on the climbs, but did enough to stay in contact with the front group, and ultimately contest the sprint. Colbrelli’s power data shows us just how strong WorldTour sprinters are, even on a 7% climb.
Colbrelli – Last climb up the Produit:
- Time: 7:50
- Average Power: 425w (5.9w/kg)
- Normalized Power: 447w (6.1w/kg)
Colbrelli – Last climb up the Chamoson:
- Time: 5:16
- Average Power: 429w (6w/kg)
- Normalized Power: 442w (6.1w/kg)
Tratnik led into the final few hundred meters, but when Colbrelli jumped with less than 250m to go, he hit a wall of headwind. The Italian couldn’t quite make it to the line before being passed by Sagan – Colbrelli’s sprint power was impressive to say the least, and he’d get another chance to time it right the very next day.
Colbrelli – Stage 1 Final 2km:
- Time: 2:26
- Average Power: 543w (7.5w/kg)
- Peak 15sec Power: 1,191w (16.1w/kg)
- Max Power: 1,430w (19.3w/kg)
Fireworks started on the Category 1 La Vue-des-Alpes climb with less than 30km to go. The climb was 7.8km at an average grade of 6.7%. Kuss, Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo) and Woods tried their luck, but were hauled back before the summit. Less than 40 riders were left as the peloton crested the climb and began the gradual descent towards the finish.
Colbrelli – La Vue-des-Alpes:
- Time: 20:11
- Average Power: 414w (5.8w/kg)
Sagan didn’t make it into the front group, which left Colbrelli as the odds on favorite for the sprint. The Italian delivered, coming off his team’s leadout inside the final 200m, and celebrating with arms aloft.
Colbrelli – Stage 2 Final 2km:
- Time: 2:00
- Average Power: 497w (6.9w/kg)
- Peak 15sec Power: 1,068w (14.8w/kg)
- Max Power: 1,413w (19.1w/kg)
Kuss and Woods attacked on the final climb, but it was the counter of Marc Soler (Movistar) that stuck. The Spaniard has a knack for attacking over the crest of climbs and soloing down to the finish, and this day was no different. With a major mountain test looming, the rest of the GC contenders were content to follow and save their legs for the Thyon 2000.
The fourth stage was an instant classic. Torrential rain and freezing temperatures caused the descent of the penultimate climb of the day to be neutralized, a decision that was not the most popular in the peloton. Nevertheless, the 20.7km climb at 7.6% to Thyon 2000 was one of the biggest climbing tests of the year. Kuss, Woods, Thomas, and Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) were the heavy favorites for the day; but in the end, what we saw was… bizarre.
Movistar and Ineos swapped pulls on the front of the peloton for the first half of the Thyon 2000 climb. The temperature was dropping by the minute – check out the temperature reading on Woods’ power file – and heavy rain and fog chilled many riders to their bones. Few could match the relatively modest pace being set on the front – but in conditions like this, sometimes it’s just about surviving.
Woods went over the top of a series of attacks, and was moving towards the lead of the race with less than 5km to go. Thomas made his way across with 3km to go, joining the Canadian for the final few kilometers as the temperature neared freezing. With just a couple hundred meters to go, Thomas and Woods started their drag race to the line. Woods pulled alongside Thomas, but then, all of a sudden, the Brit was down in a heap.
As he went to get out of the saddle, Thomas lost his grip on this handlebars and went straight down to the ground. Fortunately, he would be ok, still finish third on the day, and… Well, you’ll see in a second.
Woods – Thyon 2000:
- Time: 1:00:55
- Average Power: 347w (5.5w/kg)
The final stage of the Tour de Romandie was a 16.2km time trial around Fribourg; but this was no ordinary time trial. Undulating terrain, a steep cobbled climb, and a rain-soaked descent made this TT anything but straight forward. Big names such as Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) and Stefan Küng (Groupama–FDJ) were nearly a minute off the pace and nowhere near the final podium.
Stefan Bissegger (EF Education–Nippo) set one of the fastest times early on, with only Cavagna beating the Swiss rider’s time. Said to be one of the most aerodynamic riders in the world, Bissegger’s power are barely impressive, and not even close to the world-beating numbers we usually see.
Bissegger – Stage 5 TT:
- Time: 22:00
- Average Power: 355w (4.6w/kg)
- Normalized Power: 407w (5.3w/kg)
In line with his own expectations, Woods lost nearly a minute to Thomas in the final TT, and ceded his leader’s jersey to the 2018 Tour de France champion. After a rollercoaster week, Ineos Grenadiers finished 1-2 in GC with Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte, and Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck-Quick Step) rounded up a quiet week to claim one of the biggest GC results of his career in third overall. Woods ultimately dropped to fifth in GC, but his dominating performance on Thyon 2000, coupled with an incredible showing at Liège-Bastogne-Liège just a few days before, sees him quickly becoming one of the best all-round riders in professional cycling.