Tour de Romandie #5: Merhawi Kudus climbs with the best

Merhawi Kudus 1 Romandie Stage 1

Chris Froome (Team Sky) won the 4th stage of the Tour de Romandie, crossing the line a few seconds ahead of Ion Izaguirre (Movistar) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ). Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was able to retain the overall race lead.

After numerous attacks in the first 30km of the 4th Tour de Romandie stage, 11 riders finally managed to go clear of the peloton. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were represented by Cameron Meyer in the big break and they rode to a 2’00” lead just before reaching the first of 3 category 1 climbs on the day.

It was on this climb, the Col des Planches where 3 of the original breakaway riders attacked while Meyer and the others returned to the peloton. This is how the situation would remain for some time as Movistar controlled the peloton. Our African Team were riding to place Merhawi Kudus (pictured above) in a good position and then it was up to our young Eritrean to test his legs on the two final climbs.

As the riders reached the penultimate cat 1 climb of the stage, attacks came from the peloton which eventually caused the break to be caught and the main bunch to be drastically reduced. Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Tejay van Gaardren (BMC Racing) were the 2 riders who got the jump on the main group. They bridged the gap to the 2 remaining early leaders but soon pressed on ahead without them. Kudus followed the tempo being set by the Movistar team in the group of favourites and going over the top of the Barboleusaz, the peloton was down to just 30 riders, Kudus and Kanstantsin Siutsou included from our African Team.

The rain started to come down on the descent toward the final climb and it was at this point in time where the battle for the yellow jersey intensified. Kudus did well, following the moves right up until 4km to go where he then got distanced. Up the road, Froome was clearly on a good day as he left Van Garderen behind and rode away to a good stage win. The yellow jersey group followed just 5 seconds after Froome while Kudus was the next rider in, taking 17th on the stage.

Oli Cookson – Sport Director
It was a very hard stage today. Our main objective was for Merhawi to go for a good result and also to have a good test before the Giro. We knew the weather was going to turn so we had staff members all over the last mountain with warm tea and jackets. The race started really fast with a lot of attacks, Cameron was part of a big move but that came back. The other guys were just looking after Merhawi and Kanstantsin. On the 1st cat 1 climb Kristian Sbaragli punctured so we lost him unfortunately but all the guys were really good. On the penultimate climb, right near the top, it started to pour with rain. Merhawi and Kanstansin were in the favourites group and Natnael was only about 20 seconds off. In the wet and with Movistar pacing he wasn’t going to be able to make it back before reaching the valley. Kanstantsin was there with Merhawi though and he did an amazing job when it was all strung out. Merhawi rode well and it was only right at the end where he got tailed off from the big hitters. He can really be happy with his position and his form, considering the weather it was a really good day. One of the good things is we rode as a team, we wanted to look after Merhawi so we achieved our objectives.

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