Howson loses time as he battles through the Queen stage of the Tour de Romandie

Sat 4 May 2019

Australian Damien Howson lost time on the general classification after battling on through the shortened but punishing Queen stage of the Tour de Romandie.

The 27-year-old began to suffer on the final climb of the day and has now dropped to 19th overall on the general classification with just tomorrow’s time trial around Geneve left for the peloton to face.

Short But Tough

With the stage shortened to just 107-kilometres due bad weather on the Col des Mosses, there was a fierce battle to get into the day’s breakaway, with riders hoping to stay away until the category one summit finish.

Eight riders eventually broke clear and they opened up an advantage of two minutes over the top of first of the two categorised peaks, with Team Jumbo-Visma keeping things in check at the head of the peloton.

But with Dani Martinez (EF Education First) a threat to the overall lead, the peloton were keen to bring back the breakaway to a manageable distance ahead of the summit finish in Torgon. The escapees’ advantage still stood at two minutes as the race moved into the final 20-kilometres, with the eight riders working well together to maintain their advantage.

The Final Test

As the breakaway hit the climb their numbers began to diminish with Martinez upping the pace and riding clear of his fellow attackers with just Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) able to follow him on the lower slopes.  

The duo’s time out front was ended with five kilometres remaining with Team INEOS setting a strong tempo, and the pace proved too much for Howson. The attacks between the GC contenders began to roll under the three kilometres to go banner, but each move was quickly marked.

With a lull in the action race leader Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) then jumped clear before being shut down under the flame rouge, however the Slovenian had enough to go again, coming out on top in the sprint for the line, while Howson rolled home in a group 1’44” down in 32nd place.

Damien Howson:
“I don’t want to make excuses for myself by saying it was the crash or the weather or anything like that. The guys have done a phenomenal job all week and today especially, they gave me the best possible chance to put a good overall result together.”

“There were a few solid moves going right from the bottom of the final climb as the breakaway was coming back, but I started to feel the pinch maybe four or five kilometres from the line.”

“If it was a sunny, nice day I would have liked to have done the original course. It would have been more taxing throughout the day and there would have been less numbers on the final climb which would have taken the acceleration out of a lot of guys. I’d have preferred a longer, drawn out battle, but it was the right decision to shorten the stage.”

“I was really confident with how I was going ahead of today and I know the form is good, I’ve just had a baD patch at the end there on the final climb which was obviously critical for the GC.”

Tour de Romandie Stage 4 Results:
1. Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) 2:42:21
2. Rui Costa (UAE Team-Emirates) ST
32. Damien Howson (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +1:44

Tour de Romandie General Classification after Stage 4:
1. Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) 8:32:13
2. Rui Costa (UAE Team-Emirates) +0:12
19. Damien Howson (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +2:19

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.