Howson gets up for another top 10 on stage three of the Tour de RomandieFri 3 May 2019
Australian Damien Howson picked himself up off the floor to take 10th place as the general classification contenders battled it out on stage three of the Tour de Romandie.
The day came down to a fight on the short, steep ramp to the finish line in Romont with Howson recovering from an early crash to move to the fore in the finale and jump into seventh overall.
It was another hilly affair on the cards and the first climb of the day came in the opening 20-kilometres. Five riders used the ascent as a springboard to form the day’s breakaway and veteran Michael Albasini made sure he was amongst them before two more riders joined to boost the numbers to seven.
Their advantage grew to one and a half minutes over the second categorised climb of the day, but Team Jumbo-Visma were keeping the gap at a manageable distance with escapee Andrey Amador (Movistar) a threat on the general classification.
With that in mind Albasini opted to drop back to the peloton, leaving the breakaway behind as the tempo was starting to be ramped up in a bunch looking to not to repeat their mistake of the previous day.
EF Education First joined the chase heading into the final 30-kilometres and the injection of pace quickly wiped out the breakaway’s advantage. The escapees’ time out front came to an end as the peloton reached the final categorised climb of the day and the GC contenders moved to the fore.
No attacks were forthcoming on the slopes with the pack seemingly saving themselves for the steep uncategorised ascent to the finish line. Moves began to roll out of the pack through the intermediate sprint, but the bunch were in no mood to allow anyone to escape.
The stage was set for a showdown on the steep ramp to the finish line with Howson being moved into position by his Mitchelton-SCOTT teammates. But it was a waiting game amongst the contenders with the sprint being left until the finish line was in sight. In the end it was David Gaudu (Groupama FDJ) who timed his kick perfectly to take the win, while Howson rolled home in 10th to improve his GC position.
“It was just a matter of the wrong composition in the breakaway for Alba to have a chance at staying away today. He was committed to getting in the break but with Amador there that move was never going to be allowed to contest the finish.”
“The boys did a really good job in the final for me, there was a category two climb not too far out from the finish which made the group a little bit smaller, but I still had Tsgabu (Grmay) and Cam (Meyer) there with me and they moved me into position heading into the final kilometre which was crucial."
“I’m in a good position now, I’ve moved into seventh overall coming into the Queen stage tomorrow. It will be interesting to see what the weather does, that could play a key role, but the stage is really remanding so I hope to have good legs like I’ve had so far because tomorrow will make a big difference for the GC.”
Tour de Romandie Stage 3 Results:
1. David Gaudu (Groupama - FDJ) 3:50:53
2. Rui Costa (UAE Team-Emirates) ST
10. Damien Howson (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:03
Tour de Romandie General Classification after Stage 2:
1. Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) 8:32:13
2. David Gaudu (Groupama - FDJ) +0:06
7. Damien Howson (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:25
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.