The weather cooperated for stage three at the Tour de Romandie, and the dry conditions endorsed an expected bunch finish. While the sprinters knocked elbows in the finale, Fabio Felline and the rest of the team played it safe, rolling across the line in the bunch and conserving everything for the queen stage tomorrow.
"We were lucky the sun came out today but I personally was suffering a lot after yesterday's stage, and I was glad it was a field sprint today," said Pete Stetina about a welcomed day with no precipitation. "I was on the limit a lot; I could see on my SRM that my power was not very high so you know it's your body and you are physically capable of more. You just have to push through it. That's where it becomes mind over matter."
The whole team rallied around Fabio and Jarlinson again, and Fumy and Greg kept the break in check – just the two of them."
"The whole team rallied around Fabio and Jarlinson (Pantano) again, and Fumy (Beppu) and Greg (Daniel) kept the break in check – just the two of them," he continued. "It was an impressive ride by all the guys. The peloton decided to come to life extraordinarily early today, and it became a major fight for position in the last 80kms, even though the breakaway was in check. It just made for a lot of stress for no reason. Michael (Gogl) and Andre (Cardoso) really helped Fabio and Jarlinson in the hectic finale."
While Trek-Segafredo still had the onus of the work in the peloton in defending the overall race lead, there was plenty of support from other teams interested in a last opportunity for the fast men, and the breakaway was tagged back with 37 kilometers remaining.
As the race wound down the pace was fierce, and it was apparent a bunch finish would end the day despite a few antagonists trying their best to thwart the sprinters.
With two stages remaining, the general classification battle is coming down to the queen stage Saturday and an 18-kilometer individual time trial Sunday. Tomorrow's stage four will be instrumental for Trek-Segafredo in their bid to place the team's two top climbers as high as possible in the ranking ahead of the individual test on the final day.
"Tomorrow is the day of truth because it will make more of a difference than Sunday," Felline said in the post-race press conference. "I know it will be very difficult for me to defend the jersey, but like I said three days ago, it is going to give me the energy to do good things. All I can do is ride my race, and take it day by day. I will play my cards all the way to the finish line. As I always say: When you've given it your best, you have no regrets; you have to be happy with the result."
"Fabio can climb," pointed out Stetina matter-of-factly. "When he's really motivated, he's a good climber, and we saw that in the Vuelta last year, so we have a lot of faith in him. Jarlinson's in good form, and they both have good time trials in their back pockets.
"Tomorrow is about getting both of them as high up on the leaderboard as possible so they can take advantage of that for Sunday. As for myself, it will be a good final test before the Giro. So we will try and make something happen."