In Sion, it’s easy to picture yourself in earlier centuries. Towering over the medieval city are the Rock of Tourbillon, with a ruined castle from the 13th century at its peak, and the Rock of Valeria, which finds a fortified church from the 12th century at its summit: Valère basilica.
Once in every two years, the Tour de Romandie visits the town – or so it seems. In 2012, Luis León Sánchez outsprinted a select group after a mountainous stage. In 2014, the peloton disintegrated on a climb that was crested with 10 kilometres before Michael Albasini took the stage honours in a group sprint, besting Jesús Herrada and Ramunas Navardauskas.
Two years ago, Sion served as a host to a 15.1 kilometres individual time trial. Thibaut Pinot put 2 seconds into Tom Dumoulin to take the win, while Bob Jungels finished in third.
This edition the Sion stage is spiced up by five ascents. The first kilometres roll trough the Rhône Valley before the route turns right for a 8.9 kilometres climb at 9.4% to the thermal spa centre of Ovronnaz. The middle section of 3 kilometres is toughest with an average gradient of 11.5%, although the last 3 kilometres are not for the faint of heart either – 9.8%. The riders can take comfort as the steepest slopes of the day are behind them when they reach the summit at kilometre 17.7.
After approximately one hour the route once again moves through Sion only to follow the Rhône further upstream. At 65 kilometres the riders take a right-hander and hit the second climb, which goes to mountain village Vercorin. It’s a steady ascent of 9.6 kilometres with an average gradient of 8.1%.
Straight after the descent the road once again points uphill. The climb to Nax is also steady, yet less long and less steep – 6.6 kilometres at 6.1%. Hardly time for a breather at the top though, as shortly it’s all systems go again on the road to Suen. The first 2 kilometres go up at 8%, but the slopes flattens out and the 5.7 kilometres climb is averaging 5.2%.
More than 55 kilometres remaining and one climb left. The ascent to Les Collons amounts to 13.1 kilometres, so this is the longest drag up of the day. The average gradient is 6.5% with both the first and the last five kilometres at over 7%.
From Les Collons to the line in Sion is 27.4 kilometres. This is mostly on descent with some minor kicks up, while the last kilometres in the Rhône Valley are on the flat.
The first three riders on the line take time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds.
Read also: results/race report 4th stage Tour de Romandie 2018.
Tour de Romandie 2018 stage 4: Route maps, height maps, and more
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