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On a wet, hilly and technical course, Martin managed to beat the Katusha duo of Spilak and Zakarin who also made it a 1-2 in the overall standings, with the latter taking a breakthrough victory; Froome could only manage third

Photo: Etixx-QuickStep/Tim De Waele












03.05.2015 @ 16:13 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) lived up to his status as the overwhelming favourite in the Tour de Romandie time trial and managed to take his first time trial victory since the Volta ao Algarve in February. The German beat Simon Spilak (Katusha) by 11 seconds and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) by 13 seconds and that was enough for the Russian to take a surprise overall victory over his teammate Spilak and defending champion Chris Froome (Sky) who could not even make the top 10 in the time trial.


Last year Tony Martin dominated the time trials in the early part of the season but this year has been a testing one for the former world champion. After he took the win in the Volta ao Algarve TT in February, he has been unable to take a single victory in his preferred discipline.


In Paris-Nice and Vuelta al Pais Vasco, the courses were either too short or too hilly for the German to take the win and so he only had one chance left if he wanted to take another win before he takes a small mid-season break. However, he faced another difficult test if he wanted to open his WorldTour account as the final time trial in the Tour de Romandie was a hilly, wet and technical affair.


However, Martin lived up to his status as the overwhelming favourite as he managed to take the victory with a narrow margin. Unlike in many other stage races, he didn’t have to wait long in the hot seat as he solid climbing in this race meant that he was an early starter in Switzerland.


Already at the time check, it was evident that Martin was on a good day as he was a massive 18 seconds faster than Rohan Dennis (BMC) who was the leader at that point. He maintained his speed all the way to the finish to take the lead with a 22-second margin.


Most of the final rider were climbers who were not expected to pose any threat to the German but he still had to hold off Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep) and defending champion Chris Froome who were expected to be his biggest threats. However, none of them managed to live up to expectations and they could not even make it into the top 10, with the Colombian finishing 11th and the Brit taking 13th.


Instead, the Katusha pair of Simon Spilak and overall leader Ilnur Zakarin gave the German a scare as they turned out to be his biggest rivals. At the time check, the Slovenian was second, just 8 seconds behind Martin but it was Zakarin who delivered the surprise.


The Russian has always been known as a solid time triallis but few would have expect him to stop the clock at the time check with a time that was only 2 seconds off Martin’s mark. At this point, he was both in contention for the stage win and looked like he had secured the overall victory but then disaster struck.


Cresting the summit of the final small climb just after the time check, his chain came off and he had to stop for a bike change. The incident cost him 10-15 seconds and suddenly his overall victory seemed to be in danger.


However, he was unfazed by his bad luck and did an incredible descent to stop the clock in a time that was just 13 seconds off Martin’s mark which was enough to finish the stage in third and take the overall victory. In fact, he might even have taken the stage win if it hadn’t been for his bad luck.


Spilak made it a great day for Katusha as he finished second behind his teammate while defending champion Froome had to settle for third. Of Katusha also won the teams classification and as Maxim Belkov won both sprints and mountains jersey, it was a complete domination by the Russian team. Only the white jersey for best young rider escaped them as it was taken by Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) who slipped from second to fourth in the overall standings.


With the Tour de Romandie done and dusted, the WorldTour heads to Italy for the start of the grand tour season at the Giro d’Italia next Saturday. The next major races in Switzerland are the GP Gippingen and the Tour de Suisse in June.


A tricky time trial

After the queen stage, it was time for the final time trial which always plays a huge role in the Tour de Romandie. This year’s course brought the riders over 17.3km around Lausanne and was a pretty mixed affair. After a flat, non-technical start, the riders tackled three short, steep climbs on cobbles before they sped down a technical descent to the Lac Leman where they ended the stage by doing another flat section.


The riders had rainy condition when Matthias Brändle (IAM) headed down the ramp as the first rider. Being a TT specialist, he was expected to set a solid mark and his time of 24.53 saw him top the leaderboard for a little while.


Vorboyev takes the lead

His first threat was expected to be Rick Flens (LottoNL-Jumbo) but the Dutchman was 46 seconds off the mark. Instead, it was former U23 world champion Anton Vorobyev (Katusha) who moved into the lead with a time of 24.13.


Reto Hollenstein (IAM) became the third rider to go beyond the 25-minute mark as he moved into second but he was knocked down by Campbell Flakemore (BMC) who went four seconds faster.


Best time for Van Emden

Andriy Grivko (Astana) was the first rider to get close to Vorobyev by he was 15 seconds shy of the lead. Instead it was Jos Van Emden (LottoNL) who suddenly found his best TT legs and relegated the Russian by going one second faster.


Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale) and Geraint Thomas (Sky) were both far off the pace and instead it was Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ) who took some attention when he slotted into sixth. Kristof Vandewalle (Trek) was unable to live up to expectations and instead Christopher Juul Jensen (Tinkoff-Saxo) did well by slotting into fourth.


Küng moves into the hot seat

Much was expected from Stefan Küng (BMC) and the strong Swiss fully lived up to expectations as he overcame a deficit at the time check to take the lead by 12 seconds. Tobias Ludvigsson (Giant-Alpecin) proved that he has come back well from injury well as he slotted into fourth with a time of 24.23.


Rein Taaramae (Astana) was just 3 seconds slower while Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) also had a decent ride to narrowly miss the top 10. Nicolas Roche (Sky) was one second faster than the Frenchman but all eyes now were on Dennis who was expected to take the lead. He fully lived up to expectations as he went 21 seconds faster than Küng to make it a provisional 1-2 for BMC.


Martin takes the lead

Jonthan Castroviejo (Movistar) got close as he missed the mark by just 3 seconds and moments later his teammate Andrey Amador made it two Movistar riders in the top 4. However, everybody was now waiting for Martin who had been the fastest at the time check and he fully lived up to expectations by lowering the mark by 22 seconds.


Stef Clement (IAM) did his best time trial for years by slotting into fourth while Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r) missed out on a spot in the top 10. Jarlinson Pantano (IAM) and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) were slightly slower as they made it into 15th and 13th respectively.


Great ride by Van Den Broeck

Romain Sicard (Europcar) slotted into third but it was Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal) who became the first rider for some time to crack the top 10 when he made it into 7th. Steve Morabito (FDJ) did even better as he set the fifth best time before Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) slotted into sixth.


Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto Soudal) got a great confidence boost for the Giro when he managed to knock Dennis down to third, beating him by 3 seconds. Moments later Romain Bardet (Ag2r) did the time trial of his life to slot into fourth while local hero Mathias Frank (IAM) could only manage 15th.


Zakarin takes the overall

Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) set the seventh best time which was enough for him to move far up in the standings while Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) had another disappointing day to take 17th. Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) did surprisingly well to slot into 9th before Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep) disappointed with the 9th best time.


Nairo Quintana (Movistar) could only manage 19th before Spilak did his great ride to move into second, 11 seconds off Martin’s pace. He defended his virtual lead when Froome could only manage 12th and Pinot did even worse as he was 19th. Finally, Zakarin came back from his bad luck to take third and claim a breakthrough overall victory.



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