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”I was doubtful about which bike should I bring into this course, the road race one or the TT one - but I saw Gorka doing great on the Speedmax and I took a last-minute change, when I was already set to start with the traditional one....

Photo: Movistar Team

TOUR DE ROMANDIE

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
26.04.2016 @ 22:46 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ion Izagirre proved that it is not all about Nairo Quintana at the Movistar team in the Tour de Romandie as he rode to a dominant victory in the technical and hilly 3.95km prologue. Having stopped the clock in 5.33, he put a massive six seconds into Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) who like the rest of the late starters was hampered by heavy rain that caused several crashes on the slippery and technical descent. Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) was one second further adrift in third.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Ion Izagirre: My brother played a big role in this victory

Ion Izagirre has shown again why he's considered one of Spain's biggest talents in cycling by claiming a convincing win in the 2016 Tour de Romandie prologue, a 3.95km up-and-down course in La Chaux-de-Fonds with a tricky descent, some serious ramps and unmerciful weather.

 

The 27-year-old Basque allrounder managed like no other into that situation, with a sensational descent following his 2nd quickest time through the intermediate point at the Côte de la Route de la Montagne -only beaten by Belgian youngster Louis Vervaeke (LTS)-  that turned into an impressive 5'33", out of reach for all his rivals. Tom Dumoulin (TGA) was the nearest contender at 6", with Michael Kwiatkowski (SKY) rounding off the podium at 7”.

 

The fantastic opening day for the squad directed by José Luis Arrieta and José Luis Laguía was complete with four of its members in the day's top 20: Gorka Izagirre was 5th; Andrey Amador came in 13th spot at the beginning of his last pre-Giro contest and Nairo Quintana, 4th at the intermediate, still managed to claim the 18th place despite going as safe as he could on the wet descent. The Blues' solidness will be at stake from tomorrow's 167km trek towards Moudon, three categorized climbs on the route, in a race with almost no respite for the GC guys.

 

Ion Izagirre said:

 

"I knew my condition was still great after the classics and this result is a happy confirmation of that. We checked the course at noon today and I really liked it, with that short, sharp climb followed by the technical descent, through the small houses before the finish. It all turned out well and we're so happy to get this win.

 

”I was doubtful about which bike should I bring into this course, the road race one or the TT one - but I saw Gorka doing great on the Speedmax and I took a last-minute change, when I was already set to start with the traditional one. To be honest, my brother played a big part in this victory, with those good time checks - he was fantastic.

 

”Now it's time to enjoy this victory; we don't know how the week will go. We've got a strong team, with Nairo always on good form, Andrey testing his legs before the Giro... Let's hope we can keep this jersey!

 

"Winning is always a great feeling, it's a good thing to win a World Tour prologue. I'm glad as it gives me a lot of desire for the future. I hoped for it before the race. I checked the course this afternoon. It was fun with this ascent and technical descent. I knew I could do well on this route and at the end I could win so I'm happy. I'm not bad in the time trial and I've done well before. This is probably the best win I've had so far in the time trial even if it is true that the weather was a little in my favor.

 

"I was not sure whether to go with a time trial or a traditional bike and when I saw Gorka (Izagirre) do a good time on a time trial bike, I decided to change. The asphalt was drying so I took the TT bike and it went well.”

 

"The goal now is to keep this yellow jersey. There are still five days and we have a strong team here with Nairo (Quintana) in good condition and also Andrey (Amador) who is preparing for the Giro. So I hope to keep this jersey as long as possible. If this is not possible, I hope that my teammates will take it. 

 

“This is the kind of racing I like. I can see that I improve in this kind of event and this victory gives me confidence to one day fight for victory in these one-week races. There are still several days and difficult stages. There are great riders and favorites. We'll see what happens next. "  

 

Tom Dumoulin after second place in Romandie: Izagirre was superior

Tom Dumoulin finished in second place in the Tour de Romandie prologue of 3.95 km around the city of La Chaux-de-Fonds. Dumoulin wanted to start off the race with a strong ride and that’s what he managed to achieve.

 

With a time of 5’39” and an average pace of almost 42km/h, Dumoulin raced to second place , 6″ behind the winner Ion Izagirre (Movistar Team). This solid performance puts him in contention for the general classification.

 

Tom Dumoulin said:

 

“I did a good prologue, but unfortunately it was not enough for the win as the winner was superior today.”

 

Coach Arthur van Dongen added:

 

“Tom really rode a good prologue especially in the tough weather conditions, and although the result was a little less than we were hoping for it was the maximum possible today. Technically, Tom rode a good race and he paced his effort very well. Jon was just faster today.

 

“Our performances are heading in the right direction and for the general classification, we are in a good position for the stages to come.”

 

Sky impressed by Froome’s climbing and Kwiatkowski’s descending in Romandie prologue

Michal Kwiatkowski and Geraint Thomas produced powerful performances to finish third and fourth respectively in the opening 3.9km prologue at the Tour of Romandie.

 

The duo both crossed the line in five minutes and 40 seconds, with Kwiatkowski pipping his team-mate by seven hundredths of a second to claim a place on the podium.

 

Those results proved just seven seconds down on stage winner Jon Izagirre (Movistar), and Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) pipped the Team Sky duo to second place by one solitary second.

 

Chris Froome meanwhile, finished 26 seconds back in 60th position having had to contend with wet conditions in Switzerland.

 

Speaking to TeamSky.com back on the bus Kwiatkowski admitted it was tough out on the course, but he was pleased to post a quick time.

 

He said:

 

"It was a very difficult day for us in tough conditions. I chose to ride a road bike for safety reasons because it was such a technical parcours, and I did my best. I want to congratulate Izagirre because he did a really great time trial.

 

"I felt more confident descending on the wet roads on my road bike and I knew I could gain some time on the technical parts. I'm happy that I managed to do it so quickly and so smoothly."

 

Previewing the rest of the week, the Pole added that he's looking forward to helping out team-mate Froome.

 

He added: "I will be committed to helping Chris for the rest of the week. He had some bad luck today with even worse conditions than I endured, but he will be there, and the whole team will be ready to help him get the victory."

 

Sport Director Nico Portal was full of praise for Kwiatkowski's ride.

 

He said: "He did a brilliant time trial. He was on it from the beginning, he did a really good time up the climb and then he gained lots of seconds on the descent. Obviously he rode in mostly dry conditions and then it started to rain again so that was nasty for Froomey.

 

"He posted the fastest time on the climb out of our riders so he was going super fast, it was all looking good, it's just a shame that he had to deal with rain on the descent - but all is looking good for the week ahead.

 

"The guys are in good spirits on the bus. The weather is going to be tough again tomorrow and it's a long stage, it will be very cold, but we are hoping for the best - and for it to stay dry!"

 

Parts of the course were blanketed in snow at the start of the day but by the midway point of the stage the worst of the weather had cleared and the roads has started to dry out, allowing faster times to be set.

 

The heavens opened once again though with around half an hour to go, and Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) was one of several casualties, slipping off on a particularly severe bend midway around the punchy course.

 

Froome didn't take any chances on that or any other tricky turns, and did well to limit his losses and remain well in contention heading into the rest of the week.

 

Elsewhere, Mikel Nieve completed the course in under six minutes, while Alex Peters, Ben Swift, Salvatore Puccio and Ian Stannard all finished safely.

 

Moreno Moser back in form with excellent prologue in Romandie

Moreno Moser was Cannondale’s top finisher on the day. Starting in the top half of the 160 rider field, Moser sat in the hot seat for quite a while. At the end of the day, he earned himself a solid 6th place.

 

Moreno said:

 

"I've always liked this kind of effort, really short and explosive, and I knew that I had a good chance to get a good result."

 

Coppel hopes to strike back in long time trial, Frank pleased with prologue performance

“My start was in a lucky time slot,” Reto Hollenstein commented after his strong ride earned him an excellent 7th place in the prologue.  “The road had dried.  I had a fright at the bottom of the hill because my visor had all misted over.  Then I just gave it everything on the run into the finish.  Now we are ready to do everything possible to help Mathias Frank play a leading role in the overall.”

 

The snow, rain and the sun played with the nerves of the riders and mechanics, especially in regards to the best type of bike to use for this technical and demanding prologue.  Rik Verbrugghe, sports manager for IAM Cycling, recognized this conundrum facing the riders. 

 

“Personally, I was convinced that a time trial bike would be the best solution.  All the Movistar riders chose to ride their specialized time trial machines.”

 

The Swiss team’s leader for the general classification, Mathias Frank, lost 17 seconds to the Spanish Movistar rider, Ion Izaguirre. Frank, who comes from Luzern in central Switzerland, was pleased to have limited the damage. 

 

“I rode the prologue with a normal road bike, and I do not regret the decision.  I felt comfortable, and I managed to negotiate the most technical parts of the course without problems, in spite of the difficulties presented by the poor weather.  I am not far behind the guys who will likely be playing for the general classification.”

 

“I am definitely disappointed,” Jérôme Coppel sighed after he had to run his race under rainy, slippery conditions.  “Though I had a good start, I lost everything in the downhill.  It was really very dangerous, and I did not want to take any risks.  I hope to redeem myself in the time trial that will be in Sion.  They have luckily forecasted sun for that day.”

 

Impressive Louis Vervaeke the fastest on climb in Tour de Romandie prologue

Louis Vervaeke finished eighth in the prologue at eleven seconds of the winner and he set the fastest time at the intermediate point. The young Belgian is the first leader in the KOM classification and in the youth classification.

 

”Happy with the prologue of #TDR. Will try to defend the best young ride’sr jersey. The mountains jersey @DeGendtThomas can take I hope,” he tweeted.

Tejay van Garderen after 9th place in Romandie prologue: I think I got a bit lucky

Tejay van Garderen stopped the clock at 5’44 in the opening 3.95km prologue at the Tour de Romandie to secure ninth place overall.

 

He said:

 

“There was a window of pretty good roads and I think I got a bit lucky as Richie and some of the later guys in the last wave didn’t get so lucky, but that’s kind of prologues isn’t it? It’s always good to start on the front instead of on the back. There are a couple of the GC guys ahead of me, but to take a few seconds on some of the other guys like Froome and Quintana is always a bonus.

 

“We all trained really well and altitude camp in Italy and we’re all really motivated for this race as it’s an important one for the team and with Andy Rihs being here in Switzerland. So we’re all here ready to put on a good show.”

 

Disappointed Richie Porte: It wasn’t sensible to take any risks

“It’s a little bit disappointing. I think it was the luck of the draw with the weather. It’s not the best of starts as I know I’ve lost some time but there’s still three hard stages so we’ll see what we can take out of this race.

“When I started warming up thirty minutes before my start the weather was absolutely brilliant with dry roads and then just as I finished the warm up I saw the rain coming down. It wasn’t sensible to take any risks out there so I think the main thing is to go into tomorrow without losing any skin.”

 

Martijn Keizer targets Giro prologue after great start in Romandie

Martijn Keizer finished 10th in the Tour de Romandie prologue this afternoon. The time trial specialist of Team LottoNL-Jumbo finished the four kilometres around La Chau-de-Fonds 12 seconds behind winner Ion Izaguirre (Movistar). Wilco Kelderman slipped and fell during his race, and lost 33 seconds.

 

 “I’m not satisfied with my time trial, but a 10th place in a WorldTour race isn’t bad,” Keizer said. “It was difficult for me to find the right focus. I just returned from a three-week training camp at altitude so I didn’t race since four weeks.

 

 “It was a day full of doubt. It was a strange time trial with a steep climb in it. That’s why I didn’t start on my time trial bike. The weather changed all the time, as well. When you look at my preparation, this tenth place is fine, but I want to climb into the top five of the Giro d’Italia’s prologue.”

 

Kelderman and Campenaerts crash in Tour de Romandie prologue

With his 10th place, Keizer highlighted a gloomy first day in Switzerland for Team LottoNL-Jumbo. Wilco Kelderman and Victor Campenaerts both crashed during their runs.

 

“It wasn’t the best day in my cycling career,” Sports Director Frans Maassen said.

 

He saw Campenaerts misjudge a turn and taken to the hospital.

 

“He broke some teeth and his nose and has a concussion. In a moment of distraction, he went straight in the first right-hand turn.”

 

Given the circumstances, Campenaerts is doing well, but has to spend the night in the hospital.

 

Kelderman didn’t suffer as much damage.

 

“He was very fast uphill and was heading for a strong result,” Maassen continued. “It was raining heavily during his race and he fell on the descent. That was a pity. He went for it and took some risks, but it’s not over yet. Most of the top favourites in the general classification weren’t too much faster and his abrasions aren’t too bad either.”

 

The first stage of the Tour de Romandie is going to be an unpredictable one. The stage might end up in a bunch sprint, but the weather could help produce a different outcome.

 

“The weather is going to be bad,” Maassen said. “I think that Movistar will control the race for their leader. It would be good for us if the stage ends up in a sprint.”

 

Thibaut Pinot: The goal was not to lose time

It has become a habit, it is even a trademark! Thibaut Pinot has been up there in most itme trials for 15 months and the leader of the FDJ team did a very nice prologue.

 

Pinot finished eleventh 12 seconds behind winner Ion Izagirre (Movistar), 6 seconds behind specialist Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), 5 seconds Kwiatkowski and Thomas (Team Sky) and 1 second behind van Garderen (BMC). All his other rivals for the general classification were behind.

 

"It was a short time trial," explained sports diretor Thierry Bricaud, "but really not easy to manage. Already because of the weather, the rain fell in showers and there was a really cold atmosphere. And because it was not a straight effort. About 6 minutes of effort, the favorable effect of a TT bike could only be felt for 30 to 40 seconds. Thibaut opted without hesitation for a normal bike. Like Alexandre Geniez who finished four seconds behind him. Thibaut was good. This is a good start for him."

 

 

"Thibaut did a clean time trial. He was pleased with himself after having had a little apprehension as the conditions were not easy. I must say that Alex also did a nice TT but he had fun in the technical parts as he really knows how to handle his bike."

 

"The goal was not to lose time. The course was quite technical and dangerous because you had to cut corners on the sidewalk. There were a few drops just after the start which added a bit of nervousness, as if that was not enough. These are the circumstances of a prologue,” Thibaut Pinot said.

 

Michael Albasini unhurt after Romandie crash

South African National time trial champion Daryl Impey finished in twelfth place in the prologue on the opening day of the Tour De Romandie today after cold and wet conditions led to many cautious performances and a crash for Michael Albasini.

 

After finishing in second place in Sunday’s epic Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Albasini posted the fourth fastest splittime before crashing on the descent and crossing the line 46seconds down on stage winner Jon Izagirre (Movistar). Impey produced a strong performance for Orica-GreenEDGE, provisionally occupying the number one spot with a time of five minutes 46seconds.

 

Sport director Neil Stephens was relieved all of the Orica-GreenEDGE riders came through the cold and damp prologue in one piece.

 

“It was a great ride from Daryl (Impey),” said Stephens. “The roads were really wet throughout the day but fortunately it had stopped raining by the time he hit the course and he was able to put the hammer down.

 

“Michael (Hepburn) was really up for it but he was one of the first guys off the ramp and couldn’t get any traction on the road surface, it was that bad in the beginning.”

 

Stephens continued by praising the overall good condition of the team.

 

“Everyone rode well today, we didn’t have anyone too far down the placings and it’s a real testament to the great condition that the guys are in.

“Michael (Albasini) hit the deck and it looked much worse than it actually was because he got straight back up and posted a decent time. Im happy that we all came through today in one piece and we can look forward to tomorrow and a decent road stage.”

 

"I preferred to take the traditional bike for the climb rather than for security, Michael Albasini told Velopro.net. “With the traditional bike, you are more confident and it is also lighter. Furthermore, I'm not very comfortable with the TT bike. Unfortunately I crashed on the descent. The surface was slippery and there was gravel.”

 

Alexey Lutsenko lamets mechanical after strong start in Romandie

“14 seconds from the winner is a good result but it could have been better if I had not had a mechanical problem while I approached the climb,” said Alexey Lutsenko while doing massages after the stage.

 

“I think I’ve lost 5-6 seconds that could have allowed me to be in the top 10 for sure,” continued the Kazakh ITT champion. “I’m a little disappointed about this but, at the same time, I can be confident about my condition.”

 

“I have fully recovered from the injury at my left hand suffered during Amstel Gold Race and I really want to do good in the stages that fit to my characteristics,” concluded the promising rider of the Astana Pro Team.

 

Lutsenko finished 14th at 14 seconds from the winner. Italian Diego Rosa, 10th in last Sunday’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege, did well by finishing 15th 1 second from his team mate.

 

Jan Bakelants: Tomorrow’s stage in Romandie could suit me

"It was cold with some snow and wet roads,” Jan Bakelants said after his 16th place. “I felt strong. I started quickly. I gave my maximum to the top of the climb. Then I managed my descent with a mix of speed and security. I finished 4 seconds behind the leader at that time. I am satisfied. I will take the stages one after the other. Tomorrow could suit me. Uhe Tour de Romandie is a hard race with plenty of summit finishes. "

 

Romain Bardet happy with prologue performance in Romandie

"I like this kind of prologue with many turns,” Romain Bardet said. “I chose to start among the first and the road was then allowed to dry for some riders. I'm pretty happy with my performance. The Tour de Romandie is at a very high level. As the end of the first part of the season I want to have fun and try to win a stage. There are great opportunities.

 

"The weather was set to be best at the start so I started early. Later, it was sunny (for one hour) . I lost some time in the wet corners. It is only a warm-up.”

 

Enrico Gasparotto continues strong run of form in Romandie prologue

"Today, I used my normal bike because the roads were not so dry. I felt more comfortable. I didn't take many risks in the corners because that was dangerous. I finished at 15 seconds behind Izaguirre. That's good,” Enrico Gasparatto said after taking 17th in the stage

 

Wrong gamble for Rui Costa in Tour de Romandie prologue

Rui Costa, who started early, rode on wet roads and he had to be careful especially in the descent. His was 33rd in the stage classification, 20″ behind the winner. Tsgaby Grmay completed the prologue in a time that was 5 seconds slower than Rui Costa’s.

 

“We had consulted the weather forecasts, which said that there should have been bad weather conditions all afternoon so together with Rui we decided that he should start early,” sports director Pedrazzini explained. “Rui had to be careful because of the wet roads and he did a fairly good performance, however he’s far from the higher positions of the stage classification because some riders could exploit a pause from the bad weather.”

 

”What a cold day,” Costa wrote in his diary. “The very low temperatures and snow made it hard. Today I did ​​my time trial on wet roads and the temperatures were around 4-5ºC from start to finish. We chose to start early because the trend was the weather would worsen throughout the day but it did not happen like that. The day began with very bad weather and ended up in the same way. But the middle was open and many riders had the luck and the advantage of riding on dry roads. They could risk more when cornering, brake  less and gain some advantages.

“In my opinion I did a good Time Trial. If we analyze the riders who had the same weather conditions as me, I would be very well positioned in this prologue. Therefore, the balance of today is very positive.”

 

Jack Bobridge targets Giro prologue after solid start in Romandie

Snow flurries fell on the riders with temperatures between two and four degrees Celsius as winter has not released its grip in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland for the start of the Tour of Romandie Tuesday.

 

The brief 3.95-kilometers course managed to contain a little bit of everything: a climb at the beginning (1.32km, 5.3%, max. 9%), a sharp hairpin turn in a tricky descent followed by plenty of corners, and a run-in suited to the powerful riders.

 

The riders used a range of equipment, the majority choosing to ride a standard road bike due to the technical nature of the short course and the snow adding wet, slick conditions, but when the roads dried more time trial machines appeared.

 

Jon Izaguirre (Movistar) won the race against the clock in a time of 5 minutes and 33 seconds, six seconds faster than Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin).  They both used time trial bikes, but third-placed Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) – one second off Dumoulin's pace -  blazed over the course on his road machine.

 

Time trial specialist Jack Bobridge, who recently joined the team from Australia, was the quickest of the Trek team in 5 minutes and 53 seconds, finishing in 34th place.

 

"I think the cold affected me a little bit coming from Australia and 30 degrees (Celsius)," Bobridge responded when asked about the wintry conditions. "I think today I had good sensations in the legs. The course dried out for the last guys so the times were getting quicker and quicker.

 

“I felt good throughout the prologue. I had a tougher time in Liege the other day, but the legs were still pretty good there considering the travel and the cold. I look forward to the rest of the week, and the chrono coming up in two days' time; I think it's good for me, and maybe for the Giro prologue, after the work I have done in Australia on the track.”

 

"At the start of the day using a road bike was better for the climb and descent with all the corners – I think it was quicker – but when the roads dried it was probably better to use the TT bike. As you can see, the results are pretty mixed. Some of the fastest times are on road bikes. Road or TT bikes are pretty similar on this course because of the technical descent."

 

Bauke Mollema: It was on the limit to do a prologue in these conditions

The first riders had to deal with wet roads from the snow flurries, and while the roads dried out for some of the later starters, a drizzle of rain started at the end, leaving Bauke Mollema to deal with a slippery tarmac again.

 

Mollema crossed the line 4 seconds off Bobridge's time and 24 seconds slower than Izaguirre for 46th place, safely keeping him in contention in the overall classification hunt.

 

"The legs were quite okay, but it was only two days after Liege, and it was quite a short prologue," explained Mollema, who was satisfied with his effort but feeling he did not have his best race. "It was four degrees and it started to rain again just when I started and it gets you out of your comfort zone a bit. That's how it is, it was just bad luck. It was a bit of a crazy prologue, it was snowing when we did the recon, and it was close to the limit I think to do this race. I just did what I could, and if I compare with the guys who started around me, it was quite a good time.”

 

"On the climb and the descent I go faster on the road bike, and a TT bike is always heavier," he added in explaining his equipment selection. "I am used to the position on the road bike during climbs so if felt better to me. It was only the first 500 meters and last 600 meters where you had an advantage with a TT bike. I think in the end it did not really matter much. The top two had TT bikes but then 3rd and 4th places used a road bike. It was just a personal decision."

 

Tomorrow the Tour of Romandie continues with a lumpy stage one expected to end in a reduced bunch sprint.

 

Katusha: Today we saw a very good Simon Spilak

The 70th edition of the six-day Tour de Romandie began on Tuesday with a short opening prologue that threw a little bit of everything at the riders in terms of weather. The 3,95k effort took place along the city streets in La Chaux-de-Fonds  and saw Team KATUSHA riders Simon Špilak and Pavel Kochetkov perform the best of the team despite rain and snow on course.

 

“We knew in advance the weather would be decisive in this prologue. We decided to let Zakarin and Vorobyev start in the beginning of the race because we expected dry roads in the early afternoon but it turned out otherwise. Both riders had to do their TT on wet roads. Afterwards the roads were dry again and by the time the last riders, including Simon Špilak, started their TT’s, it started raining and snowing again. So no top time for us, but nobody crashed and I saw a very good Špilak. He finished better than other favorites like Froome and Majka. Simon is ready again for Romandie, like every year,” said team director Dmitriy Konyshev.

 

 

Simon Špilak and Pavel Kochetkov were at 22- and 23-seconds off the top time.

 

Rafal Majak opts for safety in Tour de Romandie prologue

After a day in cold and wet conditions, all of Tinkoff’s riders came home safe in the opening prologue of the 70th edition of the Tour de Romandie. Over a fast and urban course, punctuated by a small third category climb in the middle, Robert Kiserlovski was the first Tinkoff rider to finish, ending the day in 58th position, and team leader Rafal Majka in 68th position, a second slower.

 

The opening day’s prologue course was fast and technical. The route, which was only 3.95km, resembled a criterium course more than a time trial, and speeds in the opening and closing sections and the furious riding that took place, supported this.

 

After a series of testing bends at the start of the route, having to negotiate road furniture, manhole covers, kerbs and a damp road surface, riders faced the third category climb of the Rue de la Montagne. While only a short climb, it sufficiently broke up the course to the point that specialist time trial riders were not dominant on the stage. Many riders elected to use road bikes, as opposed to time trial bikes, owing to the climb and the technical nature of the course, where full control was required and there were few opportunities to stay in an aero position.

 

The weather was perhaps the biggest concern for the team, owing to the cold and damp conditions, as Sport Director, Patxi Vila explained.

 

“At the beginning the forecast said that the first half of the riders should be better so we got Manuele Boaro out early to set a good time, but the weather turned and we were unlucky there and couldn't do much.”

 

As the day went on, the weather came in, meaning Rafal Majka, who was the last of the team to go out, completed his ride with snow in the sky, crossing the finish line in 68th position. Vila was happy with his performance, given how difficult it would be to make an impact on such a short course.

 

“We put Rafal as last guy to be with the other GC contenders. In the middle of the day the stage dried and those guys got lucky, and then it got wet again for the guys at the end so he couldn't go all out, but he stayed upright which was the most important. Compared to the other contenders his time was OK and he is there or thereabouts where he should be. It's a prologue, and of course we want to win every day we can, but today it was very tough for us in the conditions.”

 

After a crash in the difficult weather conditions at Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, there were concerns over Majka’s condition coming to Romandie, but Vila was clear that the Tinkoff leader had suffered no ill effects.

 

“Rafal was feeling good today. He didn't have any pain or problems from his crash on Sunday and so that looks good for the coming week.”

 

Stage 1 marks the beginning of the race proper. Riders will cover a 169km route that takes in four categorised climbs, that is expected to end in a sprint owing to the descent shortly before the finish. Now that a race leader had been selected, there wouldn't be much responsibility for Tinkoff to control the race, as Vila explained.

 

“Tomorrow will be one of the easier stages and now there's a leader's team to protect the jersey. We will see if we can give Adam Blythe a chance for the sprint as well as protecting Rafal and keeping him out of trouble ahead of Stage 2.”

 

Dimension Data stay safe in wet Romandie prologue

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka erred on the side of caution as the African Team also had to consider the debut appearance at the Giro d'Italia is also just around the corner. With a number of the riders here at Romandie set to possibly start the first grand tour of the year, safety was the first priority.

 

Cameron Meyer would be the highest placed finisher on the day as he stopped the clock 29 seconds after Izaguirre's winning time. The other 7 riders had no issues out on the course and now there is still all to race for over the coming 5 stages.

 

Sports director Oli Cookson said:

 

“When we arrived at the start the weather wasn't great. There was this mixture of snow, sleet and rain. Everyone was kind of debating as to whether the race would go ahead or not. It eventually did and our focus was to be safe and stay healthy. We made sure our riders stayed warm so that they would be ready for the upcoming stages, and also the longer term objectives like the Giro and California.

 

”During the middle part of the prologue the weather did ease up a bit, so some guys were able to take a few risks on the descent but it soon started to rain again so the guys rode solidly but used their heads. Cameron was our fastest today, he looked so smooth on the climb but with the rain coming down on the descent he rode sensibly. We are looking forward to some good racing in the next couple of days now.”

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