Kwiatkowski Wins Tour de Romandie Prologue
Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) has won the prologue of the Tour de Romandie. The Pole powered over the flat, 5.57-km course in Ancona, Switzerland in 6:22. Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp-POC) and Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) took second and third, respectively, at 0:04.
Kwiatkowski was a early starter. A number of riders challenged the Omega Pharma-Quick Step man. World time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) finished fifth at 0:05, while Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) finished one place higher than the German at 0:04.
The general classification hopefuls had mixed luck. Chris Froome (Sky), who finished 13th at 0:09, was the best placed of them. Richie Porte, Froome’s teammate, settled for 68th at 0:23. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) took 18th at 0:12, while Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) was 24th at 0:13. World road race champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) and Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp-POC) took 35th and 36th, respectively, at 0:15. Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) crashed and finished 151st and last at 3:21.
Kwiatkowski surprised himself with his performance. "This is a surprise, actually," Kwiatkowski said. "I was in good shape after the Ardennes but I wasn't sure how I would feel today. I'm really happy with what I did. That was the first time I was sitting in the hot seat for so long. I think a few seconds advantage with such good competition here at Tour de Romandie is something special. I knew the course really well and think I did it perfectly, every moment of the race. I didn't go too fast on the first part. I was trying to save myself for the end. I was on the limit on the finish line. I think I did everything as I was supposed to and…it was good to start earlier, because I knew the weather forecast was going to change."
"It is hard to say what I will do from here in the yellow jersey. I will look day-to-day in how I can defend my GC lead. Today was a short prologue and I don't know how recovered I will truly feel from the Ardennes Classics in the next days. This will be my last race before a period of rest after the first part of the season. But as for the team and our GC chances, Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team came here with good riders. Tony Martin, Thomas De Gendt, and Rigoberto Uran, for example. So, we can see what cards we can play and we are looking forward to the next stages."
In the overall, Kwiatkowski leads Dennis and Kittel by 0:04. Stage 1 will be a rugged, 199-km ride from Ancona to Sion. It will feature the Category 1 Simplonpass and the Category 2 Lens climb, the latter of which crests 19 km from the finish. Who will win? Who will gain time on his rivals? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!