Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) took the surprising decision to ride a full TT set up for Friday's 9.9 kilometre mountain time trial at the Tour de Romandie. The European TT champion's choice had little to do with his effort in Switzerland, however, with the Belgian looking to use the race as a testing ground for the Giro d'Italia.
The vast majority of the peloton rode regular road bikes, with a few modifications over wheels and groupsets, but Campenaerts is targeting the opening time trial at the Giro and felt that the extra time on his TT bike could payoff next month.
"I know that on a parcours like this I'm not going to win the TT. I've not done so many mountain time trials before but it doesn't really matter to me, whether I'm 10th or 100th today. It does matter which position I finish in at the time trial in Jerusalem. That's why I wanted to do a half hour effort on the TT bike because that could make the difference between winning and losing in Jerusalem," Campenaerts told Cyclingnews as he zipped up his jacket in preparation for his descent.
The Belgian had been in the break on stage 2 and was instrumental in setting up teammate Thomas de Gendt for the victory. That effort caught up with Campenaerts today.
"I had a plan to go full gas today and try and do 400 watts as an average but yesterday was a hard day with De Gendt on the attack. I started today but after five minutes I knew that I was fucked. From there, I just tried to make it up the climb. My legs were so bad. I can't really say any more."
From here Campenaerts will go home as planned, despite two stages still to race in Romandie. The Lotto Soudal rider is clearly determined to fully focus on the opening stage in the Giro.
"I leave tonight and head to Belgium for my recovery. I want to be fresh for the Giro. I've had a really good race here and had really good sensations in the legs, and I'm looking forward to the Giro."
Campenaerts finished 125th on the stage but was outside the time limit, just shy of nine minutes slower than stage winner Egan Bernal (Team Sky).
Gaviria misses time cut
Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) cut a worried figure when came over the finish line on stage 3. The Colombian completed the 9.9-kilometre course in a time of 33:22 but with far superior climbers still to come, he believed that the time cut could eliminate him from the race with two days of racing still to come.
"That was really tough for me but that's normal. It's been a long time since I've been racing. This race is really hard and there's a lot of climbing. I tried today but maybe I'll be going home. I think someone like Bernal will go nine minutes faster so I might miss the cut. I went as fast as possible but we have to see," he told Cyclingnews.
Gaviria’s prediction came true, with Egan Bernal wining the stage and effectively sending his countryman home. Gaviria missed the spring classics after fracturing a wrist in a fall at Tirreno-Adriatico in March. The Tour de Romandie marks his comeback race, with the Tour of California his next appointment.
"This has been good training and I've gone to my limits. This will be good for the future races. Yesterday I was dropped, came back and was dropped again. I came back but had nothing for the sprint."
Boom targets Tour de France
Lars Boom continued his comeback from heart surgery with a dogged ride at the Tour of Romandie. Last year's Tour of Britain winner returned to racing in March of this year, and despite an understandably slow start, he is beginning to turn a corner. The Dutchman even has one eye on making the LottoNL-Jumbo team for this year's Tour de France.
"This has been a hard race for a guy like me, who is 80 kilos and is more used to the Classics. If I can finish tomorrow's mountain stage then I think my level will improve. Now I feel improvements every day, and things are going much better," he told Cyclingnews.
"Next, I do the race in Norway and if that goes well then the Dauphine and then the Tour. I need to get a good level for that. I really want to win another stage at the Tour and help the team."
Rosskoff targets California TT
Joey Rosskoff (BMC Racing) took a measured approach into Friday's TT, riding within his limit but making sure he made the time cut. The US national time trial champion heads to the Tour of California next month and will be looking to produce a quality result for the San Jose/Morgan Hill stage.
"I rode today with Saturday's stage mountain in mind. The first climb tomorrow is crazy hard and I'll need help to get over that," he told Cyclingnews.
Rosskoff finished the stage in 84th place, 5:29 down on stage winner Egan Bernal (Team Sky) but the Tour of California remains his next major target.
"After this, I go to California and we have a super team for that but our ambition there is to win the GC, and I'd like to target the TT there because it's long and flat."