By Susan Westemeyer
A new overall leader emerged Sunday under bright and sunny skies during the final stage of the Tour of Romandie, a 20.4 kilometre individual time trial in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Twenty-two year-old Thomas Dekker of Rabobank powered his way to a win and to the top of the general classification when he finished ahead of Paolo Savoldelli and Andrey Kashechkin, both of Astana.
It was the second consecutive year that the winner of the finishing time trial moved up into first place to take the victory overall. Last year's winner Cadel Evans finished fourth this year in both the stage and the GC.
Chris Horner (Predictor Lotto) led going into the final stage, but he slipped to fifth place after finishing seventh, 55 seconds behind Dekker. When interviewed Saturday, Horner expressed doubt that he could keep the lead and said: "I'm not a time trial specialist."
On the other hand, Dekker noted: "Time trialing is my specialty and actually I was sixth in the same stage two years ago." He was the Dutch time trial champion in 2004 and 2005.
"I expected to be on the podium, but not necessarily to win. I did not know I was so strong at that stage of the season. It's pretty big for me to beat big champions like Savoldelli and Kashechkin today. Now I'll have time to celebrate a little prior my next race in a month," the young Dekker said. He was the first Dutchman to win the race since 1988.
Dekker is ready for a break from competition after a full spring schedule. He will return to racing action in the Tour de Suisse in preparation for the Tour de France, where he has his eye on the young rider's white jersey.
For complete coverage of Stage 5, click here.