By Susan Westemeyer
In stage 1 of today's Tour de Romandie, Astana successfully defended the Paolo Savodelli's leader's jersey.
"The team's tactics were, of course, to control the race, and that it was what we did," said Savodelli. "Eddy Mazzoleni did most of the work on the climbs. In the last 3 km, Kacheshkin took over. I was very cold. We are very happy to have kept this jersey."
Savoldelli finished comfortably in the front group in 17th place finish while Markus Fothen handed Gerolsteiner another ProTour win by escaping late in the race with Caisse d'Epargne's Francisco Perez, and then out-sprinting his companion to take the stage. A chasing peloton, with 80 riders, weakened by four categorized climbs could not close the gap in time to overtake the duo, but did catch up just in time to get the same time for the day.
Savoldelli's Astana teammates kept the gaps of various break members in check before other teams contributed to chasing. The charging peloton was often led by the turquoise Astana train, with even Savoldelli's yellow leader's jersey covered by a turquoise vest in the cool temperatures.
Thursday's stage two has the usual innumerable ups and downs, but has only two ranked climbs, one each Cat. 1 and Cat. 3. It runs 166.9 km from La Chaux-de-Fonds - Lucens.
For complete coverage of Stage 1, click here.