Cavendish heads speedy youngsters in Romandie

Mark Cavendish, 22, takes the first leader's jersey of the 2008 Tour de Romandie

Mark Cavendish, 22, takes the first leader's jersey of the 2008 Tour de Romandie (Image credit: AFP)

By Susan Westemeyer

Team High Road youngster Mark Cavendish added to his list of wins this season by being the fastest around the 1.9 kilometre prologue course in the Tour de Romandie Tuesday evening.

"It was the perfect distance for me; if it had been longer it would have been more Bradley's type of time trial," Cavendish said on the team's website, His team-mate Bradley Wiggins finished fifth.

"I went all out from the start, when it's that short there wasn't much point in doing anything else, with it being hardly two kilometres it's just like a sprint. I was just hoping I could maintain that speed all the way through right to the end. The wind was very strong on the return part. Like a wall."

The 22 year-old Manxman saw the win as proof that he was ready for the upcoming Giro d'Italia. "I'm very pleased with this result. I know I've got good form and it's a good sign for the races I've got coming up like the Tour of Italy."

High Road Directeur Sportif Tristan Hoffman noted, "We didn't bother using references to other riders' times during the prologue because it was such a short distance. It was just a question of going as fast as possible and seeing what happened. The course was perfect for Mark – urban, flat and not too technical, just a few minor corners so he could use all his power. The weather was ideal for the top guys as well – warm and dry."

Defending Tour de Romandie champion, 23 year-old Thomas Dekker, finished ninth, two seconds down and was thereby the best of the overall favourites. On, team director Erik Dekker said, "This was really for the specialists. The true time-trial riders that usually win the longer time trials are not made for this type of work. The fact that Cavendish is the quickest one here, says everything. But, it is still a time trial. Thomas has given every bit of his energy. He has done a good job. All final candidates are within five seconds of one another. Hence, little has been decided yet, but it still better to be ahead than to be behind. I am also under the impression that he is in a good position."

Another favourite, 32 year-old Andreas Klöden of Team Astana, finished 21st, only three seconds down. Astana spokesman Philippe Maertens told Cyclingnews that Directeur Sportif Alain Gallopin watched Klöden in the Tour of Turkey, "and told me there already that Andreas was very good in Turkey. Just preparing, not in the frontline, but he should be ready for Romandie. Of course he will be our leader there. The race with TT and mountains is perfect for him."

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