Alex Dowsett (Movistar Team) missed out on victory in a rainy Tour de Romandie prologue by just two seconds, with the honours going to surprise winner Fabio Felline (Trek Segafredo). However, until the final 250 meters the British time trial champion was within a whisker of the best time. He crossed the line in a time of 5:59 to take second place in the 4.8km race opener.
Dowsett (Movistar Team) thought that the stars had aligned when the weather began to clear up during the stage. The British time trial champion – the last of the 152 starters – had seen a number of rivals, including Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Richie Porte (BMC Racing) navigate the technical 4.8km course with their fingers on the brakes, and with drier roads it looked as though a win could be on the cards.
However, when the rain returned and Fabio Felline (Trek Segafredo) pulled out the time trial of his life Dowsett was left with second place as his consolation. As he warmed down in the rain, surrounded by the silent Movistar mechanics and just the sound of the rain falling on the Movistar bus for company, Felline was soaking up the applause on the podium.
"It was good until the last corner," Dowsett told Cyclingnews as he flicked through his power data display during his warm-down.
"I went in a bit too quick and a bit too early. I had to jump on the brakes mid-corner. In the Commonwealth Games, I think I won it on the last corner and today it's what cost me. Two seconds to a sprinter in the last 250m… if I'd carried just a bit more speed I could have been there or thereabouts. You have to throw a bit of caution to the wind and I'm sure that everyone will come out of today thinking that they could have found a bit more speed on one corner, and I had mine."
Felline's impressive time caught everyone by surprise and even though he benefited from drier conditions than some, this performance has come after a spring campaign in which he has been a constant presence in major races. He held the thinnest of margins over Dowsett at the halfway time check, and the Movistar rider was unable to pull himself back on terms during the second half of the course.
"Still, on the positive, I put away a few prologue specialists and time trial guys. Anything less than 6km and you have to think about the sprinters so hats off to Felline."
While the weather was undoubtedly a factor in the day's racing Dowsett shrugged his shoulders at the idea that the conditions had been the only factor in proceedings. If the roads had continued to dry out, who knows if the result would have been the difference.
"It was looking really good and I texted my dad about 90 minutes before my start telling him it was clearing up. Then ten minutes it started coming down. I had a drier run than some of the early guys but Tour de Suisse last year I had a bone dry run while some of the other GC guys had rain."
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