Ion Izagirre's good start to the season continued in the Tour de Romandie prologue with the Movistar rider posting the best time on the snow affected course, beating both the prologue specialists and GC men. The 27-year-old was fourth at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, second at Volta ao Algarve and fifth at Paris-Nice before taking out the GP Miguel Indurain.
A bout of gastronenteritis ruled him out of Pais Vasco before bouncing back and riding the Ardennes Classics with 30th at Liege-Bastogne-Liege a sign he was returning to form.
"I knew my condition was still great after the classics and this result is a happy confirmation of that. We checked the course at noon today and I really liked it, with that short, sharp climb followed by the technical descent, through the small houses before the finish. It all turned out well and we're so happy to get this win," Izagirre said.
Izagirre was the 135th rider to start the 3.95km La Chaux-de-Fonds course and having crossed the line in a time of 5:33 minutes, didn't have too long a wait in the hot seat with Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) the closest challenger a few minutes later, six seconds in arrears.
Unsure which bike would be best for the course, Ion Izagirre explained the decision by brother Gorka to use the TT bike, who was fifth, helped him win his first race against the clock in four years.
"I was doubtful about which bike should I bring into this course, the road race one or the TT one - but I saw Gorka doing great on the Speedmax and I took a last-minute change, when I was already set to start with the traditional one. To be honest, my brother played a big part in this victory, with those good time checks - he was fantastic," he added.
Movistar's GC leader, Nairo Quintana and Andrey Amador both finished top-20 to ensure the team has four well placed riders with Izagirre explaining the aim now is to to hold onto the leader's jersey
"Now it's time to enjoy this victory; we don't know how the week will go. We've got a strong team, with Nairo always on good form, Andrey testing his legs before the Giro... Let's hope we can keep this jersey!," said Izagirre who also leads the green points jersey classification.
Stage 1 is a lumpy 166.9km affair from from La Chaux-de-Fonds to Moudon but with a finish expected to suit the sprinters.
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