Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) crossed the line with the third best time in Tour of Romandie prologue to complete a clean sweep for his team. Rohan Dennis was fastest over the 4.1 kilometre course with a time of 5:26, while Geraint Thomas finished nine seconds down and Porte was less than a second further back.
Dennis leads the race heading into stage 1 while several of Ineos’ GC rivals lost time over the course thanks to the steep uphill finish. Porte, who won the Swiss stage race back in 2017 and has returned to the Ineos team after five years on rival squads, sits third overall. Fellow Ineos rider and world time trial champion Filippo Ganna finished ninth on the stage, 15 seconds down on Dennis.
“To come back here and be first, second and third, and have Ganna in the top ten as well was a great day for the team,” Porte said after his prologue effort.
Ineos have brought a stacked squad to the Tour of Romandie with former Tour de France winner Thomas joined by Dennis, Porte, Andrey Amador, Eddie Dunbar, Ganna and Owain Doull. Several members of the Romandie team will compete in the Tour de France later this year and are using the six-day stage race to fine-tune their form as well as mount a GC challenge at the WorldTour event. The race concludes with a 16.2 kilometre time trial in Fribourg at the weekend but the mountains will soon beckon with nine categorised climbs set to feature on stage 1, which starts in Aigle – the home of the UCI.
“Everyone is motivated, and this is the Tour stream, so most of the guys here will do the Tour de France. It’s just nice to come and perform on a day like today,” Porte said.
The defining factor on the first day of racing was ultimately the 880 metre climb to the line with the Route de Bulle holding an average gradient of 7.6 per cent. Many of the purer time trialists suffered on the uphill section but the result puts Porte and his teammates in the driving seat.
“It was only 800 meters but it was a pretty tough 800 meters so I think maybe it didn’t favour some of the bigger guys but it was the decisive factor on that course and it showed that we’re in a good place with the top three guys up there. I think it’s going to be an exciting race this week,” the Australian said.
Porte’s first outing in Ineos colours this year ended in disappointment with the 36-year-old crashing out of Paris-Nice on stage 1. He returned to action in the Volta a Catalunya where he finished second overall and Ineos occupied the complete podium with Adam Yates claiming the overall, Porte finishing second and Thomas finishing third.
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