Roglic lays down Tour de Romandie marker with prologue performance

Chris Froome (Team Sky) was one of first high-profile riders to suggest that this year's Tour de Romandie could provide a different sort of winner, and the opening prologue in Aigle on Tuesday provided evidence to substantiate the Tour de France winner's theory.

Step forward Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), a rider who was virtually unheard of two years ago but has already built a reputation as a reliable one-week stage racer.

The Slovenian came into this year's Tour de Romandie with little hype around his name, but a win in the Vuelta ao Algarve and top-fives in both Tirreno-Adriatico and Pais Vasco have highlighted his continued progress.

On a 4.8-kilometre course through the UCI heartlands in Aigle, Roglic was the best of the potential GC contenders, finishing in sixth, six seconds down on stage winner Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo). However, he put 23 seconds into Richie Porte (BMC Racing), 20 into Froome and 33 into Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin). Of the other GC contenders, only Jon Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida) and Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) were able to finish within a handful of seconds of the LottoNL-Jumbo rider.

"I've done my job because I've gone as fast as I possibly could. I have some vital seconds and every one of those count. It's going to be a fight each and every day from now on," Roglic told Cyclingnews after his ride in the wet conditions.

"I didn't really take any risks. I actually slipped straight after the starting gate and almost came down on my knee. My back wheel went a little. It was just a little slip, but I was careful."

Froome later told Cyclingnews that his only plan was to make it through the prologue unscathed, and with Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) coming down on a slick corner, the Sky rider's plan was probably a wise one. That said, Roglic has already put time into several rivals, and the tougher stages in this year's race lack the truly mountainous terrain from previous editions. Froome almost considered not racing Romandie due to the parcours.

"For sure you don't win the GC today, but like I've said, every second is going to count and you can lose time very quickly here," Roglic added as he made his way to his team bus. "I tried to stay on two wheels and just push on the parts of the course that I could."

The final time trial in Lausanne is likely to decide this year's race, and Roglic will be a marked man from now until that stage. That said, he has an experienced team around him with Robert Gesink and Jurgen Van Den Broeck to shepherd him through the coming days.

"I'm confident that we have a good team, and we're going to fight everyday."

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