Team Sky's Chris Froome questioned Trek Segafredo's tactics on stage 1 of the Tour de Romandie, calling the American team out for their effort, or lack thereof, in defending Fabio Felline's leader's jersey.
The stage was marked by an early break that established a seven-minute lead over the peloton. The bunch sparked into life at that point with LottoNL Jumbo, Cannondale-Drapac and BMC Racing leading the chase. Until that point, Trek had posted two men on the front of the bunch, in a bid to keep the escapees in check. However, Froome, a two-time winner of the race, questioned their intent as he warmed down after the stage.
"I don't know what Trek-Segafredo were up to today. They seemed to let the break get a lot of time and then weren't really interested in closing it even though they had the leader's jersey,'' Froome told Cyclingnews.
"Well we'll have to see what happens in the next few days then, but it could be tactically quite a tricky race."
Felline finished safely in the front group to keep his leader's jersey and with two more relatively flat stages to come, he could keep the jersey until the weekend. Froome was fifth over the line and competed in the bunch sprint with Michael Albasini taking the top honours.
"I just felt like having a go," Froome said. "I got within sight of the finish line and felt like I had something to give so I thought I'd go for it seeing as it wasn't a typical sprint. Most of the big sprinters had been dropped by that point. Especially if there were to be any time gaps, it's good to be on the front side of those."
Outside the Trek-Segafredo bus, a bemused Dirk Demol admitted that his riders may have played a slight bluff in ensuring that other teams also worked, but he pointed out that two of his men had protected Felline's lead in the opening hours of racing.
"I'm not surprised that Fabio climbed so well. We knew the climb, we came and saw it and we were hopeful of keeping the jersey. In the first 110 kilometres, we were the only team to pull and then came Cannondale and others. They left us there on the front with just two riders for 110 kilometres. We knew that the break would not stay away, even with four or five minutes at the bottom of the second to last climb. We don't have the strongest team, so maybe it was a little bluff but we took our responsibility."
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