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Tour de Romandie 2017: Prologue

Just 4.8 kilometres in length, today's short prologue time trial around Aigle will not provoke decisive gaps between the general classification contenders, but should still provide an early indication of form for the week ahead.  Fabien Doubey (Wanty - Groupe Gobert) is the first man down the start ramp at 14.53 CET, and the first tranche of starters also includes one Chris Froome (Sky), who sets out at 15.07. The full start order is here.

Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) is also off early, at 15.02, while Simon Spilak (Katusha-Alpecin) is off just before him. Spilak's teammate Ilnur Zakarin (15.20) is another man eager to be done and dusted with his prologue effort. In the absence of last year's winner Nairo Quintana, meanwhile, Movistar's Alex Dowsett is the last man off. The final starters are as follows:

 

134 Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 17:06:00
135 Youcef Reguigui (Alg) Dimension Data 17:07:00
136 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team 17:08:00
137 Ben Swift (GBr) Team UAE Abu Dhabi 17:09:00
138 Johan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ 17:10:00
139 Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale 17:11:00
140 Jon Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 17:12:00
141 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal 17:13:00
142 Rein Taaramäe (Est) Katusha-Alpecin 17:14:00
143 Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 17:15:00
144 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac 17:16:00
145 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Sunweb 17:17:00
146 Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 17:18:00
147 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Trek-Segafredo 17:19:00
148 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky 17:20:00
149 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-Scott 17:21:00
150 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team 17:22:00
151 Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Quick-Step Floors 17:23:00
152 Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar Team 17:24:00

 

Doubey hit the midway point in 3:29, and the Wanty-Groupe Gobert rider is now approaching the finish. 

 

Doubey completes the prologue in 6:30 to take a very provisional first place...

 

And at that, Pello Bilbao (Astana), the third starter, comes home in 6:17, 13 seconds quicker than Doubey.

 

Rain is falling heavily over Aigle and the downhill final corner could be very treacherous indeed as the afternoon progresses. 

 

Chris Froome (Sky) has just begun his effort. Twice a winner of this race - including his contentious 2014 victory - Froome is looking for his first win of the season, and to make amends for a disappointing Volta a Catalunya.

 

Diego Ulissi (UAE-Team Emirates) has clocked 6:17 to equal Pello Bilbao's time at the finish. 

 

Bilbao, however, was a fraction of a second quicker and retains provisional first place. 

 

It's a slow start from Froome, who is only 13th fastest at the 2.4km mark, 12 seconds behind early pace-setters Christoph Pfingsten (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Primoz Roglic.

 

Roglic has set the new quickest time at the finish. His 6:06 is two seconds quicker than Pfingsten. Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) is third best so far, having clocked 6:13.

 

Chris Froome crosses the line in 6:26, some 20 seconds down on Roglic and good enough only for 11th place thus far.

 

Alex Edmondson (Orica-Scott) had scorched through the midway point in the same time as Roglic and Pfingsten, and the Australian has now reached the finish with the quickest time thus far. His 6:04 is two seconds faster than Roglic's mark.

 

Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) has just begun his effort as rain continues to fall over Aigle.

 

It's been a cautious start from Zakarin, who is already some 20 seconds down at the 2.4km mark.

 

A fine effort from Belgian time trial champion Victor Campenaerts (LottoNL-Jumbo), but he falls just short of Edmondson's leading mark. His 6:05 is good enough for second place thus far.

 

Zakarin, meanwhile, had no desire to take any risks in these conditions, especially with the Giro just ten days away. He comes home in 6:39, some 35 seconds down on Edmondson.

 

Speaking of the Giro, our ten-day countdown begins today with Stephen Farrand's in-depth interview with Vincenzo Nibali, which you can read here. The full, unabridged feature is available in this month's edition of Procycling magazine.

 

 

Richie Porte (BMC) has begun his effort, and it will be fascinating to see if he makes any concessions to the treacherous conditions on the course.

 

Porte came home in 6:30, some 33 seconds off the pace, but word reaching us from out on the course that his teammate Tejay van Garderen has crashed, though the American has been able to remount and continue his prologue effort.

 

In the meantime, Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) has set the new best time. His 5:57 is some seven seconds quicker than Edmondson. A fine ride from the Italian.

 

Despite his crash, Van Garderen has reached the finish just one second slower than Porte. The American's time of 6:31 is 34 seconds down on Felline. Van Garderen throws his helmet to the ground in frustration as he reaches the BMC bus before beginning his warmdown on the rollers.

 

Van Garderen's skinsuit is ripped on his left side and he has some cuts to his leg, but one imagines his participation in the remainder of this Tour de Romandie will not be compromised by that crash.

 

Conditions have improved as the afternoon has progressed, with the rain abating and the roads beginning to dry out slightly. 

 

Tejay van Garderen does not have a very happy relationship with the prologue of the Tour de Romandie. He crashed in the corresponding stage three years ago and lost more than three minutes. On this occasion, he at least has the consolation of keeping his general classification alive.

 

Two of the world's best young time triallists are currently out on the course, with Bob Jungels (Quick-Step) chasing his minute-man Stefan Kung (BMC).

 

Kung comes through the 2.4km mark some 13 seconds down on Felline. Jungels is 10 seconds down on the Italian at the same point.

 

Kung comes home in 6:17, some 20 seconds down on Felline, who is perhaps beginning to feel a little more comfortable in the hot seat.

 

7th best time for Jungels, but his 6:09 is 12 seconds down on Felline. 

 

Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) is in the early stages of his effort. The former world champion shone on a similarly dismal day at Valdobbiadene at the 2015 Giro, but this 4.8km test is perhaps not like enough for Kiryienka's liking.

 

Kiryienka stops the clock in 6:07, good enough for fifth so far, but still all of ten seconds down on the flying Felline.

 

Damien Howson (Orica-Scott) clocked 6:12 for the tenth best time thus far. His teammate Simon Yates, incidentally, earlier put in a fine display to come home in 6:15, just 18 seconds down on Felline.

 

Louis Meintjes (UAE-Team Emirates) limits his losses by coming home in 6:21. Indeed, the South African's time is five seconds quicker than Froome's earlier effort of 6:26.

 

British youngester James Shaw (Lotto Soudal) crosses the line 6:23. The 20-year-old is in his first race since Nokere Koerse last month.

 

Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) was just one second down on Felline at the 2.4km mark, but he comes home on a regular road bike in a time of 6:59. It looks as though the German was a faller out on the course.

 

The on-form David De La Cruz (Quick-Step) reaches the finish in 6:17, 20 seconds down on Felline. It will be interesting to see how the Spaniard performs over the remainder of the week after he impressed at the Tour of the Basque Country.

 

David Gaudu (FDJ) produces a very respectable time of 6:26, 29 seconds down on Felline. There is light rain falling over the finish area once again, and that is good news indeed for Felline, still the only man inside six minutes for the 5.8 kilometres.

 

Just 17 riders are left to start this prologue. Can any of their number better Felline?

 


136 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team 17:08:00
137 Ben Swift (GBr) Team UAE Abu Dhabi 17:09:00
138 Johan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ 17:10:00
139 Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale 17:11:00
140 Jon Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 17:12:00
141 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal 17:13:00
142 Rein Taaramäe (Est) Katusha-Alpecin 17:14:00
143 Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 17:15:00
144 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac 17:16:00
145 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Sunweb 17:17:00
146 Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 17:18:00
147 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Trek-Segafredo 17:19:00
148 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky 17:20:00
149 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-Scott 17:21:00
150 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team 17:22:00
151 Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Quick-Step Floors 17:23:00
152 Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar Team 17:24:00

 

A sparkling performance from Max Schachmann (Quick-Step), who comes home with the third best time to date. His 6:05 is 8 seconds down on Felline.

 

Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) rolls down the start ramp to begin his effort. He sets out aware that the bulk of the GC contenders who preceded him have clocked rather underwhelming times - hardly a surprise, considering the conditions.

 

Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) rolls down the start ramp and begins his effort. Izagirre, meanwhile, was 6 seconds down on Felline at the 2.4km mark. Warren Barguil (Sunweb) waits in the start house to begin his time trial.

 

Ion Izagirre can't get close to Felline at the finish, but 11th place in a time of 6:09 sets him up as the best of the GC contenders thus far.

 

Uran is already 17 seconds down on Felline at the 2.4km mark. Barguil goes through the same point 15 seconds off the pace.

 

Michael Albasini (Orica-Scott) sets off to generous applause from the crowds near the start house. The Swiss rider is far less cautious through the opening corners than Uran, Froome et al.

 

Uran comes home in 6:27, 30 seconds down on Felline. Barguil finishes in 6:22, 25 seconds off the Italian.

 

Alex Dowsett (Movistar), the last man off, begins his time trial. "I’ve been alright for the short time trial so we’ll see how it goes. It looks technical on paper but we’ll have a look and then give it a good nudge," Dowsett told Cyclingnews before his start. The Briton is vying for a place on Movistar's Giro team. "It won’t hurt my chances and it will show that I’m in good shape. The eight riders who go to the Giro will be there to support Nairo, and they’ll have only that goal in mind. every time I’ve been asked to do a job this year I’ve done it well. I feel like I’ve been consistently solid this year and if I’m not picked for the Giro I’ll be pretty disappointed."

 

Albasini was 7 seconds down on Felline at the 2.4km mark, and he'll surely struggle to peg that back over the second part of the course.

 

Albasini makes his way gingerly through the final corners and comes home some way off Felline. His time of 6:24 is only good enough for 52nd place thus far.

 

Dowsett has begun very strongly and he reaches the 2.4km mark with the second best time, mere fractions of a second behind Felline...

 

Nicolas Roche (BMC) comes home in 6:14, while Remi Cavaga (Quick-Step) crosses the line in 6:19. Only Dowsett can deny Felline...

 

Dowsett comes close to overshooting the final bend and that appears to have cost him. The Briton comes across the line in 5:59. He is only the second man to break six minutes, but he has to settle for second place on the stage, two seconds behind Felline.

 

Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) wins the prologue of the Tour de Romandie.

 

Result:


1 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 00:05:57
2 Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar 00:00:02
3 Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Orica-Scott 00:00:07
4 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:08
5 Victor Campenaerts (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo
6 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo 00:00:09
7 Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky 00:00:10
8 Tom Bohil (Swi) BMC Racing Team
9 Johan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ 00:00:11
10 Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
 

 

 

Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) signalled his intentions with 12th place, 12 seconds down. Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) was 25th at 18 seconds. Chris Froome (Sky) could only manage 78th at 29 seconds, while Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen lost 33 and 34 seconds, respectively. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) was a lowly 133rd, 42 seconds off Felline.

 

Alex Dowsett reckons that over-cooked final corner may well have cost him the stage win: "It was good until the last corner. I went in a bit too quick and a bit too early. I had to jump on the breaks 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. 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."

 

Before mounting the podium, Fabio Felline said that the late Michele Scarponi was in his thoughts. Scarponi's funeral took place in Filottrano this afternoon. “I had good feelings but I would never have imagined I’d win, even after I’d gone through without making any mistakes,” Felline said. “This victory is for me and the team, and also for Scarponi. Another friend of mine, Oscar, died last week, so this is special and I’d like to dedicate this victory to them.”

 

Result:

 

1 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:05:57
2 Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar Team 0:00:02
3 Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Orica-Scott 0:00:07
4 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:08
5 Victor Campenaerts (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:08
6 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:09
7 Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky 0:00:10
8 Tom Bohli (Swi) BMC Racing 0:00:10
9 Johan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ 0:00:11
10 Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:11

 

Thanks for following our live coverage of the prologue of the Tour de Romandie on Cyclingnews. A full report, results and pictures will follow here, and we'll have all the news and reaction from Aigle in due course. We'll also be back with more live coverage from stage 1 tomorrow.

 

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