Hello there and welcome along for the grand finale of the Tour de Romandie. We have a 16.19km individual time trial in Fribourg to decide the final destination of the leader's yellow jersey.
Shock horror, it's not raining today.
H-2 : Chrono final Fribourg Qui voyez-vous s'imposer aujourd'hui ?#TDR2021 #TDRnonstop #pournepasenperdreuneseconde pic.twitter.com/t9xXT3BpmiMay 2, 2021
We're almost ready to go. Claudio Imhof (Swiss national team) is the first rider off the start ramp at 12:17 local time, so in just a few minutes.
Riders will take on the course in reverse order of the general classification, setting off at one-minute intervals up to the top-20, who'll be separated by two minutes. Overall leader Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) is the last rider down the ramp at 14:40.
Imhof is off. The final stage of the Tour de Romandie is underway.
There aren't many time trial specialists among the early starters. We'll likely have to wait for Stefan Bissegger (EF-Nippo) at 12:50 for our first true benchmark, and four-time TT world champ Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma) sets off just after the rising Swiss star. Other candidates include current world champion Filippo Ganna and his predecessor and Ineos Grenadiers teammate Rohan Dennis, European champion Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ), and French champion Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-QuickStep).
Otherwise, the main interest in today's stage is the battle for the overall title, with the GC contenders setting off at the top of the bill.
Woods leads the race but Thomas, in second place at 11 seconds, will be the favourite. Even Woods has given himself little hope of staying in yellow, while third-placed Ben O'Connor will surely be looking to hang onto the podium.
Thomas, second on the opening prologue, could also be in the mix for the stage win, especially with the incentive of going for GC, and Ineos also have Richie Porte, third in that prologue, in fourth overall at 36 seconds - just three seconds behind Marc Soler (Movistar) on GC.
Anyway, that's your preamble. To really get your bearings, here's what happened yesterday. It was insane.
Max Richeze (UAE Team Emirates) is a non-starter today.
A little more about the course. It's an undulating affair, starting out with a downhill section before a short cobbled climb. It's a more rolling affair before the road drags up to the intermediate sprint just past the half-way mark. After a steadier couple of kilometres, the road heads downhill for 3km before another kick up to the line in Fribourg. There are a couple of tight bends at the start but it's not an overly technical course.
And a little more about 'that' incident yesterday. Thomas said he felt like a 'whopper' which will have had the local reporters scrambling for their dictionaries. Here's his full reaction.
Nice recon of the #TDR2021 ITT earlier today.We are now ready for our last World Tour outing before the Giro d'Italia.Photo: @billy_lebelge pic.twitter.com/ruY88SiVMOMay 2, 2021
Imhof was the first finisher but his time has been significantly bettered by Cofidis' Tom Bohli, who takes the early hotseat with a 23:14.
Ian Garrison, Deceuninck-QuickStep's 23-year-old American, goes five seconds quicker than Bohli.
Stefan Bissegger (EF-Nippo) does indeed give us that benchmark. He clocks 22 minutes to blow Garrison's time out of the water by some 54 seconds.
Ganna is out on course now as well.
Ganna is 12 seconds down on Bissegger at the checkpoint.
Ganna reaches the finish and stops the clock on 22:31. Bissegger has beaten him by half a minute. Wow.
Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) has the third best time but that's 49 seconds slower than Bissegger.
Cavagna is out on course now, which should give a further indication of how good Bissegger's time is.
Andrey Amador (Ineos) goes a few seconds quicker than Tratnik to move into provisional third.
Cavagna fastest at the checkpoint!
He's 17 seconds up on Bissegger.
The Frenchman started strong in the prologue but faded on the late climb. Can he hold this all the way?
This was Bissegger on that early cobbled climb.
Cavagna into the hotseat!
The Frenchman is the first to break the 22-min barrier with a 21:54.
Cavagna did fade. He was 17 seconds up half-way through, and had just five of those seconds left by the finish line. Still, he's in the lead and that means he paced it right. Dennis, Kung, Thomas, and Porte all to come, but the French champion has put himself in with a great shout of a first win this season.
We've started to get a bit of rain now.
Kung has set the third fastest time at the checkpoint, some 22 seconds down on Cavagna's benchmark.
Marc Hirschi (UAE) crosses the line 1:35 down on Cavagna. He dropped well down the GC yesterday.
The rain is really belting down now, especially on the first part of the course.
Kung is into the final part of the course, where the roads are much drier.
Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) has the fourth best time at the intermediate. That follows an equally encouraging prologue performance. Has the Colombian suddenly become a time triallist?
Kung is already well outside the time of Cavagna.
Kung stops the clock on 22:45 - that's 50 seconds down on Cavagna in the end and only good enough for fifth place. He had to deal with the rain but that's still a big deficit.
Rohan Dennis (Ineos) rolls down the ramp. He won the opening prologue and before that a TT at the Volta a Catalunya. He appears well and truly back to his time trialling best and will be considered the favourite for today's stage. A nervy 20 minutes await Cavagna.
This rain is so confusing. The first section with the cobbled climb appears dry, as do the final couple of kilometres, albeit slightly damp. But somewhere in the middle it's absolutely chucking it down.
Antonio Tiberi (Trek-Segafredo) comes to the line and it's another impressive display from Italian, who's only 19! He clocks 22:43 - that's fourth fastest so far.
Dennis has made a relatively dry start but is now moving onto wetter tarmac.
And now he hits soaking wet roads just shy of the intermediate checkpoint. It was pelting down just before and it seems it's stopped falling so heavily, even if it is still went under tyre.
Dennis comes to the checkpoint, and he's slower than Cavagna by four seconds.
Dennis right in the mix here. Cavagna did fade in comparison with Bissegger on the second part of the course - how has Dennis paced this?
Almost time for our top 10. This is how things stand on GC ahead of the pivotal next half an hour or so.
1 Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-up Nation 17:37:35
2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:11
3 Ben O'Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team 0:00:21
4 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:33
5 Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:36
6 Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:45
7 Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech 0:00:48
8 Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange 0:00:49
9 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 0:01:04
10 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:58
Ilan Van Wilder (DSM) is another young rider doing big things. He had a great prologue and indeed has had a great week, and he's third fastest so far at the checkpoint.
Magnus Cort (EF-Nippo) goes into the provisional top 10. He's wearing the red combativity dossard after his exploits yesterday and that's quite a ride considering how deep he went and how he exploded on that final climb.
Kelderman is away, and now Caruso.
Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) comes to the line. He's had a disappointing season so far and it doesn't get much better here. He's 29th fastest so far, 90 seconds down on Cavagna's time.
Here comes Dennis. He has lost time here
He has lost a heap of time. The Australian stops the clock on 22:29 - some 35 seconds down on Cavagna.
Dennis lost half a minute to Cavanga in the final 8km there.
Richie Porte is off. He could well end up on the final podium today. Ineos 1-2?
And now Marc Soler (Movistar) sets off. He has just three seconds over Porte, which is a huge ask.
Van Wilder comes to the finish and it's good...
22:12 for Van Wilder. That's faster than Dennis and Ganna.
Another huge time! Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck-QuickStep) posts 22:23 to also go above the Ineos duo.
O'Connor is off now.
And now for Thomas. He needs to make up 11 seconds on Woods, which is very do-able. However, this is a tough course, with wet roads at the midpoint.
And now time for our final rider, the overall leader Woods. Decked out in a fluoro yellow skinsuit, he rolls down the ramp and gets going.
Here's what a pessimistic Woods had to say about the TT yesterday.
"It’s not enough time for me. Those guys can roll the time trials so well, and so I’m just going to enjoy being in the jersey now. It’s a good time trial for those guys, and so it will be hard for me to hold onto the jersey."
Thomas hits the cobbled climb and delivers the power from a seated position.
23:56 for Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma).
The top young rider Thymen Arensman (DSM) finishes 1:13 down on Cavagna's time.
Masnada reaches the intermediate and this is a good ride. He's nine seconds down there, with the fourth fastest time so far.
Here comes Kelderman, with the longest line of drool I've ever seen flinging from his mouth. 22:44 for the Dutchman.
Porte comes to the checkpoint and he's on a good ride. It's 13:54. That's six seconds down on Cavagna. It's also slower than Dennis, who went on to lose a lot of time in the sec