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AFP / Yuzuru Sunada
Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski of the Omega Pharma team won the prologue to the Tour of Romandie on Tuesday in the Swiss town of Ascona. Kwiatkowski recorded the quickest time on the short 5.57km course, of 6:22, to beat Rohan Dennis of Australia by two seconds and Germany’s Marcel Kittel by four seconds. Triple world time-trial champion Tony Martin of Germany settled for fifth place, five seconds off the pace, while Italian Giacomo Nizzolo squeezed home in fourth spot. Defending Romandie champion and Tour de France holder Chris Froome of Sky came home 13th, 10 seconds behind Kwiatkowski’s winning time, while overall contender and Giro d’Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali was two seconds slower in 18th.
Kwiatkowski has six victories this season and has been on the podium multiple times at Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, Tirreno-Adriatico, Volta ao Algarve, and the Ardennes Classics.
“This is a surprise, actually,” Kwiatkowski said. “I was in good shape after the Ardennes but I wasn’t sure how I would feel today. I’m really happy with what I did. That was the first time I was sitting in the hot seat for so long. I think a few seconds advantage with such good competition here at Tour de Romandie is something special. I knew the course really well and think I did it perfectly, every moment of the race. I didn’t go too fast on the first part. I was trying to save myself for the end. I was on the limit on the finish line. I think I did everything as I was supposed to and it was also think it was good to start earlier, because I knew the weather forecast was going to change. It is hard to say what I will do from here in the yellow jersey. I will look day-to-day in how I can defend my GC lead. Today was a short prologue and I don’t know how recovered I will truly feel from the Ardennes Classics in the next days. This will be my last race before a period of rest after the first part of the season. But as for the team and our GC chances, Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team came here with good riders. Tony Martin, Thomas De Gendt, and Rigoberto Uran for example. So, we can see what cards we can play and we are looking forward to the next stages.”
The first stage proper is scheduled for Wednesday and a 200.9km run from Ascona to Sion which will feature the snow covered Simplon climb. The six-day race finishes on Sunday with a 18.5km time-trial around Neuchatel.
Tour of Romandie Prologue
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/OPQ) 6:22
2. Rohan Dennis (AUS/GRM) @ :04
3. Marcel Kittel (GER/GIA) @ s.t.
4. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA/RSH) @ s.t.
5. Tony Martin (GER/OPQ) @ :05