Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tour de Romandie: Froome Powers to Prologue Win

April 23, Prologue: Le Châble - Bruson (ITT) 7km
By: Daniel Benson
Sky rider becomes first race leader

Chris Froome (Team Sky) won the opening 7.45km kilometre prologue at the Tour de Romandie, edging out Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) in a winning time of 13:15. Talansky finished six seconds down with Robert Kiserlovski (RadioShack-Leopard) 13 seconds back in third. Froome will wear the first leader's jersey of the race for stage 1.

World time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) could only manage 16th, 29 seconds down on Froome.

Froome started the prologue last due to the fact that his Sky teammate Bradley Wiggins (absent this year) triumphed in last year's race and the Kenyan-born rider quickly set about dismantling the field on the uphill course situated in the foothills of Verbier. While unsure of his condition prior to today's prologue, Froome stamped his authority on the opening day with the first time trial victory of his career.

"I haven't raced now in a stage race for a month since Criterium International," said Froome. "I wasn't sure how my condition would be coming into this race. Winning the prologue today is definitely a good sign and I'd like to try and defend the jersey this week the best I can. I know it's going to be a very hard week of racing."

Sky has multiple options to play during the week, with Paris-Nice champion Richie Porte in fourth overall at 15 seconds.

"We have a really good team here," said Froome. "Richie who came fourth today is also sitting in a very good position. That could be really important for us over the next few days as it means we have some other cards to play with the rest of the riders here to support us. It should be a good week of racing.

"We're going to try and keep [the jersey]. I don't have a really big advantage on the other GC contenders here. I think the big stages will be this coming weekend. On Saturday we have a really hard mountain stage followed by a time trial on Sunday. So we have to do as much as we can there and hope that nothing bad turns against us in the race."

France's Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) had held the initial lead after setting a time of 13:32 but with so many Grand Tour contenders in the field it was always going to be a huge ask for the talented 22-year-old to keep the likes of Froome and Talansky at bay.

However, having finished 11th overall last year, Pinot laid down an indication of his growing stature in the sport to eventually finish 6th.

Both Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and his teammate Tom Danielson failed to topple the Frenchman, with Hesjedal struggling to find his momentum on the lower slopes of the climb to Bruson. He wasn't the only rider to struggle, though, with Robert Gesink, Lieuwe Westra and Jurgen Van Den Broeck also failing to make genuine impressions.

Pinot was eventually knocked off the top step when Rui Costa (Movistar) finished one second faster but it was Paris-Nice winner Richie Porte (Team Sky) who set down the next marker with 13:30.

Andrew Talansky, who finished runner-up to Porte at Paris-Nice, claimed a morale-boosting scalp when he finished 9 precious seconds faster than the Australian but Froome was already on the move, making Daniel Moreno look like a statue when he swooped past the Katusha leader.

Tony Martin, who unclipped his pedal soon after the start ramp, crossed the line in 16th but with 500 meters remaining Froome was six seconds clear of Talansky.

The 27-year-old had enough in the tank to seal the win, and the first prologue of his career.

Kiserlovski, who is expected to lead RadioShack Leopard at this year's Giro d'Italia, edged out Porte for third.

Article Source: Cycling News 

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