Kwiatkowski Powers to Prologue Victory at Tour de Romandie
Team Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Michal Kwiatkowski won the 5.57 kilometer Tour de Romandie prologue earlier this afternoon, carrying great form from the Ardennes Classics to take his first UCI WorldTour victory, just two days after contesting a demanding Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Kwiatkowski won with a time of 00:06:22 while teammate, three-time world time trial champion Tony Martin, finished five seconds down in fifth place.
Team Garmin-Sharp-POC's Rohan Dennis finished second, four seconds behind Kwiatkowski. Marcel Kittel (Team Giant-Shimano) placed third (same time).
BMC Racing Team's general classification favorite Tejay van Garderen crashed in the first meters after leaving the start ramp and finished three minutes and 21 seconds down on the winning time, thus practically eliminating all hope of finishing in a top position in the general classification.
Team Sky Pro Cycling's Tour de France champion Chris Froome crossed the finish line 10 seconds down in 13th position, while Team Cannondale's GC hopeful Ivan Basso disappointingly finished in 60th position, 21 seconds behind the stage winner.
Polish national champion Kwiatkowski will wear the yellow race leader jersey with a four second advantage over Dennis going into stage 1 on Wednesday.
"This is a surprise, actually," Kwiatkowski commented after being congratulated by the beautiful Swiss podium girls. "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 rode 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 I think it was good to start early, 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 general classification lead. Today was a short prologue and I don't know how recovered I will truly feel from the Ardennes Classics in the days to follow.
As for the team and our general classification chances, my Omega Pharma - QuickStep 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."
Van Garderen, who crashed, explained he did not sense any danger lurking at the start of the race against the clock that was contested in dry conditions.
"The bike got away from me in the first corner," he said. "I was coming in a little too hot. I didn't think I was taking big risks, but I guess the corner was a little off-camber and I washed out."
Van Garderen explained he had some pain in his hip but felt nothing was broken and planned to continue in the six-day race.
"Obviously, general classification is not an option any more," he explained. "But we still have some good guys here who are motivated for GC. So maybe