Tejay van Garderen crashes out of GC contention on day one

Michal Kwiatkowski has won the Tour de Romandie prologue to take the first yellow jersey of the race that Chris Froome has entered as defending champion.

Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) finished in six minutes and 22 seconds to beat Australian Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) and quadruple Tour de France stage winner Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) in the 5.57km test, which he started on the back of a full Ardennes Classics campaign.

“This is a surprise, actually,” the 23-year-old 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,” he continued. “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 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.”

It was a bad day for American Tejay van Garderen, who crashed on course and lost something close to three minutes. Van Garderen is set to lead BMC at the Tour de France, and Romandie is traditionally considered a good early litmus test for it.

“The bike got away from me in the first corner coming in a little too hot,” van Garderen said. “I didn’t think I was taking big risks but the corner was a little off camber and I just washed out. I have some pain in my hip and some road rash but there’s nothing broken, or too serious.

“Obviously GC is not an option anymore but we still have some guys here who are motivated for GC,” he continued. “I don’t know, maybe if the legs come around I can try something in one of the harder stages.”

The five-stage race continues tomorrow with a challenging 203km run from Ascona to Sion. It can also serve as a final tune-up for the Giro d’Italia in which Kittel will make his race debut next month.

Kwiatkowski recorded top five performances in all of the Ardennes Classics. He this year has also won the points classification at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco plus Strade Bianche and Volta Algarve title honours. His teammate, time trial world champion Tony Martin, rounded out the top five.

Defending Romandie champion Chris Froome (Sky) – who missed Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday with a chest infection – finished in 13th spot, 10 seconds behind Kwiatkowski.

Tour of Romandie 2014, prologue: Ascona to Ascona
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 6-22-83

2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 4 secs
3. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 4 secs
4. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek at 4 secs
5. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step at 5 secs
6. Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 6 secs
7. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM at 7 secs
8. Jesse Sergent (NZL) Trek at 8 secs
9. Ramunas Navardauskas (Lit) Garmin-Sharp at 9 secs
10. Martijn Keizer (Ned) Belkin at 9 secs
<em>Other</em>
13. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at 10 secs
18. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 12 secs
92. Luke Rowe (GBr) Sky at 27 secs
151. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 3-21

Overall classification after prologue
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickStep

2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 4 secs
3. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 4 secs
4. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek at 4 secs
5. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step at 5 secs
6. Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 6 secs
7. Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM at 7 secs
8. Jesse Sergent (NZL) Trek at 8 secs
9. Ramunas Navardauskas (Lit) Garmin-Sharp at 9 secs
10. Martijn Keizer (Ned) Belkin at 9 secs
Other
13. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at 10 secs

Tony Martin in the Prologue of the 2014 Tour de Romandie

Tony Martin in the Prologue of the 2014 Tour de Romandie

Chris Froome in the Prologue of the 2014 Tour de Romandie

Chris Froome in the Prologue of the 2014 Tour de Romandie

Tejay Van Garderen in the Prologue of the 2014 Tour de Romandie

Tejay Van Garderen in the Prologue of the 2014 Tour de Romandie

Michel Kwiatkowski in the Prologue of the 2014 Tour de Romandie

Michel Kwiatkowski in the Prologue of the 2014 Tour de Romandie

Michel Kwiatkowski wins the Prologue of the 2014 Tour de Romandie

Michel Kwiatkowski wins the Prologue of the 2014 Tour de Romandie