Marco Pinotti won the opening prologue of the 2010 Tour of Romandie in Switzerland on Tuesday.
The Italian HTC-Columbia rider set the unbeatable time of five minutes and 17 seconds over the 4.3 kilometre course in Porrentruy.
Young Slovakian talent Peter Sagan (Liquigas) scooped second place, one second adrift of Pinotti, with Frenchman Jeremy Roy (Francaise des Jeux) in third. Double Paris-Nice stage winner Sagan now looks to be the big threat to snatch the overall lead from Pinotti.
Britain’s Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) won the Romandie prologue in 2008, and although he couldn’t match his performance from two years ago, the Manx sprint ace put in another strong ride to place 18th, just nine seconds behind team-mate Pinotti.
Team Sky Briton Chris Froome was less fortunate, he crashed heavily on his way into the finish and his participation in tomorrow’s opening road stage has been thrown into doubt. Froome is one of Sky’s key Giro d’Italia riders, and a serious injury at this stage would be a blow to the British team.
The six-day ProTour-ranked Tour de Romandie concludes on Sunday, May 2.
Tour de Romandie 2010: Prologue
1. Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Columbia 4.3km in 5-17
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo at 1sec
3. Jeremy Roy (Fra) Francaise des Jeux at 4secs
4. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia
5. Rick Flens (Ned) Rabobank at 5secs
6. Christophe Moreau (Fra) Caisse d’Epargne at 6secs
7. Gregory Henderson (NZl) Team Sky at 6secs
8. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo at 7secs
9. Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 7secs
10. Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) RadioShack at 7secs
18. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Columbia at 9secs
Mark Cavendish came home in 18th place
Chris Froome crashes on the final bend. He got up and finished the stage, but his continued participation has been thrown into doubt