Tour de Romandie: Talking points from the prologue
Michal Kwiatkowski winning today's prologue Image from http://www.nieuwsblad.be

Form matters

The past week in the Ardennes was the most important part of Michal Kwiatkowski’s (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) season so far; as a result he arrived in Switzerland in peak physical condition and carrying the form that saw him take his first podium finish in a monument. So there was little surprise to see Kwiatkowski atop the podium after today’s prologue. He has an excellent chance of winning this race; he is fast enough on the line to snatch bonus seconds, and should excel in the ITT on the final stage. His only worry must be that his hectic start to the season will catch up with him in the mountains of the penultimate stage. Similarly, Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) who was 2nd today is targeting the Tour of California which is less than two weeks away, so he is also in great shape right now.

As a rule these short prologues tend to suit sprinters, so any sprinter who has arrived at this race in good shape would have been expected to impress today. With Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing) finishing 3rd and 4th respectively, we know exactly who to look out for over the next three stages. It will be difficult for Nizzolo to compete with Kittel on Thursday and Friday, but tomorrow’s finish comes after a climb which gives the Trek Factory racing team the chance to distance the German. Other fast men to look include Brett Lancaster (Orica GreenEDGE), Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp), Danny van Poppel (Trek) and Anthony Roux (FDJ), all of whom finished in the top 20 today.

Tejay van Garderen is out of luck

It is rare that a prologue completely takes one of the favourites out of contention, yet that is exactly what happened to Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) today. The American crashed early in the race; he was able to continue but finished the stage 3:21 adrift of Kwiatkowski. BMC Medical Officer Dr.Max Testa said that most of the injuries were superficial but “the only concern is the contusion on his right hip. So now we are checking, making sure there is nothing broken." Hopefully van Garderen is given the all clear to continue the race. His GC challenge is over, but this race is an important part of his preparations for the Tour de France in July.

Looking ahead to tomorrow

Stage two will be an arduous day of racing in what seems likely to be unpleasant weather. If the weather is too severe then there may be route alterations, but assuming they aren’t then this is what the riders face.

The peloton has to endure huge climb of the Simplon Pass, but the real action will come with the climb to Lens close to the end of the stage. It’s not a hugely difficult climb, but it should still result in a reduced bunch contesting the sprint at the finish. So expect a sprinter who can climb, such as Nizzolo, to take advantage.

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