Team Sky leader Chris Froome puts in cautious ride during the wet opening prologue of the Tour de Romandie to place 78th

Chris Froome has said that it may be “hard to make up” the time he lost to some of his rivals in the Tour de Romandie prologue on Tuesday.

The British Team Sky leader finished in 78th place after the short and technical 4.8-kilometre prologue in the race that is serving as a key build-up event to his Tour de France defence in July. He finished 29 seconds down on winner Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo).

“It was really sketchy out there,” Froome said of the wet road conditions on the course around Aigle in Switzerland. “The main thing for me today was to just stay upright. It’s not worth coming off on one of these corners at this point in the season.”

>>> Fabio Felline conquers rain-soaked Tour de Romandie prologue; Dowsett second

Although several of the other general classification contenders posted similar times to Froome – BMC’s Richie Porte placed 108th – there are others that now go into Wednesday’s climbing stage from Aigle to Champéry with a handy advantage.

“I’m a good 20 seconds back, most notably on [Primoz] Roglic at the moment, so that’s going to be hard to make up,” said Froome.

“But let’s see. We’ve got a week of racing ahead of us. Romandie is one of the key races in my build up to the Tour and hopefully I’ll be able to go away with a solid week of racing in my legs by the end.”

Froome will not have to wait long for an opportunity to regain time – the long ascent to the line Champéry will allow the climbers to stretch their legs.

Froome’s cautious approach on the corner-strewn prologue course appears to have been a sensible tactic. American Tejay van Garderen (BMC) crashed on the third corner, lost time and picked up injuries, which may affect the rest of the race for him and his team.

>>> ‘It’s all about taking risks…sometimes you can pay’: Tejay van Garderen set to continue Romandie after prologue crash

Froome himself has also previously fallen foul of crashing during the Romandie prologue. Back in 2010, in Sky’s first year, Froome crashed on a corner in a similar length prologue held in Porrentruy.

Although he remounted and finished second from last, he abandoned the race to focus on recovering prior to that year’s Giro d’Italia.