Australian Michael Matthews takes his first victory of the season, winning the short opening time trial of the 2018 Tour de Romandie

Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) claimed the victory in the opening prologue time trial of the 2018 Tour de Romandie in Switzerland on Tuesday.

The Australian cruised around the short, twisting 4.02-kilometre route featuring some cobbled roads around Fribourg in a time of five minutes and 33 seconds to take the early race lead.

In a post-race interview, Matthews said that he was unsure of his form after Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where he finished 63rd. However, he put in a perfectly-paced performance to net the victory in Switzerland.

“I gave it my best and it was enough to get the win,” said Matthews.

“It was a really beautiful course. In the recon I thought it was a maybe a little bit sketchy, but it was fine – I had a lot of fun out there today.”

Matthews was the only rider to better early stage leader Tom Bohli (BMC Racing), and then only by a single second.

Pre-stage favourite Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) – fresh from his recent overall victory in the Tour of the Basque Country – came home in third, on the same time as Bohli.



British overall hope Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) has started the race strongly, placing sixth and five seconds adrift of Matthews.

Fellow British rider Alex Dowsett (Katusha-Alpecin) finished second in the equivalent – albeit flatter – stage last year, but this time around was 26th.

Defending champion Richie Porte (BMC Racing) was last man off out of the 133 starters, finishing outside the top 10 in 18th.

One rider who did not make the start line was Trek-Segafredo’s Matthias Brändle, who crashed on the course during his warm-up and broke his collarbone.

The hilly, twisting nature of the course meant that around half of the riders elected to use road bikes rather than time trial bikes. The final climb in particular was the undoing of several riders after such an intense burst of effort.

The 2018 Tour de Romandie continues on Wednesday with stage one, starting in Fribourg and ending in Delémont 166.6km later. It’s a lumpy stage featuring four classified climbs, and one that should suit Matthews.

>>> Tour de Romandie 2018 live TV guide

Result

Tour de Romandie 2018, prologue: Fribourg to Fribourg, 4.02km
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb, in 5-33
2. Tom Bohli (Sui) BMC Racing, at 1 sec
3. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 1 sec
4. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team, at 1 sec
5. Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal, at 5 secs
6. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky, at 5 secs
7. William Clarke (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac, at 6 secs
8. Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky, at 6 secs
9. Pierre Latour (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 6 secs
10. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida, at 9 secs

General classification after prologue
1. Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
2. Tom Bohli (Sui) BMC Racing, at 1 sec
3. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 1 sec
4. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing, at 1 sec
5. Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 5 secs
6. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky, at 5 secs
7. William Clarke (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac, at 6 secs
8. Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky, at 6 secs
9. Pierre Latour (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 6 secs
10. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida, at 9 secs