Team Columbia-highroad took back control of the Tour de Romandie on Friday, winning the hilly 14.8km team time trial around Yverdon-les-Bains.
Columbia set a time of 18-37, beating Caisse d?Epargne by ten seconds and Saxo Bank by 16 seconds.
Thank to their win, Frantisek Rabon took back the overall race lead after he won the opening prologue time trial on Tuesday. Former race leader Gregory Rast (Astana) lost more than a minute after Astana fell apart during the stage.
The Fuji-Servetto team also had a nightmare ride, costing Riccardo Serrano a place in the top three. Lars Bak (Saxo Bank) is now second overall at one second and Rabon?s Columbia team mate Tony Martin is third overall at 8 seconds.
The Columbia team included national time trial champions: Rabon of the Czech Republic, Marco Pinotti of Italy and Martin of Germany. Columbia finished with six riders after a near perfect and intelligent ride on the hilly course.
They started steady and rode hard on the climb but shared the work and ride a single file strategy. Columbia was just one second faster than Caisse d?Epargne at the top of the climb after 6.9km but then hammered down the fast descent to win by ten seconds.
Britain?s Mark Cavendish lost contact near the summit as the road climbed constantly through the fields. He left his team mates with a strong shout of encouragement and then rode in, saving his legs for Sunday?s final stage where he has a great chance of winning the sprint.
COLUMBIA SENDS OUT WARNING BEFORE GIRO TTT
Columbia?s victory sent out a warning to the other teams for next Saturday?s important opening TTT at the Giro d?Italia. They showed they have the speed, power and race tactics to win team time trials.
?I was strong in the prologue but today the whole team was strong,? Rabon said before pulling on the yellow jersey.
?We did a perfect job and was clearly the strongest. It was a hard TT because the course climbed up in quite a few places and the descent was technical as well. We had to really pace our ride.?
Rabon is not known as a climber but promised to try and defend the lead during the hilly fourth stage from Estavayer-le-lac ? Sainte-Croix.
?The most important thing was to win the team time trial and its great to have the leader?s back again. We?ll try and defend it and we?ll see what happens.?
TOUR DE ROMANDIE 2009: STAGE 3 TTT RESULTS
1. Columbia-Highroad 14.8km in 18-37
2. Caisse d’Epargne at 10secs
3. Saxo Bank at 16secs
4. Liquigas at 24secs
5. Silence-Lotto at 25secs
6. Cervelo Test Team at same time
7. Katusha at same time
8. Astana at 34secs
9. Francaise des Jeux at 38secs
10. Rabobank at 39secs
OVERALL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE THREE
1. Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Columbia-Highroad in 6-38-17
2. Lars Bak (Den) Saxo Bank at 1sec
3. Tony Martin (Ger) Columbia-Highroad at 8secs
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 19secs
5. Konstantin Sioutsou (Blr) Columbia-Highroad at 21secs
6. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d’Epargne at same time
7. Morris Possoni (Ita) Columbia-Highroad at 22secs
8. Alberto Losada (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 31secs
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas at 34secs
10. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Silence-Lotto at 36secs
27. Daniel Fleeman (GB) Cervelo Test Team at 50secs
90. Charly Wegelius (GB) Silence-Lotto at 9-04
133. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-Highroad at 18-19
Mark Cavendish heads the Columbia team
Tour of Romandie stage 3 TTT photo gallery, by Graham Watson>>
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Romandie stage one: Serrano hold off the sprinters
Stage one photo gallery, by Graham Watson
Prologue: Rabon wins Romandie prologue
Prologue photo gallery, by Graham Watson
Mark Cavendish: Rider Profile