Elia Viviani (Team Sky) took the bunch sprint at the end of stage three of the 2017 Tour de Romandie in Switzerland on Friday.
The Italian’s victory comes on the day that Team Sky made the somewhat surprise announcement that he would not be riding in this year’s Giro d’Italia.
Viviani put in a perfectly-paced effort to the line to overhaul a late turn of speed by Alex Edmondson (Orica-Scott), having been led out by team-mates Owain Doull and Tour de France champion Chris Froome.
Fellow Italian Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) placed second, with German Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) in third.
Prologue winner Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) finished in the bunch to retain the overall race lead going into the final two stages.
The riders were greeted in Payerne with improved weather over the previous days’ snowy conditions. There was still plenty of winter kit on show, but thankfully drier roads and with the weather warming up throughout the day.
The early break consisted of seven riders: Victor Campenaerts (LottoNL-Jumbo), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Hugo Houle (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Davide Martinelli (Quick-Step Floors), Lukas Postlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Toms Skujins (Cannondale-Drapac) and Nikita Stalnov (Astana).
Three minutes was around the maximum advantage gained, and they were caught just inside 40km to go.
With an early catch, it was almost inevitable that other attacks would be launched. Sure enough, Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac) made his move on the day’s last climb, and was followed by Arnaud Courteille (FDJ). They were then caught by Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal) and Courteille’s team-mate Sebastien Reichenbach, before also being reeled in by the bunch.
Second in the opening prologue, Alex Dowsett (Movistar) put his time trialling skills to use again with a solo attack with 24km to go. He very quickly opened up a gap as there was no cohesion in the chase.
Dowsett slipped into TT mode, drooping his arms over the bars and powering on. He managed to stay out front for 20km, before being caught. He’ll certainly be a rider to watch out for in the race’s final time trial on Sunday.
Team Sky put riders at the front of the bunch into the final kilometre, with Doull and Froome working to position Viviani.
Just as it looked as though Viviani was in prime spot, Edmondson accelerated up the right-hand side of the road, opening a gap. Viviani spotted the danger and reacted immediately. He caught Edmondson and hit the line to take his first win of the season – and his first at WorldTour level since 2015
Felline leads Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors) by eight seconds overall, with Jesus Herrada (Movistar) in third also at eight seconds.
Just two stages remain in the 2017 Tour de Romandie: Saturday’s queen climbing stage from Domdidier to Leysin, with a testing ascent to the finish; and Sunday’s decisive 18.3km time trial in Lausanne.
Tour de Romandie 2017, stage three: Payerne to Payerne, 187km
1. Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky, in 4-27-42
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
3. Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Orica-Scott
5. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
6. Youcef Reguigui (Alg) Dimension Data
7. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors
8. Moreno Hofland (Ned) Lotto-Soudal
9. Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
10. Juan José Lobato (Esp) LottoNL-Jumbo, all same time
General classification after stage three
1. Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, in 12-40-24
2. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors, at 8 secs
3. Jesus Herrada (Esp) Movistar Team, at 8 secs
4. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 9 secs
5. Jon Izaguirre (Esp) Bahrain-Merida, at 12 secs
6. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors, at 12 secs
7. José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin, at 13 secs
8. Ruben Fernandez (Esp) Movistar, at 13 secs
9. Michael Albasini (Sui) Orica-Scott, at 14 secs
10. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar, at 14 secs