Primož Roglič continues his stage race domination as he took victory on stage one of the 2019 Tour de Romandie.
The Jumbo-Visma rider takes over the race lead after besting general classification rivals in a sprint from a 20-man group.
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Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) put in a stinging solo attack inside the final kilometre but was unable to hold off the group, as Roglič took victory with a strong sprint ahead of David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) and Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates).
Roglič goes into the race lead with a 10-second advantage over Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) after prologue winner Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-Merida) lost contact in the final 50km.
How it happened
A characteristically punchy day marked the first road stage of the 2019 edition of the Tour de Romandie, over 168.4km from the city of Neuchâtel in the east of Switzerland to nearby La Chaux-de-Fonds.
The peloton faced five medium-difficulty climbs along the route, the last of which the Col de la Tourne (4.2km long and 7.2 per cent average) came 14km from home.
After that test, riders would take on a short descent and a long false flat, before an uncategorised climb, another drop, and then the final slightly downhill run to the line.
Early in the race a big breakaway of 12 riders went clear, including notable names Diego Rosa (Team Ineos), Eros Capecchi (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale).
The breakaway extended its advantage to 3-40 inside 100km, with the peloton aware to the danger of such a big group building up a gap.
A chase then took shape as the bunch rapidly began to close down the escapees.
As the race approached 40km left to race, eight riders remained out front with an advantage of just over a minute – Rosa, Capecchi, and Gougeard holding their places at the front of the race along with Chad Haga (Sunweb), Lukasz Owsian (CCC Team), Simon Pellaud (Switzerland), Jonas Vinegaard (Jumbo-Visma), and Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto-Soudal).
The break were caught on the final categorised climb of the day, with a handful of attacks following quickly.
Nothing stuck until Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) attacked with 25km left to ride and pulled out an advantage while riding alone.
Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) was next to attack from the peloton 15km from home with David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) on his wheel, as Michael Woods (EF Education First) joined them in pursuing Buchmann.
The pace over the final kilometres tore the race to pieces until only 20 riders remained at the front, with race leader Tratnik nowhere in sight.
Thomas, Woods and Gaudu were able to catch Buchmann, but it was a doomed effort as the remains of the peloton caught them inside 5km.
The group of 20 came into the final few kilometres together, as Geraint Thomas launched a last-ditch solo attack that looked like it may have caught rivals by surprise.
But Thomas was quickly overtaken inside the last kilometre to set up a sprint amongst the climbing talent that made it to the line.
Roglič showed his all-round strength and took the win over Gaudu with Rui Costa finishing third.
The Slovenian goes into the leader’s jersey after his second place finish on the prologue stage.
Tour de Romandie 2019 stage one: Neuchâtel to La Chaux-de-Fonds (168.4km)
1. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 4-5-18
2. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
3. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates
4. Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First
5. Damien Howson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
6. Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Lotto Soudal
7. Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Movistar
8. Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana
9. Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
10. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Gobert, all at same time
General classification after stage one
1. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 4-20-15
2. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 10 seconds
3. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 12s
4. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos, at 13s
5. Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar, at 14s
6. Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 15s
7. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 17s
8. James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 18s
9. Damien Howson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott, at same time
10. Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar Team, at 19s