Rohan Dennis smashes Tour de Romandie 2021 prologue as Ineos Grenadiers dominate the podium

The Australian leads the race with Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte just behind

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rohan Dennis smashed his competition on the prologue of the 2021 Tour de Romandie, as Ineos Grenadiers dominated the podium.

Dennis destroyed the times of the rivals who raced earlier in the day, taking the top spot with a time of 5-26 over the short but challenging course.

He was followed by general classification contenders Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte, who both set times nine seconds slower than Dennis, with Thomas now sitting second overall and Porte in third.

How it happened

The opening stage of the 2021 Tour de Romandie was the first of two individual time trials bookending this year’s race.

At just 4km-long, the prologue in Oron in western Switzerland, was an explosive test, starting with an out-and-back stretch, before a sharp right turn, with the stage culminating in a challenging 700-metre final climb to the line, with an average gradient of 6.5 per cent.

Early in the stage, all attention was on the time trial specialists, particularly Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo) and Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), who both battled for the provisional race lead. 

It was Bissegger who crossed the line first with a strong time of 5-36 after holding an average speed of 43.264km/h, with European champion Küng just behind on the road.

Küng wasn’t able to match the time of his Swiss compatriot, with a time of 5-43, fast enough for provisional third place behind Bissegger and Israel Start-Up Nation’s Patrick Bevin. 

As the podium continued to change over the course of the day, Bissegger’s time stood up to the challenge until former time trial world champion Dennis hit the course.

At the time check just over 2km into the course, Dennis had matched Bissegger’s time but on the final climb to the line the Australian found an extra gear, smashing the previous fastest time by 11 seconds.

Dennis took over the hot seat with a time of 5-27, but still faced the daunting prospect of his team-mate Filippo Ganna soon hitting the course. 

But despite being just three seconds down on Dennis at the timing check, Ganna’s power wasn’t enough to match the climbing ability of Dennis, with the reigning world champion only managing the provisional fifth fastest time, 14 seconds behind the leader.

Ineos weren’t done yet however, with Richie Porte crushing the course and finishing provisional second place with a time of 5-36, just nine seconds behind his compatriot and team-mate Dennis. 

Rémi Cavagna, the French national TT champion then put in a dangerous ride, going three seconds faster at the intermediate time check, but losing time on the climb and rolling in third place with a 5-37. 

The last rider to set off on the course was another Ineos Grenadiers star, Geraint Thomas, always a consistent performer in a TT. 

Despite crossing the intermediate timing check nine seconds down on the fastest times, Thomas committed to the second half of the course and flew up the final climb, finishing with a time of 5-35, fast enough for second place behind Dennis. 

Dennis now leads the race overall heading into the first road stage, with Thomas and Porte close behind at a nine-second deficit. 

>>> Geraint Thomas leads super-strong Ineos Grenadiers team at Tour de Romandie 2021 

Chris Froome, continuing his comeback from serious injury with Israel Start-Up Nation, finished in 130th place, 52 seconds down on Dennis.

 Results

Tour de Romandie 2021, prologue: Oron to Oron (4.05km ITT)

1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers, in 5-26

2. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 9s

3. Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers, at same time

4. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 11s

5. Stefan Bissegger (Sui) EF Education-Nippo, at same time

6. Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain-Victorious, at 13s

7. Jesús Herrada (Esp) Cofidis, at 14s

8. Marc Hirschi (Sui) UAE Team Emirates, at 15s

9. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck - Quick-Step

10. Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers, all at same time

General classification after prologue

1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers, in 5-26

2. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 9s

3. Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers, at same time

4. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 11s

5. Stefan Bissegger (Sui) EF Education-Nippo, at same time

6. Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain-Victorious, at 13s

7. Jesús Herrada (Esp) Cofidis, at 14s

8. Marc Hirschi (Sui) UAE Team Emirates, at 15s

9. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck - Quick-Step

10. Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers, all at same time