Egan Bernal (Team Sky) produced an exceptional ride to beat his more experienced GC rivals in an uphill time trial on stage three of the Tour de Romandie.
The stage looked to belong to Richie Porte (BMC Racing) after the Australian powered to a time of 25-28 on the nine kilometre course, putting half a minute into then-leader Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo).
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However Bernal overturned a deficit at the intermediate split to beat Porte’s time by 18 seconds on the line, with his time of 25-10 being enough to give him the stage win.
The only remaining man who could come close to Bernal’s time was race leader Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo) who actually covered the second half of the course quicker than the young Colombian, but was unable to overturn his deficit from the intermediate split.
Roglič crossed the line just four seconds behind Bernal on the day, a result which means that he remains in the yellow jersey but sees his lead cut to just six seconds to Bernal.
How it happened
Stage three of the Tour de Romandie saw the riders face a nasty 9.9mk uphill time trial from Ollon to the ski resort of Villars, with almost all of the riders opting for a standard road bike over a time trial bike.
Michael Storer (Team Sunweb) was the early front runner with a time of 27-44 which stood for nearly an hour until Matteo Fabbro (Katusha-Alpecin) put in a storming ride to knock 26 seconds off Storer’s time.
However, Fabbro’s time didn’t stand for long as he was beaten first by Kristijan Durasek (UAE Team Emirates) and then by Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), before Simon Spilak became the first rider to go under 27 minutes with a time of 26-53.
As Spilak finished the top 10 were starting to roll off the ramp at the bottom of the mountain, with Richie Porte (BMC Racing) making a rare equipment choice as he opted for a standard road bike with clip-on TT bars.
Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) was the next rider to take to the hot seat as he put in a stellar performance to catch minute-man Damien Howson (Mitchelton-Scott) and clock a time of 26-38, but he didn’t remain in the lead for long as Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) produced a strong ride to go under 26 minutes with a 25-58.
However, halfway down the course Porte was looking smooth as he went faster the Kruijswijk at the intermediate time check, and only got faster from there as he put half a minute into the Dutchman with a time of 25-28.
That looked like it would be the best time of the day, but Egan Bernal (Team Sky) was in touch at the intermediate split just nine seconds behind Porte, and the set a blistering pace up the second half to eclipse Port’s time by a massive 18 seconds.
In the end that time would be good enough for Bernal to win the stage, but the Colombian still had a few nervy moments as final finisher and race leader Primož Roglič came within sight of the finish with the clock still ticking towards Bernal’s time.
However, Roglič did not quite have enough in the tank, and he eventually finished four seconds down, a result that gave Bernal the stage win but ensured that Roglič remained in the yellow jersey heading into Saturday’s queen stage.
Tour de Romandie 2018, stage three: Ollon to Villars, 9.9km (ITT)
1. Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky, in 25-10.7
2. Primož Roglič (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 4 secs
3. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing, at 18 secs
4. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 48 secs
5. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-06
6. Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, at 1-21
7. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing, at 1-25
8. Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-28
9. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-30
10. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin, at 1-43
General classification after stage three
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo, in 8-39-39
2. Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky, at 6 secs
3. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing, at 27 secs
4. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 1-02
5. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-17
6. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing, at 1-22
7. Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, at same time
8. Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-42
9. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at same time
10. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Bahrain-Merida, at 1-55