Chris Froome sealed victory at the Tour de Romandie for the second year in succession by winning the final stage’s individual time trial in Neuchatel.
The Team Sky rider trailed overnight leader Simon Spilak by one second in the general classification but negotiated an 18.5km course 29 seconds faster than his Slovenian rival, in a time of 24min 50sec.
The result means Froome reclaims the yellow jersey he won last year and gets his preparations for July’s Tour de France back on track following a spring campaign disrupted by injury and illness.
The margin of his stage win was much narrower, having beaten world time trial champion Tony Martin by less than a second. New Zealand’s Jesse Sergent was eight seconds back in third, while Spilak could only finish seventh.
Froome said afterwards: “It was a really good test for me and I am just really happy to have got the result and be back in a yellow jersey again. It’s a really good feeling.
“This has been a really hard period for me recently. I have had a chest infection, I have had problems with my back this season, so it hasn’t been very easy.
"I have worked really hard to get back to this kind of condition. I just hope that I can continue to build towards the Tour de France."
One of Froome’s predicted key rivals at the Tour de France, Vincenzo Nibali, saw his poor form this week continue, finishing only 17th on the day as he dropped to fifth in the general classification, 1min 48sec down on Froome.
The 28-year-old Briton also gave Team Sky their third overall win in a row at the Tour de Romandie, after Sir Bradley Wiggins had won the 2012 edition.
Froome added: “I didn’t feel at all comfortable in the race. It was flat out. It wasn’t easy. This year was a bit of a different race. We didn’t have any hilltop finishes, but I am really happy to have been able to defend the title."
Stage five result
1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 24:50
2 Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, +1sec
3 Jesse Sergent (NZ) Trek Factory Racing, +8
4 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, +15
5 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar, +20
6 Riccardo Zoidl (Aut) Trek Factory Racing, +29
7 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha, +29
8 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida, +31
9 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, +35
10 Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling, same time
Final general classification
1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 16:18:46
2 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha, +28sec
3 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida, +1:32
4 Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling. +1:44
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, +1:48
6 Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar, +1:52
7 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, +1:56
8 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar, +2:07
9 Jesus Herrada (Spa) Movistar, +2:15
10 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, +2:31