Tour de Romandie: Michal Kwiatkowski betters Chris Froome in prologue opener
Michal Kwiatkowski went quickest in the Tour de Romandie prologue as Chris Froome began his title defence.
Last Updated: 29/04/14 5:26pm
Final rider down the ramp, Froome's time stacked up favourably against a number of general classification rivals in what was always going to be a tight contest across the short 5.57-kilometre blast.
Bouncing back from a last-minute withdrawal at Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday, the Team Sky rider took no risks as he made his way through the tight lakeside course.
Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) continued his momentum following the Ardennes with victory, clocking a fastest time of six minutes and 22 seconds to move into the early race lead.
The time was enough to hold off team-mate and time trial world champion Tony Martin, who placed fifth, while the fastest rider at the intermediate split Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) came home four seconds back.
Sprint powerhouse Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) displayed why he was once better known for his time trial capabilities with third on the day.
The first stage began just outside the Romandie region and on a short course it was no surprise to see the first 50 riders covered by 20 seconds.
The event did not get off to a good start for one of the pre-race contenders after Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) crashed early into his prologue run. The American finished last on the stage, dropping 3:21 to the leader.
Kwiatkowski headed down the ramp early and, despite nine riders going quicker at the half-way point, set a searing benchmark that would not be bettered.
Wednesday's stage one features 200.9km from Ascona to Sion and is live on Sky Sports 2 HD between 1500-1700.