Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski of the Omega Pharma team won the prologue to the Tour of Romandie on Tuesday in the Swiss town of Ascona.
Kwiatkowski recorded the quickest time on the short 5.57km course, of 6min 22sec, to beat Rohan Dennis of Australia by two seconds and Germany’s Marcel Kittel by four seconds.
Triple world time-trial champion Tony Martin of Germany settled for fifth place, five seconds off the pace, while Italian Giacomo Nizzolo squeezed home in fourth spot.
Defending Romandie champion and Tour de France holder Chris Froome of Sky came home 13th, 10 seconds behind Kwiatkowski’s winning time, while overall contender and Giro d’Italia champion Vincenzo Nibali was two seconds slower in 18th.
“It’s a big surprise. I was in form for the Ardennes classics but I didn’t know what kind of form I would be in today,” said Kwiatkowski, who takes the leader’s yellow jersey.
“I’m really happy with what I’ve done. To have a few seconds advantage is something special.”
The first stage proper is scheduled for Wednesday and a 200.9km run from Ascona to Sion which will feature the snow covered Simplon climb.
The six-day race finishes on Sunday with a 18.5km time-trial around Neuchatel.
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/OPQ) 6min 22sec 2. Rohan Dennis (AUS/GRM) at 4secs 3. Marcel Kittel (GER/GIA) 4, 4. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA/RSH) 4, 5. Tony Martin (GER/OPQ) 5
13. Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) 10 secs, 18. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) 12 secs