Movistar’s Nairo Quintana took the leader’s jersey on a controversial stage two finish from team-mate Ion Izagirre and kept a firm grip on it throughout the rest of the race turning in solid performances to maintain his position ahead of runner-up Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and third-placed Izagirre. This race concludes a successful early season for the Colombian who will be only too aware that three of the previous five winners went on to claim the maillot jaune in July.
Rider of the Race
I’m plumping for runner-up Thibaut Pinot who’s had a storming start to 2016 in the lead-up to that all important Tour de France. Overall winner in the Criterium International back in March, where he won two stages including the individual time-trial, fourth-placed finisher in the gruelling Tour of the Basque country, and now he’s the first-ever FDJ rider to win a WorldTour individual time-trial!
That he did so ahead of a rider of the calibre of Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) speaks volumes to his and his team’s dedication to addressing his and their weaknesses
and their goal of a Tour de France podium. And what a contrast to last year’s race, where he won the queen stage and best young rider jersey but finished 20th in the time-trial and surrendered his chance to take overall victory.
That win in Friday’s time-trial was followed up by his battling third-place finish (including four bonus seconds) on Saturday’s mountainous queen stage, which cemented his overall position in the race and augurs well for his next major objectives, the Dauphine and the Tour de France.
Things that made us go ooooh and aaaaah!
Spectacular scenery: Switzerland is blessed with this and it appears the riders agree.
Weather: No, no one has enjoyed the weather. This refers to how the organisers have responded positively to the challenge of the wet and snowy conditions by shortening stage one to avoid the (probably) dangerous early climb. A number of teams wisely withdrew riders, who were already out of contention for today’s stage, largely to safeguard their Giro prospects.
Hotel Food: Well, we are in the French-speaking bit of Switzerland.
Fighting Qualities: We may not have had a Quintana v Froome v Porte face-off but there’s much to cheer about the Colombian’s overall victory and Froomey’s fight-back:-
Controversy: Having watched the finish of stage 2 several times, I find myself in agreement with Andrew Hood and Robbie McEwen, he knows a thing or two about sprinting:-
Fortunately the decision didn’t influence the overall victory though if Zakarin had received 10 rather than six bonus seconds for the stage, he might have finished on the podium in third place.
What does it all mean?
I’m pretty much repeating what I said after the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. It’s all good news. We’re in for a cracking three months of racing with the leading protagonists finely poised in their preparations for the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. What a mouthwatering prospect! Remember, the Giro starts in the Netherlands on Friday 6 May and we’ll have it covered here on VeloVoices. I just know it’s going to be a cracker.
1. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 16:20:20
2. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +00:19
3. Ion Izagirre (Movistar) +00:23
4. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) +00:26
5. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) +00:57
Points Jersey: Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE)
King of the Mountains Jersey: Sander Armee (Lotto Soudal)
Best Young Rider: Pierre-Roger Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale)
Team Classification Leader: Movistar
Prologue: Ion Izagirre (Movistar) Final KM here
Stage 1: Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) Final KM here
Stage 2: Nairo Quintana (Movistar) Final KM here
Stage 3: Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) Final KM here
Stage 4: Chris Froome (Sky) Final KM here
Stage 5: Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) Final KM here
Links: Official race website, Twitter #TDR2016 and Facebook
Header: The winner, Tour de Romandie 2016 from race website © Keystone/Jean Christophe Bott