Aleksandr Vlasov sealed overall victory at Tour de Romandie on Sunday after the Bora-Hansgrohe rider won the last stage on a dramatic final day of the six-day race while Rohan Dennis lost his grip on the leader’s jersey.
Vlasov won the mountainous 15.84 kilometre time trial from Aigle to Villars in 33min 40sec, 31sec faster than runner-up Simon Geschke (Cofidis), while Gino Mäder (Bahrain Victorious) was third at 36sec.
After winning the first WorldTour race of his career, Vlasov, 26, said he was ‘super-happy with the result’ while adding that Saturday’s stage, where he finished second to team-mate Sergio Higuita, was ‘just a warm-up’.
“I’m in good shape, I felt that I could win the race,” Vlasov said. “I rode to avoid the crashes and injuries, and to have the best legs for today’s stage. It’s my first WorldTour win, and also my first general classification in a WorldTour stage race. It’s amazing, I’m super-happy.”
By contrast, Dennis (Jumbo-Visma) who had led the race since stage one after Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) crashed out of contention, plummeted down the standings after the two-time world time trial champion finished the stage in 22nd, 2min 12sec off the pace of Vlasov.
“I’m absolutely spent,” said Dennis. “I had absolutely nothing left in the final half of the climb. I think the week has taken its toll, fighting each day. It was a great week with the team, I want to thank them for the hard work.”
Mäder finished second on general classification, while Geschke took third after teenager Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) dropped down to fourth. Defending champion Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) moved up four places to finish 19th overall, 3min 28sec behind Vlasov.
Hayter, 23, who won the prologue and stage two – the first WorldTour wins of his career – sealed the points classification; Toms Skujiņs won the mountains competition and Ayuso took home the best young rider’s jersey.
Meanwhile in Germany, Vlasov ‘s team-mate Sam Bennett won Eschborn-Frankfurt, the Irishman beating Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) and Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) in a bunch sprint finish. It was the first win for Bennett, 31, for almost a year, his last victory coming at the Volta ao Algarve on May 7, 2021.
Stage four: Higuita wins queen stage ahead of Vlasov
Saturday April 30 – Aigle to Zinal, 180.1km
Sergio Higuita edged out team-mate Aleksandr Vlasov to make it a Bora-Hansgrohe one-two in the fourth stage at the Tour de Romandie on Saturday, while Rohan Dennis kept hold of his overall leader’s jersey.
Higuita’s win – his fourth of the year, including the Colombian road title – came after almost five hours of racing over a sequence of climbs on the 180.1km stage from Aigle to Zinal featuring 4,157 metres in elevation gain.
With the day’s breakaway caught, Einer Rubio (Movistar) made his move with the Colombian rolling solo off the front of the reduced peloton around 9km from the finish before gaining a decent gap. Moments later defending champion Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) was dropped, the Welshman eventually finishing 1min 20sec down on the day and 1min 55sec behind former team-mate Dennis of the Jumbo-Visma squad.
Rubio, however, was unable to hold on after Luke Plapp, one of the emerging talents of the Ineos Grenadiers squad, reeled him in with a late surge in the final kilometre. As the Australian national champion faded following his exertions, Higuita came around Plapp and Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates) and sprinted to the line ahead of team-mate Vlasov to take the stage win. Teenage prodigy Ayuso took third, the Spaniard moving up to second on general classification 15sec adrift of Dennis, while Vlasov is now third at 18sec.
Stage three: Bevin sprints to victory ahead of Hayter
Friday April 29 – Valbroye to Valbroye, 165.1km
Patrick Bevin won his first race of the season – and his team’s first WorldTour victory since Dan Martin at last year’s Giro d’Italia – when the New Zealand rider produced a late surge at the end of the 165.1km third stage at the Tour de Romandie on Friday.
Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers), who won the opening-day prologue and Thursday’s second stage, took runners-up spot as the 23-year-old Londoner continued to show strong form, while overall race leader Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma) was third.
Bevin moved up to third on general classification, 14sec off Dennis, while Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) dropped down to third. Defending champion Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) remains 24th, but lost 4sec to Dennis thanks to the time bonus earned for finishing third on the stage.
Hayter, who bounced back to win Thursday’s stage two after losing the race lead in a crash on Wednesday, extended his advantage in the points classification heading into the weekend.
Stage two: Hayter bounces back in emphatic style
Thursday April 28 – Échallens to Échallens, 168.2km
Ethan Hayter bounced back from the disappointment of crashing out of contention for overall victory at the Tour de Romandie in emphatic style when the Ineos Grenadiers rider won stage two on Thursday.
Having taken the overall lead after winning the prologue, Hayter crashed heavily in Wednesday’s first stage which resulted in the 23-year-old plummeting down the general classification to 133rd, 14min 33sec off the pace of race leader Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma). However, following some controlled riding from Ineos Grenadiers on the 168.2km stage from Échallens to Échallens, Hayter was able to contest the sprint where he beat Jon Aberasturi (Trek-Segafredo) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) to land the second WorldTour win of his career in just three days.
“We knew [the stage victory] was possible but I didn’t know how I’d be after [the crash] yesterday,” Hayter said. “I rode my way into the stage and the team were amazing today. It’s probably my nicest win – they took it on and we were in position to take the race on like that. To finish it off with a win is amazing.”
Dennis kept hold of the leader’s jersey after finishing safely in the bunch, with Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) second at 14sec. Geraint Thomas, however, dropped down to 24th at 34sec after the defending champion was penalised with a 20-second penalty after he was adjudged to have taken an illegal feed in the final 20 kilometres.
Stage one: Teuns pounces as Dennis takes overall lead
Wednesday April 27 – La Grande Beroche to Romont, 178km
Dylan Teuns pounced to land his second victory of the season on Wednesday when the Bahrain Victorious rider won stage one at the Tour de Romandie, while second-placed Rohan Dennis took the leader’s jersey off the shoulders of Ethan Hayter.
Teuns, who earlier this month won the Flèche Wallonne one-day classic in his native Belgium, made his move on the final drag after Dennis (Jumbo-Visma) had put space between himself and the leading group containing a number of overall contenders, including defending champion Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers).
Despite missing out on the stage win, Dennis took hold of the leader’s jersey after Ineos Grenadiers rider Hayter was involved in a mass pile-up on the fast approach to the final categorised climb of the day. Hayter managed to remount and cross the finishing line, but all but dropped out of contention after losing over 14 minutes to Dennis.
Following Hayter’s crash, Thomas, who finished 12th on the day, moved up to third on general classification, the Welshman trailing former team-mate Dennis by 16sec, while Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) moved up a place to second on the same time.
Prologue: Britain’s Hayter storms into early lead
Tuesday April 26 – Lausanne to Lausanne, 5.12km
Ethan Hayter landed the first WorldTour victory of his career on Tuesday when the Ineos Grenadiers rider won the prologue of the six-day Tour de Romandie in Switzerland.
The British national time trial champion powered around the short 5.12 kilometre course in Lausanne in 5min 52sec, 4sec faster than Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma), the two-time world time trial champion, while Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) was third at 9sec.
Having earlier in the season tested positive with Covid, the south Londoner had struggled with form and despite winning a stage and the points jersey at last month’s Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, the 23-year-old took a four-week break from racing, before returning to action at the Tour de Romandie.
“I’ve had few setbacks at the start of the year, so I’ve taken a bit of a break from racing and gone away and trained really hard,” Hayter said. “To come back like this is really nice. This time trial suited me, I thought I’d give it a crack and it worked out well.
“It’s been a while since I’ve last been racing, so it was a shock to the system,” Hayter added. “I spent a lot of time at 600 watts on the uphill drags and I actually cornered quite fast, too. I went out hard and pushed on a few of the corners, though I took the last one quite steady as I was hitting 70 kilometres per hour.”
Geraint Thomas, the defending champion and team-mate of Hayter, was fourth fastest and will start stage one 10sec down on general classification.
“Fourth’s alright, it could have been better,” Thomas said. “It’s a funny feeling doing a prologue like this after [Liège-Bastogne-Liège] on Sunday. But I’m happy with it. I gave it everything. We’ll see how this week goes. I’ll try to win the race again.”
It was a good start for Ethan Vernon (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl), too, ensuring that three British riders were in the top 10 on general classification after the opening day, but there was less good news for Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech), the four-time Tour de France winner, who finished in 119th spot after finishing 42sec slower than former team-mate Hayter.