To launch the 2023 Tour de Romandie, the riders had to cover a bit less than seven kilometres on Tuesday, on the prologue that started and ended in Port-Valais. An eight-minute effort or so were therefore on the menu, and Lewis Askey managed it the best for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team. The Brit finished twenty-five seconds behind the winner Josef Cerny, while Thibaut Pinot and Lenny Martinez conceded twenty-seven and forty-one seconds respectively to the Czech rider.

Just like last year, the bunch was expected on the shores of Lake Geneva for the Grand Départ of the Tour de Romandie. This time, the meeting point was however on the south shore, in Port-Valais, rather than in Lausanne on the north one. The opening prologue was also slightly longer than in 2023, with exactly 6,820 meters on the menu for the riders. “It was quite a simple course”, explained Jussi Veikkanen. “It was all flat, on a narrow cycle track, and with only three turns. We did the recon after the rain in the morning, but the road was dry for the first riders. It wasn’t an issue. The conditions were stable for everyone, so it didn’t change anything to start at the beginning or at the end”. The first team rider to set off, Matthieu Ladagnous set a time of 7’59. Reuben Thompson then covered the course in 8’07, Lorenzo Germani in 7’54, Lewis Askey in 7’50 and Enzo Paleni in 7’57.

“The road is still long”, Jussi Veikkanen

Thibaut Pinot started at 4:54 p.m. and crossed the finish line seven minutes and fifty-two seconds later, twenty-seven seconds behind the leader and future winner Josef Cerny. “It was really a time trial for specialists”, said the Frenchman. “It is a decent time, nothing more. I did not expect better since it was my first intensity ride for ten days. I did not really know how it would be, but it wasn’t too bad.” About twenty minutes later, his young teammate Lenny Martinez covered the prologue in eight minutes and six seconds. “The main goal was to limit our losses and to not take risks”, claimed Jussi. “With the group we have here, we were surely not on our terrain today, and the results show it. It’s always a pity to lose time, but the Tour de Romandie has only just begun. The road is still long and the stages that suit us the most will be at the end of the week. We will see day by day.” Wednesday, the peloton will head to the Vallée de Joux in a day featuring 2300 meters of elevation gain. “Given the startlist, a bunch sprint is still expected”, concluded Jussi.

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