It looked like Rohan Dennis had done it. A first non-time trial victory in five years.
A lumpy first day of road racing at the Tour de Romandie had left a reduced bunch to contest the final uphill kick to the finish line in the medieval town of Romont. Quick-Step AlphaVinyl’s Rémi Cavagna did what Rémi Cavagna does and attacked in the final 6 km, a desperate bid for freedom that lasted until the 2 km banner.
Then, under the flame rouge, UAE Team Emirates’ Brandon McNulty let rip, peeling off the front after his American compatriot Magnus Sheffield had ramped the pace up for his Ineos Grenadiers leader Geraint Thomas. Rohan Dennis followed McNulty, Dylan Teuns also in pursuit. Dennis persisted, hitting out, flying up the incline. The Jumbo-Visma man a blur in his orange points jersey.
Dennis continued to power into the final few hundred metres, the gap looked good, but then came Flèche Wallonne victor Teuns. Running out of steam, Dennis sat down in his saddle, Teuns sprinting, pulling Dennis back metre-by-metre. Just before the line the Belgian was finally ahead, snatching victory from the Australian, whose head was now bowed in defeat. Another runner-up spot after his second place in the opening prologue.
His effort wasn’t entirely in vain, however, as Dennis now takes the race lead. His time trial performance yesterday and 10 bonus seconds on the finish line of stage one give him a 16-second buffer over both Thomas and Bora-Hansgrohe’s Felix Großschartner.
“The last 100 m were a death march for me but I basically just gave it everything,” Dennis said after the finish. “The stage just wasn’t quite short enough, a couple of metres shorter and I would have taken the stage as well. I’m happy with the result, I got the leader’s jersey. I just couldn’t get to the line quick enough.”
“I’ll ride to the finish line as hard as I can every day and see what happens on GC,” he continued of his plans for the rest of the race. “But I’m not saying I’m one of the favourites even after yesterday and today.”