Rohan Dennis has continued his superb form at the Tour de Romandie, the Australian maintaining his hold on the yellow jersey at the prestigious Swiss race even after a day of slog working for his teammates.
The Adelaide time trial specialist somehow managed to keep hold of the race lead on Thursday despite sacrificing himself for his Ineos Grenadiers team leaders Geraint Thomas and Australian Richie Porte, who are fancied to contend for overall victory over the weekend.
His sterling efforts on the second stage, whch was won in a sprint finish by Italian Sonny Colbrelli, did not go unnoticed or unappreciated by former Tour de France winner Thomas, who said: “He stepped up when he had to, that’s for sure.”
Dennis worked wonders over a punishing final 17 kilometres, helping pull back attacks and enabling the British-based Grenadiers to keep their control of the race as he finished up by setting a formidable tempo all the way to the line.
His sterling efforts over the 167.5km mountainous slog from La Neuveville to Saint-Imier got their reward when the 30-year-old, who won yellow in the time trial prologue, was able to protect his eight-second overall lead.
The Grenadiers 1-2-3 sweep was, though, broken up after New Zealander Patrick Bevin picked up some bonus seconds at the line as runner-up in the final sprint to move into second overall, just a second ahead of Thomas and Porte.
“The team got no help from anybody else but we did a perfect job,”said a delighted Dennis.
“There were a few people who wanted to have a bit of a crack on the final climb and we just controlled that, putting ourselves at the front to make nobody really want to do anything on the final descent to the finish.
“With three of us at the front, they can tell I’m happy to sacrifice myself. On the slight downhill it’s quite fast and I don’t think anybody in their right mind would say they are going to go too far (off the front).
“So save their energy for another day. Tomorrow is another solid day and then Saturday is the queen stage and I’m sure there will be a lot of fireworks up there.”
Thomas added: “Obviously we’d have preferred for Rohan not to have to do anything today – but he stepped up when he had to, that’s for sure.
“He got in the groove and didn’t really want to stop! It was a really good day. A lot could have gone wrong out there and the boys did a great job in controlling it all.
“We’ve been lucky with the weather too. The talk before the race was there would be rain every day here, but so far so good. Someone is on our side.”
The race continues on Friday with another hilly 169km stage which starts and finishes in Estavayer.