Katusha cyclist Ilnur Zakarin of Russia won the Tour of Romandie in Lausanne on Sunday holding off Britain’s two-time defending champion Chris Froome in the closing individual time-trial.
The 25-year-old Zakarin had taken the race leader’s yellow jersey at the end of Saturday’s fifth stage but Sky star Froome had been expected to be too strong on Sunday.
The 17.3-kilometre time-trial in the streets of the Swiss town was won by German specialist Tony Martin of Katusha.
Zakarin, whose previous best results never suggested he could be a contender in a race of this quality, even overcame a technical problem which obliged him to change bikes five kilometres from the finish to take the prestigious prize.
Froome, whose main target this season is to regain his Tour de France title he surrendered last year when he crashed out, failed to fire in the time-trial but he was far from dejected at not retaining his crown.
“I am not disappointed,” the 29-year-old Kenya-born rider told Swiss television station RTS afterwards.
“I know it is a long season and we still have two months till the start of the Tour de France.
“I am now going to go off on a training camp at altitude before competing in the Dauphine (a traditional warm-up race for the Tour).”
Martin for his part was astonished at Zakarin’s performance — the 2007 European junior time-trial champion still managed to only finish 13 seconds behind the German in the time-trial despite his changing bikes.
“I am very surprised by his performance today notably because of his changing bike,” said Martin.
“Already yesterday I was surprised (Zakarin finished second in a tough mountain stage). I didn’t know of him before.”
Tour of Romandie results after the sixth and final stage, a 17.3 kilometres time-trial round Lausanne, on Sunday:
1. Tony Martin (GER/Etixx) 23min 17sec, 2. Simon Spilak (SLO/Katusha) at 11sec, 3. Ilnur Zakarin (RUS/Katusha) 13, 4. Jurgen Van den Broek (BEL/Lotto Soudal) 19, 5. Rohann Dennis (AUS/BMC) 22, 6. Romain Bardet (FRA/AG2R) 24, 7. Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP/Movistar) 25, 8. Stef Clement (NED/IAM) 26, 9. Rafal Majka (POL/Tinkoff) 28, 10. Steve Morabito (SUI/FDJ) 31.
13. Christopher Froome (GBR/SKY) 34, 20. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 56, 22. Nairo Quintana (COL/Movistar) 1min 01sec, 24. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/Astana) 1:03
1. Ilnur Zakarin (RUS/Katusha) 18hr 36min 30sec, 2. Simon Spilak (SLO/Katusha) at 17sec, 3. Christopher Froome (GNR/Sky) 35, 4. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 49, 5. Rigoberto Uran (COL/Etixx) 1min 20sec, 6. Simon Yates (GBR/Orica) 1:21, 7. Rafal Majka (POL/Tinkoff) 1:24, 8. Nairo Quintana (COL/Movistar) 1:42, 9. Romain Bardet (FRA/AG2R) 1:43, 10. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/Astana) 1:54.
– Agence France-Presse