British cycling star Bradley Wiggins donned the overall leader’s yellow jersey here on Wednesday after winning the first stage of the Tour of Romandie, a 184.5km ride from Morges to La Chaux-de-Fonds.
The 31-year-old winner of the Paris-Nice stage race earlier this season overcame a puncture 25km from the finish to get back into contention and then launched himself into a decisive sprint 400m from the line.
He had enough strength left to resist a late attack by Lieuwe Westra and Paolo Tiralongo to take the stage and give his Sky team their second win in as many days after Geraint Thomas won the prologue.
“I had a lot of adrenaline after I punctured with 25km to go. When that happened the boys dropped back for me and did a fantastic job,” Wiggins said.
“Then in the final I was kind of on my own and marshaling everything and I just wanted to pay them back for everything they’d done, they were incredible,” he said. “I’ve got them to thank and it was really nice to be able to finish it off like that.”
“I went a bit early and had to sit down to rest for a bit and then went again but it was good to get the win,” he added. “I want to win Romandie, that’s for sure. I’ll take what I can every day and it’s really nice to win a sprint like this because normally I only ever really win time trials.”
Wiggins, whose main target is this year’s Tour de France title, was followed home in close attendance by Australia’s defending Tour de France champion Cadel Evans, who is seen as his main rival for that title.
It is expected to go down to the wire in Sunday’s time-trial.
Wiggins’s Sky team-mates Thomas and Mark Cavendish fared less well, with the former dropped on a climb up Haut de la Cote, while sprint ace Cavendish also had his energy sapped by the climb and left it to Wiggins to contest the final sprint.
Some did not even make the line as Russia’s former Tour of Spain and Tour of Italy champion Denis Menchov abandoned halfway through the stage.
Yesterday’s stage was due to leave from Montbeliard in France and is a 149.1km ride to Moutier in Switzerland which takes in, among other challenges, the 834m climb of La Caquerelle.