Jonathan Castroviejo takes prologue at 2011 Tour de Romandie

  • By John Wilcockson
  • Published Apr. 26, 2011
  • Updated Apr. 27, 2011 at 10:57 AM EDT

Jonathan Castroviejo was as surprised as anyone to take the victory. Photo: Graham Watson |

MARTIGNY, Switzerland (VN) — Finishing his time trial at 6:30 p.m., just as the sun dipped behind the alpine peaks to the west of Martigny, Euskaltel-Euskadi’s Jonathan Castroviejo scored a huge upset victory in the prologue of the 65th Tour de Romandie on Tuesday.

His time of 3:40.42 for the technical 3km circuit put BMC Racing’s Taylor Phinney into second place by just 0.27 second, with HTC-Highroad’s Leigh Howard in third, another half-second back.

The closeness of the result was a reflection of how the top three took the eight separate turns on a flat street course through this small Swiss town.

“My teammates said it was all about taking risks in the corners,” said Castroviejo, whose 24th birthday is Wednesday. “It was a very demanding course. You had to really visualize what you had to do.”

Phinney, who was making his return to racing after knee problems and hitting his head in a training crash, said when he completed what looked like being the fastest time of the day: “That hurt! But it was too short to think about anything. I thought the turns on the cobbled section were going to be dangerous, but I went full tilt through there. It’s just a genetic thing: My dad (Davis Phinney) likes corners too.”

Phinney didn’t blame his performance on his lack of racing, saying, “This is the type of distance I do well at.” But while the 20-year-old U.S. time trial champion had been sitting out for a month, Castroviejo started seven spring classics, his best result being 12th at the GP Cerami; he didn’t finish at The Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix or Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

While Howard, 21, was just beaten, he knows why. Talking to VeloNews right after his effort, earlier in the evening, the multi-time world track champion said, “I almost crashed on the second-last corner. I clipped my pedal on the road and my back wheel went in the air. That could be the difference in winning or not.” He was right.

Taylor Phinney en route to second in the prologue at the 2011 Tour of Romandie. Photo: Graham Watson |

This was Castroviejo’s first win as a professional, but he came close last year, with second place in a TT stage of the Tour of Asturias, and fifth at Spain’s national TT championship. Despite the brevity of Tuesday’s prologue (a sharp turn on cobblestones was cut from the original course to make it 500 meters shorter) only four men finished within three seconds of the Basque race leader: Phinney, Howard, Team RadioShack’s Geoffrey Lequatre and Garmin-Cervélo’s David Millar.

The best of the pre-race GC favorites were Astana’s Alexander Vinokourov (ninth at four seconds), Saxo Bank-SunGard’s Richie Porte (15th at six seconds) and BMC’s Cadel Evans (25th at eight seconds). The Aussie veteran also missed a month of racing due to a banged-up knee. HTC’s Tony Martin was 35th at nine seconds, Astana’s Roman Kreuziger 50th at 11 seconds, and defending champ Simon Spilak of Lampre-ISD was 53rd in the same second.

Castroviejo said he was looking forward to defending his yellow jersey on Wednesday’s opening road stage of 172.6km between Martigny and Leysin, which features three significant climbs and an uphill finish.

“I still have to improve my climbing,” the Euskaltel rider admitted, “but this win has given me confidence.”

Stage heads north from Martigny on the flat valley road, climbs away from Lake Geneva at Montreux and passes though the Gruyère cheese region, to end with two Cat. 1 climbs in the final 30km. The ramp to the line in the ski resort of Leysin is just over 7km long, starting with a near-10-percent first kilometer and averaging just 4 percent the rest of the way.

It’s just the type of finish that will suit those who did well at last week’s Giro del Trentino and the Ardennes classics, including Astana teammates Kreuziger and Vinokourov and Saxo Bank’s Chris Anker Sørensen.

Quick results

  • 1. Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Esp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 3:40
  • 2. Taylor Phinney (USA), BMC Racing Team, same time
  • 3. Leigh Howard (Aus), HTC-Highroad, at 0:01
  • 4. Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra), Team RadioShack, at 0:02
  • 5. David Millar (Gbr), Garmin-Cervélo, at 0:02


  • 1. Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Esp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, 3:40
  • 2. Taylor Phinney (USA), BMC Racing Team, at 0:00
  • 3. Leigh Howard (Aus), HTC-Highroad, at 0:01
  • 4. Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra), Team RadioShack, at 0:02
  • 5. David Millar (Gbr), Garmin-Cervélo, at 0:02

Complete results

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