Australia's Michael Matthews celebrates on the podium after the prologue, a 4km race against the clock at the 72th Tour de Romandie UCI ProTour in Fribourg, Switzerland.
Australia's Michael Matthews celebrates on the podium after the prologue, a 4km race against the clock at the 72th Tour de Romandie UCI ProTour in Fribourg, Switzerland. JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT

Matthews hits straps in opening stage of Tour de Romandie

AUSTRALIA'S Michael Matthews has won the opening Tour of Romandie prologue for his first victory of the season.

Matthews (Team Sunweb) was one second faster than Swiss rider Tom Bohli (BMC Racing) in the 4km time trial around Fribourg, with Slovenia's Primoz Roglic third and fellow Australian Rohan Dennis (BMC) fourth.

Australian defending champion Richie Porte, riding for BMC, finished 18th, 14 seconds behind Matthews..

After a stellar 2017, when he won two Tour de France stages and the green jersey as most consistent finisher, 24-year-old Matthews had a relatively low-key European spring season after fracturing his shoulder in his first race.

Fifth placings at Milan-San Remo and last week's Fleche Wallone suggested he was finding form, and a late puncture cruelled his Amstel Gold race earlier this month.

The Team Sunweb rider told Swiss broadcaster RTS it was a "massive relief" to get his first win.

"I gave it my best and it was enough to get the win," Matthews said.

"It was a really beautiful course. In the recon I thought it was a maybe a little bit sketchy, but it was fine - I had a lot of fun out there today.

"I've always watched this race. I started in 2013 and got sick after the first time trial, so this is pretty much my first time in the Tour of Romandie and I'm stoked to get the win on the first stage."

The six-day race through Switzerland's French-speaking region continues with a 166-km ride from Fribourg to Delemont. It includes three category two climbs.

- AP



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