Team BikeExchange setup Smith for top-10 finish on Tour of Romandie stage one

Kiwi sprinter Dion Smith was in the mix for a top-10 finish as stage one of the Tour de Romandie came down to a bunch kick into Martigny.

Team BikeExchange took the initiative on the final lap of the 168km stage as they pushed the tempo over the final climbs and onto the valley roads. The increase in tempo saw the breakaway reeled back in a split open up in the peloton, with a number of sprinters distanced.

Tsgabu Grmay and Brent Bookwalter continued to push the pace while Damien Howson neutralised a short-lived attack off the front inside the final 10km to go. Smith was left to surf the wheels as the finish line approached, with the 28-year-old battling to seventh place in a messy sprint won by Peter Sagan.

Dion Smith:
“We did everything that we said we were going to do at the start of the day, we had good positioning into the climbs with myself and Lucas [Hamilton], we nailed it and I wasn’t any further back than the top-20 or 30 every lap, so I saved a lot of energy.

Coming into the sprint I was on a good wheel and in a good position, I think I just stepped out a little too early into the head wind with about 200 metres to go. I felt good in the sprint and I felt like I held my position, if not gained on some guys close to the line.

I can be happy with how I’m sprinting, and I felt good on the climbs. I came into the race pretty fresh, so I wasn’t sure how the legs were going to be, but the boys rode really well and looked after me and Lucas all day.”

Julian Dean (Sports Director):
“Of course when you’re lining up for a sprint you always expect to win a sprint and we’ve been fighting hard in these last few races for Dion and seventh is good, he’s right there and we’ll try and go a bit better next time.

Today was really a race for the sprinters and the team did well, they had everything covered and it was really important that they had Lucas and Dion in good position on the climbs every time.

We had moves covered at the finish with Damo, so we did everything right up until the finish, so all the signs are there that tomorrow we’re going to be able to do things well again.”  

2021 Tour de Romandie Stage One – Result:
1. Peter Sagan 4:12:40
2. Sonny Colbrelli ST
3. Patrick Bevan ST
7. Dion Smith (Team BikeExchange) ST

2021 Tour de Romandie – GC:
1. Rohan Dennis 4:18:16
2. Geraint Thomas +0:09
3. Richie Porte ST
43. Damien Howson (Team BikeExchange) +0:29

Photo Courtesy of Getty Sport.