Australians Michael Rogers and Richie Porte upset the leader board in the third stage of Tour de Romandie on Friday, as Porte sped to surprise stage win while Rogers took over the yellow jersey.
Porte, a former triathlete, left second-placed Alejandro Valverde, one of the race favourites, 26 seconds behind in the 23.4 km time trial.
Rogers took over the overall lead after finishing fourth behind Russian Vladimir Karpets.
Porte took advantage of changing weather at the western Swiss town of Moudon as rain showers moved in.
“I can’t believe it, I was 30 seconds down on some pretty big names after the check but the wind must have changed,” the Tasmanian said afterwards “It’s a massive surprise for me. I crashed in the prologue on the first corner but I knew I had good form.”
The changes in the overall standings sets the stage for a thrilling weekend of racing over the mountains.
Valverde was just two seconds behind Rogers in the overall standings, followed by a Russian trio of Karpets, Artem Ovetschkin and Denis Menchov, the reigning Tour of Spain champion. Porte is seventh 17 seconds behind the leader.
The stage marked a big setback for the Liquigas steam, which had dominated the race until Friday.
Peter Sagan lost the yellow jersey and was far behind, along with Italy’s former Giro d’Italia winner Ivan Basso and the 2009 Tour de Romandie winner Roman Kreuziger.
British rider Mark Cavendish, of the HTC-Columbia team, meanwhile issued an apology Friday for the defiant, two-finger gesture that accompanied his victory on stage two.
“I did want to make a statement to my critics but I realise that making a rude gesture on the finish line is not the best way to do that,” said Cavendish.
“I apologise to everybody watching the race and especially the kids. I am not proud of releasing the feelings in that way.
“I hope I can redeem myself and show my feelings and passion for cycling with some exciting results in the next couple of months rather than with gestures such as the one yesterday.”
© AFP 2010
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