Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) won the Tour de Romandie prologue today and answered his disappointment of Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the best way possible. In his post-race interview, he dedicated the victory to Michele Scarponi and a family close to him who went through a similar tragic situation.
“This victory is for Scarponi,” said Felline. “I also want to dedicate this to another family close to me who one week before Scarponi also went through the same situation. For me, the last 10 days have not been easy.”
Felline completed the wet 4.8-kilometre time trial in Aigle in a time of 5 minutes and 57 seconds, two seconds ahead of the day’s final starter Alex Dowsett (Movistar) and seven seconds quicker than Alexander Edmondson (Orica-Scott).
Felline was the 52nd rider to start, and after setting the fastest time at the intermediate split, he sprinted across the line at the top of the leaderboard. With still 100 riders to come, he settled into the hot seat for a long wait.
With most GC contenders not willing to risk on the slippery course, and others unable to match Felline’s strong performance, rider after rider failed to unseat the Italian, whose good form went unrewarded until today.
When Dowsett, the final rider to start and one favoured to win the short race against the clock, passed the intermediate point in the same time as Felline, the first day of Romandie turned into a nerve-wracking finish. However, Dowsett stopped the clock two seconds slower, and Felline celebrated his first win of the year.
“I never expected this victory,” continued Felline. “This is the biggest victory of this season for me, and I needed this win for a lot of reasons. It has been two months that I have always been in the front [of races], always with the good riders, but always I missed the results. This victory is for sure a good present for me, and for the team.”
“On Sunday a lot of people were asking me what I thought of the story of Scarponi and when I started Liège I thought maybe I could do a good result in his honour,” added Felline. “In the end, it was not Sunday; it was today.”