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A Week At Tour de Romandie

Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Zijlaard Yellow Jersey

Tour de Romandie is a special race for Tudor Pro Cycling. Not only because it is a race on home soil but also because it is where everything started. Two years ago, Tudor and Fabian Cancellara announced that they were partnering and launching a new Swiss Team on the day of the prologue. A year ago, the team took part in it for the first time. This year, the Team won the prologue and wore the yellow jersey for a day.

Tuesday 23 April – Prologue

“Cycling is good for the heart, waiting is not”

The 77th edition of the Tour de Romandie starts with a 2.3 km prologue in the streets of Payerne. The first race day on home soil this season is the perfect occasion for Tudor Pro Cycling to gather their partners for a few hours of presentations and discussions before a guided tour of the team’s race infrastructures and race watching.

Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Partners' Day

As announced during a press conference organised the previous day at the team hotel in Yverdon les Bains, the team has their eyes set on the prologue. In fact, Maikel Zijlaard is a powerful and skilled rider, able to perform well in such short and intense efforts. The 24-year-old Dutchman starts early in the afternoon and sets a great time, 3’’ up  the second fastest time.

Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Zijlaard Prologue

It is then the beginning of a long wait for the young rider, who most of the time takes on the role as last lead out man for Arvid De Kleijn. For two hours, Maikel sits in the hot seat and watches the race on a small screen behind the podium. Nervousness increases as time passes. “Cycling is good for the heart, waiting is not”, he says there before adding, that he is then “living the worst two hours of his life”.

Cameron Scott of Bahrain Victorious makes the tension go one level up when crossing the line 0’00’’9 behind Maikel who can eventually let his joy explode a few minutes later. He’s done it! By winning the prologue, he doesn’t only take his first pro victory, but also the first win of Tudor Pro Cycling in Switzerland, TT win and leader jersey at World Tour level. What a day!

Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Zijlaard Prologue Yellow Jersey

Back at the hotel, a glass is raised to celebrate the big day for the team. But everyone of the team is already getting ready for the first stage. “Tomorrow is another day”, as said by Head of Sports Ricardo Scheidecker.


Wednesday 24 April – 1st stage

“Allez Tudor!”

Rolling to the start line in Château d’Oex, Maikel is the center of  attention. Spectators, media, riders and staff of other teams, everyone congratulates him. “They were all happy for me and for the team”, he explains in the evening. “Even Fabian asked if he could take a picture with me (laughs). A few years ago, I asked him for a picture and now it is the other way around. It’s crazy!”

Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Zijlaard Prologue Yellow Jersey

Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Zijlaard Prologue Yellow Jersey

Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Zijlaard Cancellara Yellow Jersey
Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Zijlaard Yellow Jersey

The team takes his responsibilities in the first part of the race and rides at the front to protect Maikel and sprinter Alberto Dainese. Unfortunately, Maikel can’t hold the high pace in a climb with 90km to go and rides to the finish in the grupetto. “I knew it would be tough to keep the yellow jersey. I am not a climber, and the stage was not easy. But I had a great day anyway and I heard so many “Allez Tudor!”. People start recognizing us, it’s great.”

Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Zijlaard Yellow Jersey


Thursday 25 April – 2nd stage

“Maikel crashed out”

171km and 2’730m of climbing are on today’s menu. The first mountain stage with a finish at 1’000m of altitude arriving in the backyard of Sébastien Reichenbach. The experienced rider, who is riding his 9th Tour de Romandie, rode the last climb with Yannis a few days earlier. His prediction ahead of the stage is right: a large group with all GC contenders speeds up the climb and sprints to the line. The only difference is that three riders from the breakaway managed to keep a small advantage and sprint for the win.

Yannis and youngster Marco Brenner finish in the leaders’ group and position themselves in 9th and 19th position in the general classification.

Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Yannis Voisard

This would have been a perfect day for the team if it wasn’t for the message shared within the team a couple of hours earlier. “Maikel crashed out. He is taken to hospital to have his elbow checked”. The diagnosis comes later that day: the first yellow jersey of the race broke his left elbow. He needs surgery and will be out of racing for eight weeks.


Friday 26 April – 3rd stage

“It’s the perfect moment to treat myself with a new watch”

While the riders were having breakfast and the staff is already busy setting up the warm-up area for the time trial in Oron, Maikel Zijlaard is waiting to be driven to Basel. His surgery is planned for the following day at Crossklinik. He’s down but remains optimistic: “That’s how it is. It is disappointing of course to leave the race like this but I want to look at the bright side of things: my win in the prologue, a day in yellow and what it means for the team.” Scrolling on his phone, he adds: “It’s the perfect moment to treat myself with a new watch. I have time to look into it now.”

The 15.5km TT in Oron is crucial for the general classification where Yannis is sitting in 9th position. The goal of the day is clear: “Keep in the Top 10”. The rider from Jura knows the course well. He went there the week before the race and rode it multiple times while the fields were covered with snow: “It is a challenging course that suits the climbers more than the TT specialists. I really like it and I am very motivated to do well.”

After a last recon on the day together with Fabian Cancellara in the follow car, everything is set. The rain appears in the afternoon and makes the fast downhill even more technical. Taking risks - “I really pushed the limits in the downhills. I even lost control of my back wheel in the first corner of the last climb” - Yannis manages a very good time trial and remains in 9th position in the general classification ahead of the decisive last mountain stage.

Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Yannis Voisard


Saturday 27 April – 4th stage

“Je suis au bout de ma vie“ („I’m done“)

Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Reichenbach

The sun is shining at the start in Saillon and spirits are high. Local rider Sébastien Reichenbach enjoys extra attention from the crowd and the media. Tactics are clear. “The entire team will work for Yannis today.”, explains Sports Director Sylvain Blanquefort. “We want to bring him to the best position at the bottom of the last climb.”

Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned. Yannis struggles to keep up with the pace in the first pass going up to Ovronnaz. He must push hard in the downhill and on the flat to catch the leading group. “From then on I knew it would be a tough day.”, explains Yannis after the finish line. “I was actually surprised, that I could keep up with the leaders for the first half of the last climb. I saw Séb (Reichenbach) and told him he shouldn’t wait for me. I had cramps and gave it all. I am really done.”

Yannis crossed the finish line in 27th position, dropping to 22nd in the general classification.

Despite the disappointment, he must fulfill race obligations. He remains the best Swiss rider in the race and is congratulated on the podium before heading to the live studio of the Swiss National TV who followed the team the entire week. “Recovery was not optimal after the time trial yesterday. It is learning the hard way, but it is also experience, that will help me in the future.”

Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Yannis Voisard
Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Yannis Voisard

Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Yannis Voisard
Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Yannis Voisard RTS


Sunday 28 April – 5th stage

“I am very happy with the way the team rode!”

Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Alberto Dainese

One man in the team had been very quiet until now. Italian rider Alberto Dainese is anyway a discreet man, who knows how to fly under the radar. The Tour de Romandie wasn’t on the race program of the sprinter at the beginning of the year. His crash in early February turned things upside down and it was decided that the Swiss race would be a perfect preparation for the Giro d’Italia.

The last stage finishing in the suburbs of Geneva looks like a good opportunity for the sprinters and Alberto climbed every mountain pass this week with that in mind. But racing is no exact science and Alberto missed the chance to sprint for the win.

Yannis climbs a last time on the podium as best Swiss rider finishing the race in 22nd position in the general classification: “It’s nice to be up there on the podium but I can't be satisfied with finishing best Swiss. That would be counterproductive.”

Tour de Romandie Tudor Pro Cycling Yannis Voisard

A few hundred meters away, packing is in full swing at the team paddock and riders are driven to the airport and train station. For Sylvain Blanquefort, Sports Director, it is time to assess: “We had a perfect start in Payerne, and that was for sure the highlight of the week for the Team. The three following days were also great with good performances of Yannis in the first mountain stage and TT. The last two days were more challenging for us: Yannis got sick, and we couldn’t sprint for the win here in Geneva. But I am very happy with the way the team rode. All riders were devoted to the team, which was great to see. Marco did very well too. He struggled in the second last stage but wanted to take his revenge today and was part of the breakaway. All in all, it was a positive week for the team with new learnings for the future.”

Talking about the future, the next races are coming very soon with GP Frankfurt on Wednesday 1 May and Giro d’Italia on Saturday 4 May.


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