Wiggins a surprise sprinter at Romandie

Bradley Wiggins, Team Sky, Tour de Romandie, cycling
Bradley Wiggins (C) sprints to a stage victory at the Tour de Romandie (AAP Images)

Bradley Wiggins donned the overall leader's yellow jersey after winning the 184.5km first stage of the Tour de Romandie.

I want to win Romandie, that's for sure. I'll take what I can every day and it's really nice to win a sprint like this because normally I only ever really win time-trials.

The 31-year-old winner of the Paris-Nice stage race earlier this season, overcame a puncture 25km from the finish to get back into contention and then launched himself into a decisive sprint 400m from the line.

Despite an early break involving Martin Kohler (BMC Racing), Kenny De Haes (Lotto-Belisol), Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun) and Angelo Tulik (Europcar) the race came down to the final 14km.

There a series of attacks were controlled by Sky and then by Wiggins inside the final 2km.

He had enough strength left to resist a late attack by Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Paolo Tiralongo (Astana ) to take the stage and give Sky their second win in as many days after Geraint Thomas won the prologue.

"I had a lot of adrenaline after I punctured with 25k to go. When that happened the boys dropped back for me and did a fantastic job," said Wiggins. "Then in the final I was kind of on my own and marshalling everything and I just wanted to pay them back for everything they'd done, they were incredible.

"I've got them to thank and it was really nice to be able to finish it off like that. I went a bit early and had to sit down to rest for a bit and then went again but it was good to get the win.

"I want to win Romandie, that's for sure. I'll take what I can every day and it's really nice to win a sprint like this because normally I only ever really win time-trials."

Wiggins, whose main target is this year's Tour de France, was followed home in close attendance by Australia's defending Tour de France champion Cadel Evans, who is seen as his main rival for this title. Evans is 21sec off Wiggins's general classification lead.

It is expected to go down to the wire in Sunday's final time-trial.

Wiggins's team-mates Thomas and Mark Cavendish were causalities of the hard pace with the former dropped on a climb up Haut de la Cote while Cavendish also slowed leaving it to Wiggins to contest the final sprint.

The stage saw Vuelta a Espana and Giro d'Italia champion Denis Menchov (Katusha) abandon halfway to La Chaux-de-Fonds.

The second stage leaves from Montbeliard in France and is a 149.1km ride to Moutier in Switzerland and takes in the 834m climb of La Caquerelle which will feature in this year's eighth stage of the Tour de France.

Stage 1: 184.5km, Morges to La Chaux-de-Fonds.
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Sky 4hr 50min 23sec
2 Lieuwe Westra (NED) Vacansoleil-DCM
3 Paolo Tiralongo (ITA) Astana
4 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC
5 Maciej Paterski (POL) Liquigas-Cannondale
6 Vasil Kiryienka (BLR) Movistar
7 Serge Pauwels (BEL) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
8 Daniele Pietropolli (ITA) Lampre-ISD
9 Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) Garmin-Barracuda
10 Pieter Weening (NED) GreenEDGE

General classification:
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBR) Sky 4hr 53min 51sec
2 Michael Rogers (AUS) Sky 0:00:07
3 Bauke Mollema (NED) Rabobank 0:00:09
4 Stef Clement (NED) Rabobank
5 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Barracuda 0:00:11
6 Wilco Kelderman (NED) Rabobank
7 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Barracuda 0:00:12
8 Simon Spilak (SLO) Katusha
9 Molina Ruben Plaza (SPA) Movistar
10 Tiago Machado (POR) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:13

Australians:
31 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC 0:00:21
54 Allan Davis (Aus) GreenEDGE 0:00:27
57 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky 0:00:28

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