22-year-old David Gaudu is a former Tour de L'Avenir winner, a race that marks out future champions of the sport, and confirmed that status with his first WorldTour win in Stage 3 of the Tour of Romandie.
Gaudu accelerated off the front of a rapidly thinning peloton on the ramp up to the finish to take the victory ahead of Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma).
"I felt really good all day," said Gaudu after the finish. "In the final, the guys did a great job to position me over the last couple of climbs.
"When we brought Thomas De Gendt back and I felt I still had some power in the legs. At the foot of the final climb I was up in the front positions and as we went up I was feeling pretty strong.
"Coming out of the final bend I knew I had to go for it but I didn't overly believe I could do it. I said to myself: 'all the way to the line,' but thought that it wasn't possible, that'd I'd finish second, but in the end, it smiled on me."
Gaudu collected a ten-second time bonus on the finish line, putting him up to second overall, six seconds behind Roglic, with Costa third overall at eight seconds adrift. The Tour de Romandie will likely be decided in the coming two stages with the queen stage on Saturday and then a 16.8km time trial around Geneva to conclude the race.
Gaudu is not renowned as much of a time-triallist but was upbeat about a day in the mountains.
"Tomorrow is going to be hard and the weather won't be great either. The climb is pretty good and so we'll see what happens. I think I've got a couple of bullets left to fire. We'll see."
An early break including Australian Michael Storer (Team Sunweb) was given some leeway in the early stages of the race, but the sharp climbs peppered throughout the race ensured it would be a hrad day for everyone in the peloton or the early move.
A concerted chase by EF Education First brought the escapees back to heel with 17 kilometres left and the big teams battled to put their GC candidates in perfect position to start the final climb. The bumping and barging resulted in a crash, with Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) taking down Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) in the final few kilometres.
In the dash to the line all the favourites were positioned near the front but it was Gaudu who skipped away to the win.