Cycling: Castroviejo gets in gear for an early birthday gift
Unheralded Spaniard Jonathan Castroviejo celebrated his 24th birthday a day early by surging to victory in the opening Tour de Romandie prologue yesterday.
The Euskaltel rider's gamble to speed up at the twists and turns during the 3.5km race paid off as he beat track specialists Taylor Phinney of the US and Australia's Leigh Howard with a time of 3:40.42.
Phinney trailed by just 0.27 of a second, with Nicolas Roche in 28th position for the AG2R La Mondiale team 8.13 seconds behind the leader.
"I've always been solid in time trials but I certainly did not expect to win," said Castroviejo.
"My team mates who started before me said this race would be won in the turns and I took lots of risks to be faster in the curves and it paid off.
"For me and for the team, our goals on this Tour de Romandie have already been achieved. The rest will just be bonus."
Twice pursuit world champion, Phinney (20) had been favourite for the prologue despite returning from an injury lay-off but his speed and skills were not enough to beat Castroviejo.
Briton David Millar, who finished fifth, was the only seasoned rider to finish in the top five.
Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov was ninth, but Giro d'Italia holder Ivan Basso struggled and finished 16 seconds off the pace.