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Cadel Evans off the pace on his return

Australia's big guns had mixed fortunes in the first stage of the Tour of Romandie, with Michael Rogers holding down fourth spot but Cadel Evans languishing in 80th.

Britain's 2008 Olympic team pursuit track cycling champion Geraint Thomas won the prologue on Tuesday, while Evans finished 20 seconds off the pace.

Last year's Tour de France winner was returning to racing after missing some one-day spring classic events due to sinus problems and failed to cope with the driving rain.

Thomas, who earlier this month collected a third track cycling world title in the team pursuit, handled the weather better than the conditions defending champion Evans encountered on the 3.34km course as he clocked a time of 3min 29.43sec.

The 25-year-old Sky rider - whose most notable road race win was in the Tour of Bavaria last year - edged out Italy's Giacomo Nizzolo and fellow Briton Mark Cavendish for first place.

With Rogers' fourth, Team Sky were left celebrating three riders in the top four and Thomas was delighted with the start made to the six-day event.


"It's a nice little win," Thomas said on "The team told me I was racing here about 10 days ago so it was great to come over. I always knew that I'd be up there."

Thomas insisted, however, that the wet Swiss conditions should not detract from his performance.

"Fortunately with the weather conditions it played into my hands a bit but there was only really one corner," he said. "There's only so much time you can lose in one corner."

Thomas, part of Britain's Olympic gold medal-winning track pursuit team in 2008, added that his focus for the rest of the week will be to support Cavendish and Wiggins in their respective battles.

"For myself now it's purely a team role," he said.

"I'll be there to help Cav in the sprints wherever they come and Bradley is going for the general classification as well, so I'll be there to help him wherever I can."