'Unbelievably beautiful' Dennis climbs closer to Tour de Romandie title

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Rohan Dennisin the Tour de Romandie overall leader's jersey (AFP/Fabrice COFFRINI) (Fabrice COFFRINI)

Australia's Rohan Dennis is on the verge of delivering his first title for Jumbo-Visma after emerging from a mammoth Swiss mountain slog with the overall lead in the Tour de Romandie on Saturday as diminutive Colombian climber Sergio Higuita won the stage.

The double time-trial world champion Dennis can look ahead to Sunday's individual time-trial with confidence of taking the Tour if he can produce his usual form on the 15.8km run up a constant incline with 875m altitude gain.

Jumbo sports director Merijn Zeeman expressed delight at how the team tactics had gone in the race, and with his close-season signing Dennis's performance in the mountains.

"It is unbelievably beautiful to see how Rohan holds up among the best climbers," Zeeman said.

"Tomorrow we will do everything to win the Tour de Romandie with Rohan," he added.

Three Jumbo riders chaperoned Dennis before he climbed the upper reaches of the final mountain alongside teammate and climb specialist Steven Kruijswick to finish just three seconds behind a group of ten riders who crossed the line in 4hr 58min 52sec.

Higuita of Bora-Hansgrohe was followed over the line by Aleksandr Vlasov and Juan Ayoso, with Ben O'Connor and Thibaut Pinot rounding out the top five.

In the overall standings, Ayoso trails by just 15sec, with Vlasov third at 18sec and O'Connor at 25, so any slip from Dennis will likely be punished.

The 31-year-old Dennis joined Jumbo from Ineos in December after helping them to the Giro in 2020, after a brief tenure at Bahrain in 2019 where he was considered a potential Grand Tour contender.

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