Bradley Wiggins produced a sensational ride to claim overall victory at the Tour de Romandie after winning the final stage time trial.
The Brit secured his second stage race victory of the year by 12 seconds after battling back from a mechanical issue out on course, replicating his success at Paris-Nice.
Despite briefly dropping his chain at the beginning of the climb at Crans-Montana, Wiggins regrouped to set the fastest time at the intermediate split and clock a final time of 28 minutes and 56 seconds.
That time was seven tenths of a second quicker than rival Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Barracuda) with Richie Porte rounding out the podium places on the day, 16 seconds back.
Earlier Porte had smashed the best benchmark up to that point, an effort which moved him up to fourth on the overall classification after a selfless week working in service of Wiggins.
Michael Rogers also capped an impressive race with seventh on the day, good enough for fifth on GC to ensure not only a glut of WorldTour points, but the race’s team classification.
A triumphant Wiggins took to the podium alongside Talansky and Rui Costa (Movistar), the Portuguese rider pulling out a great ride to edge Porte off the podium by nine seconds.
With two stages wins already in the bag heading into Sunday, the final victory was a fitting reward for the team who had spent much of the six-day event on the front of the peloton on behalf of yellow jersey holders Geraint Thomas and Wiggins.
A tight edition of the race, 34 riders began the final day within 40 seconds of the race lead in what had been a tough peloton to control for world champion Mark Cavendish, Chris Froome, Danny Pate, Porte, Rogers, Kanstantsin Siutsou and Thomas.
After emptying the tank out on the course a happy Wiggins confirmed: “It’s really nice to finish it off in a time trial on the last day for the boys. All week they’ve been incredible – it doesn’t matter how strong you are as an individual, without those team-mates this week I wouldn’t be in this position.
“What a team we’ve had here this week; you know you’re in a great team when you’ve got the world champion riding for you on the front.”
A late birthday present after turning 32 on Saturday, Wiggins also paid tribute to how far he has come as a rider, revealing about the course: “It was a true test of a GC rider; it had a bit of everything in it plus a mechanical for myself. I’m pleased with the way I handled that moment because a few years ago I might have thrown my toys out of the pram and chucked my bike down the ravine! It was a good test for the bigger races coming up and I’m delighted.
“I think [this year] is a result of the hard work I’ve put in this winter. I’ve really grafted at it and hopefully there’s more to come.”
After the race Team Principal Dave Brailsford was full of praise for the way the team has worked together collectively.
He said: “Obviously Bradley is now demonstrating that he can perform at the highest level in these races, but I think more importantly, from my perspective, is I’m interested in how the overall team performs. Not just the riders but the backroom staff. I’m very pleased with the week in Switzerland.
“We’ve had a flawless performance on the bike. People don’t see it but it’s becoming a well-oiled machine both on the road and off the road. That’s very pleasing and people are really starting to establish themselves in their roles.
“The other key thing was that there was a lot of discussion pre-race about Bradley and Mark riding together. Obviously that has been a positive and I think when you see Mark riding on the front up a second category climb it tells you more than any words can.”
As the stage began, eighth man down the ramp Froome attacked the 16.24-kilometre course to lay down a benchmark time of 30:41 on what has been an impressive return from illness in Switzerland.
With that time eventually pipped by two seconds by Nelson Oliveira (RadioShack-Nissan), Gustav Erik Larsson was the first man under the half-hour mark but was bettered shortly after by Vacansoleil-DCM team-mate Thomas De Gendt who put in a time of 29’ 50”.
With the top names opting to run a regular road bike with clip-on extensions, a tough course which climbed up steeply ensured a tough day all round.
Wiggins sent pulses racing as he was forced to dismount shortly into his ride, losing a few seconds dropping the chain as he hit the early ramps on the climb.
Overnight race leader Luis Leon Sanchez looked to be struggling from early in the stage, yet with new rivals emerging in Talansky and Costa, the Brit had to dig deep, eventually replicating the result of compatriot Robert Millar – the last man to win when the race visited Crans-Montana in 1984.