Another Romandie podium for Aussie Dennis

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Rohan Dennis has retained his lead in the Tour de Romandie after the Australian star snatched a third podium finish in four days in Valbroye.

The Olympic time trial bronze medallist continued his excellent form in the 75th edition of the famous six-day Swiss race, getting into the sprint mix on the final uphill drag in Friday's 165.1km third stage to snatch third place and a valuable four bonus seconds.

Dennis was no match, though, for New Zealander Pat Bevin, who comfortably won the massed sprint finish with an unstoppable late surge which also thrust him to second overall in the race, just 14 seconds behind his trans-Tasman colleague.

Adelaide's Jumbo-Visma rider, who secured the lead with two runner's up finishes in both the prologue time trial and Wednesday's opening stage, is set for a potentially decisive and demanding penultimate day in the Alps in Saturday's fourth stage from Aigle to Val d'Anniviers.

It's such a demanding stage - one for the pure climbers - that Jumbo-Visma's sports director Merijn Zeeman shrugged: "The fact that Rohan rode a good sprint and took some bonus seconds is particularly clever.

"(But) in my opinion, Rohan is still an underdog in the general classification because of what is to come."

It was another good day, too, for Ethan Hayter, the Briton who won both the prologue and Thursday's second stage, as he came home second in Valbroye, beaten only by the power of Israel-Premier Tech rider Bevin.

Ineos Grenadiers' Hayter also leads the points classification, with Dennis lying second and Bevin third.

Elsewhere in Europe as teams continued to hone their preparations for the first grand tour of the year, the Giro d'Italia, which begins on May 6 in Budapest, the Australian outfit BikeExchange-Jayco enjoyed a fine start in their quest to win the three-day Vuelta Asturias race in Spain.

Simon Yates, the British star who'll lead their challenge at the Giro, roared up the final climb in Pola de Lena, taking off about a kilometre from the summit and then maintaining his advantage on the flat run-in to win the opening stage by 14 seconds.

"The sensations are good, and the legs responded very well," said Yates.

"Tomorrow is the Queen stage, and it would be nice to be able to win again, also because my goal remains to win the overall."

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