The 68th edition of the Tour de Romandie starts today and features a host of grand tour contenders. Here’s a quick preview of what to expect.
- Tour of Romandie is run over six days starting with a straightforward lakeside prologue around Ascona and finishing on Sunday with an individual lakeside time trial in Neuchatel.
- The race’s traditional queen stage (three) finishes in Aigle, home to cycling’s governing body, the UCI, but only after tackling four steep climbs. This and the individual time trial are most likely to be the decisive stages for the overall, possibly preserving the excitement until the last day.
- Stage one features a category one climb midway but, more crucially, a category two 19km before the finish.
- The sprinters will be looking forward to stage two with its downhill finish into Montreux and, maybe, stage four’s six-lap undulating circuit around Freiburg. Although the official website says it favours baroudeurs with des fourmis dans les jambes – ants in their pants!
- All 18 WorldTour teams will take part, plus Swiss ProContinental squad, IAM Cycling. Each team has eight riders.
- The last three winners of the race have gone on to win the Tour de France that year: Cadel Evans, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.
- The overall leader wears a yellow jersey. Last year Froome wore it from start to finish after victory in the opening prologue.
Who to watch
Eyes will turn inevitably to last year’s winner Chris Froome (Sky) who, thanks to injury and illness, is not enjoying such a stellar start to this season. Let us hope that he’s thrown off his chest infection and turns up raring to race along with Tour wing-man Richie Porte, who’s also been out of sorts.
Last year’s third-placed man Rui Costa, now with Lampre-Merida, has picked up a string of top five places but Rainbow Rui’s still looking for that big win in the world champion’s jersey. Simon Spilak (Katusha) was second last year but is another rider whose form has yet to ape that of last season. Maybe their luck will turn here.
If not, there are plenty of others ready and willing to step into their shoes, specifically young guns Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) and Strade Bianche winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). No doubt Kwiatkowski’s team-mate Tony Martin is eyeing the individual time trial after posting his first victories of the season at Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
We should also look at Tour de France riders Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale), third at Pais Vasco after a fine final time trial and, ninth in the same event, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ). Others, like Ivan Basso (Cannondale) are using this event to fine-tune their form for the rapidly approaching Giro d’Italia.
Given the parcours, sprinters are fairly thin on the ground but Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) will go up against Movistarlet Juan Jose Lobato and Belkin’s Moreno Hofland. Those aside we have a whole parcel of riders who will regard stage wins as fair game such as tongue-twisting Tommy Voeckler (Europcar) and the evergreen Jens Voigt (Trek). Whatever happens, it’s likely to be another entertaining race.
April 29th: Prologue – Ascona to Ascona, 5.57km
April 30th: Stage 1 – Ascona to Sion, 203.6km
May 1st: Stage 2 – Sion to Montreux, 166.5km
May 2nd: Stage 3 – Le Bouveret to Aigle, 180.2km
May 3rd: Stage 4 – Fribourg to Fribourg, 174km
May 4th: Stage 5 – Neuchatel to Neuchatel, 18.5km individual time trial
Daily live coverage and highlights will be shown by Sky Sports 2 in the UK. For other coverage check cyclingfans.com and steephill.tv.
Link: Official website