The 78th edition of the Tour de Suisse starts tomorrow and features a taxing parcours which will demand staying power. Here’s a quick preview of what’s in store for the riders.
- Tour de Suisse is run over nine stages starting as usual with a short time trial, this time beginning in beautiful Bellinzona.
- The highest point of the race arrives on only the second day, with the ascents of the Gotthard (2,093m), Furka (2,416m), Grimsel (2,177m) and Brunig (1,024m) passes.
- The fourth stage from Heiden to Ossingen is the flattest, albeit with a slight ramp to the finish line. Fans will be hoping for a head-to-head race between the sprinters. The following day should see a similar finish.
- Friday’s individual time trial is neither overly long nor technical but should further shake out the GC.
- The final stage’s concluding 27km climb to the Saas-Fee ski resort should decide who takes the overall.
- All 18 WorldTour teams will take part, plus four wild card teams (IAM, CCC Polsat, MTN-Qhubeka and Wanty-Groupe Gobert), each fielding eight riders.
- The overall leader wears a yellow jersey – what else!
- World champion Rui Costa, now with Lampre-Merida, has won back-to-back editions of the race. Could this be his first victory in the rainbow jersey?
Who to watch
Not everyone’s at the Criterium du Dauphine. The top five overall from last year – Rui Coste, Bauke Mollema, Roman Kreuziger, Thibaut Pinot and Matthias Frank – are back and you would expect them to figure highly again this year.
In particular, Rainbow Rui is still searching for that elusive first win in his world champion’s jersey and has the chance to make it three in a row in Switzerland. Frank, now with IAM, will be looking to repeat or better last year’s result, while Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) has a rare opportunity as team leader.
Looking to shine (again) on home soil is Michael Albasini, whose Orica-GreenEDGE team is having a fantastic season. Watch out too for double Vuelta stage winner Warren Barguil (Giant-Shimano) and former Tour winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky).
While the overall contenders are eyeing one another, some of the young guns might be able to make a name for themselves: in particular, Davide Formolo (Cannondale), Joe Dombrowski (Sky), Jon Izagirre (Movistar), Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) and Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka)
Wiggins, Fabian Cancellara (Trek), Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Alex Dowsett (Movistar) will be looking to lock handlebars and emerge victorious in the two time trials.
Both the Dauphine and here feature lumpy parcours with little respite for the sprinters but there are opportunities on stages four and five for the fast men who’ve turned out en masse, looking to rev their engines and score a few psychological points ahead of the joust for the green jersey in the Tour. The parcours favours riders such as John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano), Bryan Coquard (Europcar) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) ahead of Mark Cavendish (OPQS), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Heinrich Haussler (IAM).
Whatever happens, it’s going to be a great race with some spectacular scenery.
June 14th: Prologue – Bellinzona, 9.4km individual time trial.
June 15th: Stage 2 – Bellinzona to Sarnen, 181.8km.
June 16th: Stage 3 – Sarnen to Heiden, 202.9km.
June 17th: Stage 4 – Heiden to Ossingen, 160.4km.
June 18th: Stage 5 – Ossingen to Bueren A.D. Aare, 183.6km.
June 19th: Stage 6 – Bueren A.D. Aare to Delemont, 192.8km.
June 20th: Stage 7 – Worb, 24.5km individual time trial.
June 21st: Stage 8 – Delemont to Verbier, 219.1km.
June 22nd: Stage 9 – Martigny to Saas-Fee, 156.5km
Link: Official website