By David Hunter
Last chance to impress before the Tour de France. The organisers stick with a traditional route, with two ITTs, some sprint stages and tough mountain days.
We begin with an easy 10km ITT, a little leg opener for the tough week ahead.
This looks like a classic Suisse day to me, one where the sprinters think they have a chance but it’s actually a GC day.
This is a sprint stage and certain Peter Sagan will be looking to add to his 16 stage wins in this race.
We have a couple of lumps in the last 20km, but this should be one for the climbing sprinters.
With a lot of climbs in the opening 30k, the breakaway riders will sniff a chance to take a win. This is a tough stage to control, but the last chance for the sprinters to take a win.
The first of the big GC days, with a monster of a climb to finish. The easy day means everyone arrives fresh and then we’ll see who isn’t going to win the Tour de Suisse.
The finish climb to San Gottardo features around 5km of cobbles, which is going to make life very interesting for the fans, but I don’t think the climbers will be very pleased.
Another easy TT, this one is 19km long. Luckily it’s not the final stage, which makes things much more interesting.
We end with a monster day of climbing. The riders have to tackle three HC climbs, in just 125.5km of racing. With over 20km from the final climb to the finishing line, we’ll have to see just how big the front group is at the end of the stage.
Hugh Carthy – the revelation of the Giro! His performance in this race will depend on him holding that shape, which will be hard, but not impossible. In recent years we’ve seen a number of riders perform well at the Giro and also here, which will give the big man a lot of hope. He’ll love the mountain stages and would also hope to post good times in the TTs, this is a race where he could be challenging for the podium.
Enric Mas – his 2nd place in the Vuelta was one of the best performances of 2018. The QuickStep man, who is rumoured to be leaving the team, has followed that up with some consistent results this season. His race schedule has been relatively light, as the team look to protect him before the Tour de France. Like most riders who are here before the big race in July, this is a preparation race, but one where he’ll hope to do well in. He can climb and TT, making him a strong contender for the overall win.
Patrick Konrad – very solid Austrian rider who is searching for a big result. 2018 was a hugely consistent season for him, but he’s not been able to consistently hit that level in 2019. A strong Ardennes campaign would have given him confidence, and this is a big opportunity for him to continue Bora’s fine season. Despite all his good performances, the 27-year-old is still looking for his first pro win.
Geraint Thomas – Romandie was a massive step forward for the Tour de France champion, after a season of trying to get back in shape. His decision to throw himself into his media commitments, instead of training, is one I’ll never fully understand. This left him way out of shape at the start of 2019 and basically wrote off any chances he had of performing well until now. As I said, I just don’t understand why he did this. Anyway, he’s back in shape and looking to impress before the Tour. The route is good for him, especially with 29km of flat time trials. He has to start as the big favourite, especially with Egan Bernal as a helper in the mountains. It wouldn’t be a big surprise to see two Ineos men on the final podium.
Simon Špilak – the man who always performs well in Switzerland. In fact you could say, the man who only performs well in Switzerland! The Slovenian is a funny old rider, his performances often leave me feeling frustrated, I feel he should be performing at a higher level on a regular basis. This season he was 9th in Romandie, but his 6th place in California was a nice surprise. Expect to see the 2017 champion challenging for the podium.
Rui Costa – another rider who usually saves his best performances for Switzerland. The Portuguese rider was 2nd in the recent Tour de Romandie, riding extremely well all week. If he has managed to maintain that form, he will be one of the main riders in this race. His TT ability isn’t as strong as some, but he is capable of surprising in this discipline. He has a tremendous record in this race, winning it in 2012, 2013 and 2014. I expect to see him challenging for a fourth title.
Marc Soler – his season has yet to properly kick off, he was involved in that big crash in the final stage of Catalunya. On his day, Soler is one of the finest cyclists in the world, he just needs more opportunities to show it. The Spaniard is good in the mountains and a fine TT rider, which makes him a threat in this race. He’s here to prepare for the Tour, but this will be his opportunity to lead the team and try to post a big result.
Jan Hirt – after the season they’ve had, I need an Astana rider in this section. After riding the Giro in support of Lopez, Hirt should have freedom to chase personal glory in this race. He’s a very strong climber, but not the best against the clock.
Domenico Pozzovivo – was 4th here in 2017, a result he hopes to better in this edition. The little Italian was impressive in the Giro, riding in support of Vincenzo Nibali. He’ll be one of the strongest climbers in the race, but you can’t help thinking that the TTs will ruin his chances of taking the win.
Team Ineos to put on a big show and Geraint Thomas to take the win.
Remember I’ve now got a podcast too. Go and give it a listen
Follow us on @CiclismoInter
Join us on facebook: Ciclismo Internacional
Copyright © 2012-2019 Ciclismo Internacional. All Rights Reserved