Tour de Romandie 2021 – Overall preview

By David Hunter

The spring classics are over, off to Switzerland we go. The next period on the calendar is all about preparing for the Giro or Tour, but the races themselves are very important, they won’t be used as a simple training ride. Romandie has attracted fewer Giro riders compared to usual, most decided to race the Tour of the Alps instead. The race is the usual mix of climbs, tough sprint stages and TTs.

Prologue

3.1km of flat, then 900m at 7.8%. This is a cracking looking prologue, and it seems like an age since we had a prologue in any race. Many riders will fancy their chances of winning this one, not just TT riders. The top 10 could be a beautiful mix of sprinters, puncheurs, climbers and TT riders.

Stage 1

The first proper road stage is likely to end in a sprint. The lap circuit does contain two climbs, but we’re only talking about 2000m of climbing in the day. The final climb crests with just over 20km to go, this should be a day for the fast men.

Stage 2

A GC day, but not one where we should see big gaps. The cat 1 climb near the end is hard, but it crests with 17km to go. We should see a select group of GC riders fighting it out for the stage win.

Stage 3

There are a couple of steep climbs in the lap circuit, and as the final hill crests with under 10km to go, it’s likely going to be too hard for the fast men. This means it could well be a good day for the breakaway.

Stage 4

Thyon 2000 is a beast of a climb, 20km at 7.3%. The stage contains over 4000m of climbing, this is a hugely demanding day, and we’ll see big gaps on GC.

Stage 5

The race ends with a 16.2km ITT. After just 2km the riders have to take on a rather horrible, cobbled climb, I can’t actually remember the last time I saw a cobbled climb in a TT. I wonder if we’ll see the riders start on a road bike and jump onto their TT bikes at the top of the climb. The rest of the route is rolling, this looks like a great TT.

Weather

Lots of rain, the Giro riders were right to skip this one.

Contenders

Geraint Thomas – Catalunya was a very positive step in the right direction for the Welshman. Since that point he’s spent a long period at altitude, and he arrives here as he prepares for the Tour. Thomas is due to start the Tour as team leader, he could really do with a big performance here to settle the nerves. The route is very good for him, he should be one of the men to beat.

Richie Porte – 2nd in Catalunya, he could well be fighting Thomas for the win here. To have the two strongest riders in the race gives Ineos a massive advantage in this race. We’ll have to see how they work it on the road, but I would imagine both riders will be protected and fight for the win. Catalunya showed that there isn’t much between Porte and Thomas, it could well come down to the final TT.

Ion Izagirre – the Astana man is here and looking to challenge for the win. He was 3rd in Paris-Nice and won a stage in the Basque Country, his form is impressive. The route is good for him, he’s better than most climbers on his TT bike. It will be very hard to beat the Ineos boys, but he should be fighting for the podium.

Jack Haig – we’ve not seen the best of him in a Bahrain jersey, but I think it’s coming. He’s a solid contender for the top 10, maybe top 5 if he’s going really well.

Wilco Kelderman – 5th in Catalunya was a great start to his Bora career, but it was a shame he crashed out of the Basque Country. He looked good enough in the Ardennes, so I think he should be fine to challenge in this race. Good on the climbs, very good on his TT bike, he should be up there in the big stages.

Steven Kruijswijk – another rider who could do with a result. 2020 really didn’t go to plan for him, he crashed out of the Dauphiné and had to miss the Tour. He then went to the Giro, but the team had to pull out due to COVID. This year hasn’t been great, but he should now be at a level where he can contend in a race like this. He’ll be supported by Sepp Kuss in the mountains, I’m hoping to see him back to his best.

Lucas Hamilton – 4th in Paris-Nice and 10th in Catalunya, the young Aussie has started the season in good form. Adam Yates and Jack Haig leaving the team has opened some doors for Hamilton, he’s a rider the bosses at BikeExchange have a lot of faith in. He is a very solid climber, but he needs to improve his TT if he wants to challenge in the biggest races.

Miguel Ángel López – first race for Movistar, and we’re nearly in May! 2021 hasn’t started well for the Colombian, but he’s now ready to start the next phase of his career. Without any racing in his legs, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be able to do anything in terms of the GC, but it’ll be good to see him racing again.

Michael Woods – 20km of time trialling means he won’t challenge for the win, but he should be on the hunt for a stage win.

Prediction Time

Looks like an Ineos 1-2 to me. I’ll take a win for Geraint Thomas.

David Hunter

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