By David Hunter
Bex – Cevio 222km
The riders face a long day in the saddle.
It’s a fairly weird looking stage, with a big mountain sitting right in the centre. The climbing doesn’t begin for 100km, making it a break suited to the power men of the bunch. Simplonpass is 20km at 6.5%, a proper climb. Once crested, we have 40km of descending before hitting the final categorised climb of the day. The climb to Druogno is 6.7km at 7.2%, from the crest there is still 54.5km remaining. This is a long day!
A word of warning, the organisers have given the final climb a cat 3 status, but going from the roadbook it is much harder than this. The roadbook in the Tour de Suisse isn’t always right, it could be closer to 10km at 5%.
Does any team want to bring the break back? Such a long stage is very tough on just one team holding the break. With a significantly reduced peloton, it also makes it hard to control the race after the climb. I think most of the teams would rather be in the break, freeing the squad up for an easy day in the saddle.
However, I thought that about today too! Today’s break only featured four riders, but it was very rewarding for Larry Warbasse. It could be the same in this stage, or we might get a break of 20 riders.
Some of the sprint teams will pray that a small breakaway gets away. They will hope for an agreement in the bunch and ride the big climb at tempo. If the break is weak, they could hold them at a reasonable distance. The second climb is the problem. This stage has 2570m of climbing, but most of it of it comes with 67.5km of racing. That sounds too difficult for teams to hold together for a bunch sprint.
It’s another uphill finish, but the gradients are nothing to worry any of the riders.
Excellent! This looks like a perfect day for the escape artists.
Yet again, we have predictions of thunderstorms. We’ll have to wait and see if they are correct.
Tim Wellens – tried to jump across to the break today, but he had already missed his chance. It looks like he’ll treat every stage as a one day race, hoping to take one win this week. This looks like a good chance for him, but his sprinting speed is a concern. If he makes the move, he’ll try and drop his companions as they head for home.
Greg Van Avermaet – it’s Switzerland, that means the break has to have a BMC rider! You might be surprised to see Van Avermaet mentioned, but cast your mind back to the day he took the yellow jersey in the Tour. He can certainly get over this hill, especially if the pace is a little easier than usual.
Peter Sagan – why the hell not!? The world champion has previous for winning demanding stages. After missing out on a win on Monday, we could see him stretch his legs in a break. After a block of altitude training, this climb won’t scare him.
Nelson Oliveira – solid climber, with the TT skills required for a long solo effort. If a big break goes away, Movistar will want representation.
Michael Albasini – no stage wins yet, this is a chance for him. He is fast, but Albasini is also a good climber and no stranger to a breakaway.
Gianluca Brambilla – the Italian has had a quiet race. I fully expect him to try his luck at least once and this is a good stage for him. One of the best climbers in the race, he also has a relatively fast sprint.
Philip Deignan – after a successful Giro, the Irishman might be on his knees. He is a very good climber and is faster than a lot of riders in the sprint. Team Sky have taken some breakaway successes recently, can he add another stage to their list of wins?
Jarlinson Pantano – stomach problems ended his GC bid on Sunday. That really was a massive disappointment for the Colombian as he had been targeting this race. It now allows him to target stages, but only if he has recovered. He has one of the fastest finishes of the climbers, but much slower than some of the other riders I’ve mentioned.
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how this stage will unfold. It could be a big break, or a small break. The sprinters might go for the break, or they could ask their team to try and contain all the moves. We could even see some of the GC riders attacking on the climbs, they have nothing to lose.
When in Switzerland, go Swiss. I’ll take Michael Albasini as the winner.
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