Tour de Suisse 2017 – Stage 6 Preview

By David Hunter

Locarno – La Punt Chamues-ch 166.7km

After a rather dull stage, this is much more exciting day.

The stage is dominated by two HC climbs, both climbing over 2000m of altitude. The first climb is to San Bernardino, this is around 21km at 7%. The climb begins around the 40km mark and I don’t expect to see the break go until we hit the early slopes. That should make it a break for the climbers.

The final climb is 17km at around 6.5% and that includes some easy kilometres. The last 6km rarely drops below 7%, making it a very challenging climb.

Finale

Once the climb has been crested, we still have 9.3km left. The following descent is very fast, but not overly technical. We have two corners inside the final 400m, but don’t expect a big bunch arriving together!

Breakaway Hopes

Yet another day that looks good for the break. If the bunch stays together until the first climb, it will allow the little climbers into the morning move. If a group of talented mountain men make the break, don’t expect to see them again. In the peloton, we could see Katusha chase the move, looking to set up a stage win for Simon Spilak.

Crucial Info

As we don’t have a mountaintop finish, it decreases the chances of a solo winner. Last time we were here, a group of three arrived together, with Rui Costa taking the win from Mollema and Van Garderen, after they distanced Thibaut Pinot on the descent.

The altitude will also have an impact on the race. Some riders do not cope well when we climb over 2000m and the final climb goes all the way up to 2315m.

Weather

Another prediction of thunderstorms and periods of heavy rain.

Contenders

Simon Spilak – he’s looking back to his very best, great news for all his fans. His poor sprinting speed is the major obstacle to him winning this stage. Looking at the other GC riders, they all seem to be faster than him. Spilak will be more than happy to finish in the  front group, with a mountaintop finish to follow on Friday.

Steven Kruijswijk – looked very impressive on Tuesday. Most of the chasing was done by himself and Spilak, if this form continues, he has a great chance in this stage. Not the fastest sprinter, he is in a similar position to Spilak. The Dutchman will hope to drop as many of his rivals as possible, a stage win would be a bonus.

Damiano Caruso – the Italian has the fastest sprint of the top 4 on GC, that puts him in a strong position in this stage. He currently leads the GC by 16 seconds, but would dearly love some more time. Caruso is a talented climber, but he rarely gets a chance to ride for personal glory. Interestingly, he didn’t do much chasing on Monday, I doubt his rivals will let that happen in this stage. Expect to see some big attacks from the others, forcing Caruso to respond.

Mathias Frank – usually suffers when we climb over 2000m. I worry that we’ll see it again.

Domenico Pozzovivo – can his Giro legs continue? I think not.

Rui Costa – won here in 2013 and riders love returning to the scene of past glories. He was a little disappointing on Tuesday, but this stage is good for him. He seems to be clinging to his Giro form and this good spell does deserve to be rewarded with a win. I doubt we’ll see him attack, but he doesn’t need to. Can he follow the wheels?

Ion Izagirre – disappointed on Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean his race is over. A brilliant descender, he will love the finish to this stage. The Basque rider can also cope well with high altitude, something that is a definite positive in this stage. He thinks allergies stopped him performing on Tuesday, hopefully they are not a problem in this stage.

Marc Soler – not at the level to win a stage like this, yet.

Jarlinson Pantano – seems to be improving everyday. The Colombian will have to decide if he wants to try and win from the break or the bunch. He’s a terrific climber and has a fast sprint, that makes him prefect for this stage, but he needs to be 100%.

Pello Bilbao – was very impressive on Tuesday and now takes over team leadership for Astana, after the crash of Lopez. Bilbao is a decent climber and has a very fast finish. He’s not as good a climber as some of his rivals, he’ll need a terrific performance to stay with them on the steep slopes. If he does, he will be the favourite to win any type of sprint.

Seb Henao – breakaway hopeful number 1.

Tim Wellens – breakaway hopeful number 2.

Darwin Atapuma – breakaway hopeful number 3.

Dayer Quintana – breakaway hopeful number 4.

Pieter Weening – breakaway hopeful number 5.

Prediction Time

I think we’ll see another breakaway victory. The profile is perfect, if the move goes on the first climb. Also, the teams here don’t have a huge amount of strength in depth, making it hard to chase down the early move. My breakaway pick will be Dayer Quintana.

Back in the front group, don’t expect to see any gaps between the top 5 riders, that will come on Friday.

*Overall Preview

David Hunter

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