The opening day of the Tour de Suisse proved important for the overall classification as some of the main favourites struggled in the final ascent to Küsnacht. A small group sprint decided the stage, where Stephen Williams surprised to cross the line first in front of several world class puncheurs. Andreas Kron and Max Schachmann finished second and third.
Positive: Williams taking his first pro win under very surprising circumstances.
Negative: Daniel Martinez and Gino Mader lost very important time. The likes of Hugh Carthy, Ion Izagirre and Rohan Dennis also cracked out of GC contention.
196 kilometers on the second day of racing at the Tour de Suisse, this one with a flatter start – with a relatively flat first half of the day. The second half will be tougher though, with three ascents that will make the differences in the day. The climb to Gempen with 70 kilometers (5.6Km; 5.9%) will warm things up.
The ascent to Eichenberg – not to be confused with the Flandrien Eikenberg – will summit with 42 kilometers to go. It’s a constant hilltop, where attacks are unlikely to come however there will be some damage done – in it’s 3 kilometers it features 7.5% average gradient.
And with 14.5 kilometers to go there will be the final ascent, the Challpass which features 6.2 kilometers at 6.2%. Not a tough climb, however with some hard pace it can for sure cause a small group to arrive at the top together. Furthermore the roughest gradients come towards the end which should encourage an explosive dash to the summit.
From there on there will be a fast descent with some flat sections, down until the last four kilometers which should be flat. All of this is terrain where a chase can be effective, so it will be hard to stay away.
It will rain overnight which may see wet roads, however throughout the day the weather should be calm and sunny, with a small western breeze that shouldn’t impact the day much.
Breakaway chances: 25%
Bahrain will absolutely want to keep the race lead, and with the flat start it’s unlikely to see a group succeed on this day. I would imagine several teams will also want to play the stage in their favour, as it’s a very open day once again. Nevertheless a hilly day like this is on paper favourable for an escapee group, so I feel like 25% is a reasonable balance.
Will the puncheurs thrive again? I wouldn’t know exactly if Williams can be termed a puncheur, but he definitely rode under the radar to then deal a decisive blow at the end of the day. Despite all the attacks the flat and downhill finale didn’t see a perfect collaboration to sneak away from the front group, and the stage tomorrow will again not be very selective which can allow a group of average size to go for the win. Max Schachmann, Andreas Kron and Marc Hirschi all showed good legs today and on paper they should be the main favourites for tomorrow, and the riders with the most pressure to shut down moves after the climb.
However they also see themselves in the middle of a GC battle. The likes of Jakob Fuglsang, Adam Yates, Aleksandr Vlasov and Domenico Pozzovivo don’t have the explosivity to sprint for the win but they like today can attack and also close down moves. Those mainly came from Remco Evenepoel who can for sure win easily if he gets a gap in the final kilometers – in the uphill the climbers will mark themselves completely. Sergio Higuita is also a good cars for a sprint, from the climber side.
The truth is if not a sprint to decide the day, then a late attack is almost certain and many riders can thrive in such situation. Stefan Kung, Kasper Asgreen and Alexey Lutsenko also finished in the front group today and they can be incredibly dangerous (besides the first two don’t represent a GC threat so they have the freedom too).
They haven’t been able to be in contention today, but you can also never exclude a good day from the likes of Michael Matthews, Patrick Bevin or Alex Aranburu who can find their way into the front group in the final kilometers and have a superior say in a sprint win.
Inside The Bus
This morning I talk to…
#103 Simone Pettili – The race has a lot to offer. Here was a good day to test the legs, and the level is alright. Domenico is the priority, but we shouldn’t have the need to burn you, so you can just try and hang on in the GC group, if there’s an opportunity you can try on the final kilometers to go for the stage win.
#91 Thibaut Pinot – Ok Thibaut I feel like the GC isn’t a realistic, neither a necessary goal. I want you to ride in the back of the peloton, save your legs, the time to shine will come later in the race.
#142 Johan Jacobs – You’ve done your part today for a breakaway, here you can save yourself to try on another day, someone else will take the responsibility for the day.
⭐⭐⭐Schachmann, Kron, Hirschi
⭐⭐Evenepoel, Higuita, Williams
⭐Vlasov, Küng, Lutsenko, Fuglsang, G.Thomas, Asgreen, Matthews, Aranburu
The promise of a chaotic and unpredictable finale was confirmed. Tomorrow I expect more of the same, with attacks in the final climb but a fair balance between the riders that can come back. A very tough day, but Stefan Kung is my call for the win with a late attack, as he has been climbing incredibly well for the past year.
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