Tour de Romandie 2014-stage 1 preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Tour de Romandie 2014-stage 1 preview

By David Hunter

Prologue recap

I did ask the question why Van Garderen, Peraud and Kwiatkowski were going out earlier than the rest, now we now why! It seemed that the final riders had to contend with a stronger headwind in the final kilometre, which was also a false flat. Anyway, the young Pole took another win, in what is becoming a fabulous season. Van Garderen crashed and is out of contention, and most of the other GC riders finished close to each other.

Stage 1

It’s a real shame but the monster 35km climb, Simplonpass, has been removed due to snow. A decision that I’m sure a certain rider form Sky, with a chest infection, is delighted about! The climb was too early in the stage to have an impact on GC, but it does deny us a spectacular climb. Instead, we get a very short 89km stage.

romandia1recortada

We will have a fierce dash into the bottom of the climb and then we shall see what type of race we get. The climb can be split into two sections. We have 6km for 5%, then a short downhill, before 2.6km at 5.6%. This is not the most difficult of climbs and there is a lack of “pure” sprinters here anyway. The run to the finish line is also rising, the final 900m rises at 2%. This certainly isn’t steep but sprinters will have to time their jump well.

When you put the two parts of the climb together, they will be climbing for 8.6km at just over 5%, so it will hurt the legs of some of the riders. The sprinters in the race are:

Sutton, Lobato, Tsatevich, Nizzolo, Van Poppel, Hofland, Martens, Fernandez, Kittel, Mezgec, Ferrari, Dehaes and Van der Sande.

Marcel Kittel is obviously the fastest man in the group and if he makes it to the end, he wins the stage. I don’t see him surviving the climb.

Giant-Shimano are spoilt for choice as they also have Luca Mezgec, fresh from winning 3 stages in Catalunya. Kittel’s brilliant prologue shows that he’s in form, the same can be said for Nizzolo from Trek-Factory Racing. After a bad start to the season, he’s back and flying. He doesn’t mind the bumpy stuff!

The problem I’m having is that sometimes official profiles can be slightly wrong! I have seen another profile of the climb and it’s much harder than the race profile. The sprinters will not survive this version of the climb and it will be a reduced bunch sprint. If that happens then it has to be between Rui Costa and Michal Kwiatkowski.

When the race has previously finished in Sion, it has been a climber winning the race.

I have to trust the official profile! The climb, is quite hard and we could see a number of attacks. The problem is the long flat section before the end of the stage. OPQS are an excellent team and they will work to defend the yellow jersey, so I don’t see anyone staying away. That means we should see a sprint with Nizzolo, Hofland, Mezgec and Ferrari featuring. It will be very interesting to see Hofland and Mezgec go head-to-head, if they make it to the end.

The final kilometre is tricky with a number of type corners and a good lead-out is essential.

Prediction time …

Giacomo Nizzolo, as I think the length of the climb might just see the end of Hofland and Mezgec. If the climb proves to be harder than the official profile, I go for Kwiatkowski or Rui Costa!

David Hunter

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