Tour de Suisse 2016 – Overall Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Tour de Suisse 2016 – Overall Preview

By David Hunter

Last year was a bumper edition of the race, keeping us entertained until the very end. It’s going to be hard to live up to those expectations.

Route

Stage 1

suiza 1

Despite only being 6.4km, they call it an ITT, it’s a prologue! A little hill after 1.5km will test the riders, but this is one for the specialists.

Stage 2

suiza 2

For stage 2 we have a nice lap circuit containing a cat 2 climb. It’s 4.4km at 4.9%, so not that hard. As usual, the day is full of climbing but this should end in a sprint.

Stage 3

suiza 3

Another lap circuit. The climbs are short but very hard. The opening hill, in the circuit, is 11.5% for 1.3km, followed by 6.5% for 2.2km. That will slim the bunch down considerably.

Stage 4

suiza 4

A very flat stage, especially considering the race. The little bump at the end is 1.7km at 4.1%. A rare easy day in the Tour de Suisse!

Stage 5

suiza 5

A very tough day, with 2HC climbs and a cat 1. The last climb is 10km at 8.9%. Ouch!

Stage 6

suiza 6

Two more difficult mountains. We end with 6.9km at 12%. That is bordering on the insane!

Stage 7

suiza 7

The last of 3 mountaintop finishes. This time we end with 10.1km at 12.2%, a horrible climb.

Stage 8

suiza 8

The TT is not as hard as previous years. The hill is 3km at 5%, so quite easy.

Stage 9

suiza 9

We end with another demanding stage. It’s only 117.7km long but features two HC climbs. A demanding end to a challenging week.

Analysis

This is a ridiculously difficult edition of the race. We still have over 20km of TTs, but this race will be settled in the mountains. Having 3 consecutive days with mountaintop finishes makes this a climbers race. Ending just 2 weeks before the start of the Tour, I can see why most serious Tour contenders go to the Dauphine.

Thomas and Van Garderen are the exceptions. How they manage their efforts will be fascinating. Can they really afford to go deep here? If they want to finish on the podium of the Tour, they will have to be very careful managing their efforts.

The move away from the importance of the TT is great news. Most of the recent editions have been swayed by the TT kilometres, but 2016 looks like a year where anything can happen. Great news for little climbers like Superman Lopez.

A strong team will also be required to help defend in the mountains. Team Sky, Movistar and BMC look the strongest outfits, but the winner might not come from these teams. We shall have to wait and see!

Contenders

Geraint Thomas – was very close to winning it last year, but just faded in the final TT. As I have previously mentioned, Thomas, will have to carefully manage his resources. This will be viewed as final training for the Tour, but I’m not sure how deep he’ll want to go. He should start without big pressure, as he has already won Paris-Nice this season.

Tejay Van Garderen – a strange decision to send him here and Porte to the Dauphine. The parcours do suit him well, but his is in a very similar position to Thomas. On paper, he is the strongest rider here and starts as the favourite.

Simon Spilak – the defending champion is back. He loves riding in Switzerland, mainly due to the horrible weather. Unlike previous years, he’s not had a great 2016. He will look to put that right, in a country he knows well.

Wilco Kelderman – Jumbo arrive with him and Gesink, but for me, Kelderman is better. His season has been okay, but his focus has been the Tour. He should have good legs and look to challenge for the overall title.

Ion Izagirre – slowly turning into one of the best in the business. His 2016 has been good: 4th in Valenciana, 2nd in Algarve, 5th in Paris-Nice, 1st in GP Indurain and 3rd in Romandie. Izagirre really is a sensational prospect for Movistar. When he isn’t riding in support of Quintana or Valverde, he seems to take his chance. I would expect another big result here, maybe even the win.

Mathias Frank – local rider who always wants to do well here. With the bad news about IAM, he is also riding for a new contract. His season has been okay, as he slowly builds up for the Tour. Frank is the typical hardworking rider that fans love. He’s not one of these super humans, who can maintain a long peak throughout the season. To make the top 10 in the Tour, he must dedicate his whole season to that purpose. His 8th place in 2015 was a magnificent result. I would go as far to say that it was even more significant than Froome winning. I interviewed him a few years ago, he was a really nice guy. Hopefully he can pull something out of the bag and ensure a big contract with a World Tour team.

Superman Lopez – the little Colombian is one of the stars of the future. He started the season well, with wins in San Luis and Langkawi, but not much since. He’s only 22, so maybe we shouldn’t expect too much too soon. Saying that, this route is perfect for him. He’s very much at home at high altitude, and we have plenty of that in this race. Supporting him will be Michele Scarponi, the most important rider of the Giro. The Italian went so deep in that race, he must still be tired. Hopefully he has some gas left to support his young teammate.

Rui Costa – Mr Suisse! Winner of the race in 2012, 2013 and 2014. En route he took 5 stage wins. Looking at this year’s route, I think it’s too hard for him. Then again, he will go full gas and not worry about saving energy for the Tour. That’s why it’s hard to predict what happens in this race.

Keep An Eye On

Tiesj Benoot – still searching for that first win. He’ll like racing in Switzerland, mainly thanks to the rain. The sprint stages present him with a chance of surprising a few, thanks to his attacking intent and turn of pace. Who knows, he might even try to get in the break in the mountains!

Winner Anacona – will be a hugely important part of the Quintana team at the Tour. The 27 year old Colombian is a wonderful climber and another that does well at high altitude. Just watch him go in the mountains!

Fernando Gaviria – fast developing into one of the finest in the world. I’m a huge fan of the youngster and we have a real challenger for Peter Sagan’s crown!

Prediction Time

I’ll go with the consistent Ion Izagirre. Such a good rider and one that shines when given the chance.

David Hunter

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