As I already wrote in the overall preview, Stage 2 has been modified due to bad weather in the mountains. That means the early HC-climb Nufenenpass has been cancelled and the stage has been shortened from 160 to 117.2 km.
A short stage is a fast stage and without the climb in the beginning, the peloton will be starting out in high speed. Many riders will look to get in the breakaway and thereby have an advantage starting the final climb. Without bonus seconds on the line the GC contenders don’t have to focus on the stage win but I think it will come back together and end with one of the favorites winning on Crans Montana.
Crans Montana is a frequently used climb in Tour de Suisse. Last time the race finished here, Mauricio Soler won. The Colombian climber crashed horribly on the following stage but luckily, he survived. The stage win on Crans Montana was the last in Soler’s way too short career. Movistar will be eager to pay tribute to Soler on Crans Montana and in Rui Costa they have a strong contender for the stag win. Also, teammate Andrey Amador is a good outsider with a late attack.
The climb itself is 16.3 km long and has an average gradient of about 6.5 %. The last couple of kilometers are the steepest with parts of 8.5 % and 7.2 % towards the line. I think Movistar will try to control the race and together with GreenEdge I doubt they will let a break get too far away. My joker for the overall classification Cameron Meyer took a lot of times on his rivals in the opening time trial and I think it will be very difficult to rip the yellow jersey off his shoulders on this stage.
It won’t be easy to beat Movistar but I think Thibaut Pinot is one of the few riders who can. The French climber has his eyes fixed on the Tour but that doesn’t mean he don’t race to win in Tour de Suisse. The hard race suits him fine and despite this being a short stage, he final climb is right up his alley. Pinot did very well in the opening time trial and after a strong performance in Bayern-Rundfahrt, I think he will be fighting for the win on Crans Montana.
My two personal jokers for the stage win are Tanel Kangert and Damiano Caruso. Kangert was one of the big revelations in this year’s Giro d’Italia and he still seems to be in great shape. He turned out to be one of the best helpers for Nibali in the mountains and he showed to be very strong when he took 5th place in GP Gippingen last Thursday. Astana have Brajkovic in the race as well but the Slovenian may need a day or two before his legs are used to racing again. I think Astana will try to set-up Kangert for the stage win and he might as well pull it off.
Damiano Caruso wasn’t planned to ride the Giro d’Italia this year but after Ivan Basso got injured, Caruso had to change his race schedule and take part. He was rather invisible the first part of the race but as he raced into shape he finished the Giro in a very strong way. Caruso now hopes to do well in the overall classification in Tour de Suisse and to take a stage win along the way. There are many strong riders on the start list but if Caruso can ride as he did on the hilly time trial in the Giro (finished 3rd), he will be up there for the win, I think.
Favorites: Rui Costa & Thibaut Pinot
Jokers: Tanel Kangert & Damiano Caruso
Preview by C-Cycling. Thanks to Mikkel Condé for these informative previews, I’ve supplied him with Dauphiné previews all week and now I’m drafting his Swiss analysis in return. Remember you can follow Mikel on Twitter as @mrconde.
Photo of Heinrich Haussler courtesy of IAM Cycling, more images in their Flickr set.