Tour de Romandie Preview

A three week grand tour is great because the duration allows for many stories to develop but the Tour de Romandie shows you can pack plenty into just six days. It’s a race that will see Chris Froome, Roman Kreuziger, Carlos Betancur, Mark Cavendish and more in action over a variety of terrain.

Here’s a short preview with the stages, riders, TV timings and more.
First a word on the website. The race’s has a good online presence with a bright website that is packed with information. Each stage has maps, profiles and even an animated fly-by. When you see the profile below note the “Direct TV” label marks roughly when the live television coverage will start.

Prologue, Tuesday 23 April

An uphill time trial to start with over 300m of vertical gain in 7.5km. The prologue is between Le Châble and Bruson which might not mean much, think instead of the swank Verbier ski resort, a magnet for Russians. The place is not far from the Matterhorn mountain and the Italian border, appropriate because the Giro is not far away and any rider missing uphill power is running out of time to find it.

Stage 1, Wednesday 24 April

This looks like a mountain stage but the Col du Mollendruz is a steady ascension with ramps of 5-6%, enough to shell some sprinters if the race is fast but other can sit tight on the wheels and hope the race regroup for the finish.

Stage 2, Thursday 25 April

It’s Andy Rihs day. The Swiss billionaire is one of the wealthiest figures in cycling and as well as bankrolling the BMC Team and owning the BMC company, he’s funding the construction of a new indoor velodrome where the Swiss Cycling governing body will take up its HQ in the stage finish town of Grenchen. Chapeau, Monsieur.

Stage 3, Friday 26 April

The start and finish are in the same place but there’s nothing repetitive about the day as the race does a series of loops in countryside. A day for the strong riders.

Stage 4, Saturday 27 April

The Queen Stage, this is a full mountain stage with altitude and attitude. It starts with the regular Col des Mosses and then passes through the finish in the ski resort of Les Diablerets before heading out on a 100km out and back look over the Col de la Croix, the Pas de Morgins before climbing back up the Col de la Croix to descend to Les Diablerets. The route has been specially ploughed to clear banks of snow on the high climbs.

Stage 5, Sunday 28 April

The final stage is a time trial around the shores of Lac Léman in Geneva, the city famous for its watch-making with companies like Rolex and, er, Katusha’s old diamond watch mailbox provider, Sarcar. Is there a more appropriate place for a time trial? At 18km this is long enough to change the overall classification on the final day.

The depth of the field is impressive with plenty of big names. Last year’s winner Bradley Wiggins isn’t racing but Team Sky come with a strong squad, inevitable in a stage race. Chris Froome and Richie Porte stand out but what if Vasil Kiriyenka is let off the leash for once?

Andrew Talansky was second here last year and in 2011 he also stood on the podium, blinking and shy as the podium girls kissed him. Now he’s more used to the routine and could well shine here and we’ll see how Ryder Hesjedal does, maybe he’ll do the prologue hard, back off and then test himself in the final time trial? Katusha come with Dani Moreno and Simon Spilak but like Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde they’ll have to gain time in the mountains to survive the final time trial, Rui Costa could be a more balanced pick. The same for Robert Gesink, the Dutchman’s still due a big result and aiming for the Giro, let’s watch his junior sidekick Wilco Kelderman too. Lotto-Belisol brings Mr Regular, Jurgen Van den Broeck who seems capable of a top-5 but is a very rare winner. Roman Kreuziger is in great shape and Igor Anton was quietly strong too. Janez Brajkovic is another contender along with J-C Péraud too.

Away from the overall classification OPQS come with Tony Martin, surely a certainty for the final stage and Mark Cavendish resumes racing. We’ll see how Carlos Betancur fares in the high mountains and I’ll be watching neo-pro Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg of Argos-Shimano has he can sprint and cope with some moderate climbs too. Damiano Cunego might find the stages suit him too.

Vacansoleil-DCM alone bring several interesting stories. Lieuwe Westra is an outsider for the overall, José Rujano has to show some form ahead of the Giro and Johnny Hoogerland gets back to racing after a training crash earlier this year.

Thibaut Pinot first made a name for himself winning the mountains jersey in this race back in 2010. His revelation became a confirmation in the Tour de France but he’s yet to get a result this year.Don’t expect him to cope with final time trial but the big mountain stage could be within his reach but there are plenty of specialist climbers here too including local rider Johann Tschopp of IAM.

It’s the French-speaking part of Switzerland, to the west of the country and borders France and Italy, in green above. The race isn’t limited to the area but within the region it can borrow from a range of terrain, from wide plains and valleys to mountain passes and ski resorts. It’s the home race of BMC, the Swiss bike company and the IAM Cycling team too.

It’ll be on TV but the channel varies. Pirate internet feeds prevail as always and and are the go-to sites. Note the stage finishes are expected around 5.00-5.30pm local time.

21 thoughts on “Tour de Romandie Preview”

    • This years addition is about medium mountains and the ITT. Only 1 big climb on stage 5. If he can limit his losses, he can prevail. Descenders and attackers will carru the headlines in this one, but the usual GT contenders who TT well should win out.

      • Yes, 10,000m of vertical gain between now and Sunday which is about two mountain stages in tghe Giro or Tour.

        Martin has said his goal is the podium. If he manages to pace himself on the climbs it’s possible.

  1. Brajkovic, Kreuzinger, Gesink, Anton, Cunego…and probably VDB soon – all riders who are consistently touted for big performances in stage races and consistently fail to deliver. Betancur and Spilak seem like better prospects, perhaps because they haven’t yet consistently failed to deliver on their potential. Moreno is maybe not the biggest name, but I’m putting him as 2nd favourite. Spilak’s looked pretty impressive this season and if he can ‘do a Moreno’ and be the perfect wingman then Katusha look serious. Plus Moreno was thwarted on Sunday, and we know what that can do to a rider’s determination to succeed (ask Dan Martin).

    This of course acknowledges the fact that Porte and Froome are the 2 favourites ahead of Moreno. 2 TT stages see to that. But Sky do seem to occasionally have issues closing races out and it would be no surprise at all to see Moreno get ghostwin.

    • I think Moreno will need a minute or more after the mountain stage to save an overall lead in the final TT. But it’s possible, imagine a rainy day in the mountains and a race that’s hard to control. On paper Porte and Froome stand out but they didn’t appear so strong in the Ardennes classics.

    • Cunego has won the Giro in 2004, Brajkovic the Dauphiné and Gesink last year’s Tour of California. I have to admit that I can’t see them beat Froome or Porte.

      • Yeah I know, still Cunego’s Giro win was in a different age and he’s come nowhere near to fulfilling that potential since, even in the Classics. Gesink’s ToC win was overshadowed by a shocker in the TDF and is a poor return for all the hype constantly surrounding him. He isn’t even in the top 3 Rabobank riders imho. Brajkovic also hasn’t done anything since the infamous Astana ‘Glory Days’ (although he has supposedly suffered with injury in recent times).

        My point is that these lads are always touted for success, but I think the time is well past for these guys be talked of as major contenders. Of all the riders who were the up-and-comers when I started watching in 2008, only Nibali has lived up to expectation (I put the Schlecks in this category too). I like Pinot, Betancur, Costa…stick around for a few years and I’ll tear them down too for not living u to my unreasonable expectations

  2. Tomorrow’s stage comes through the village where I live – I hope they’ve sorted out the local roadworks and potholes in the road before then…! There are some narrow descents and “road furniture” to deal with, but tomorrow’s finish has Cav v. Goss written all over it – don’t think the Col du Mollendruz is likely to trouble the sprinters.

  3. Oh boy I love Romandie, it is always fun to see the pros do their thing on my local stomping grounds (at twice my speed), all the while I’m wondering if the commune got round to fixing certain potholes or gravelly sections since I was last there.

    Handy note on Swiss ski resorts:
    Verbier is a magnet for Brits and Scandinavians, Russians are found in Zermatt, Gstaad, etc…

  4. Coverage on Sky is fine. Actually, since it’s not ruined by the hideous presence of Karlton Kurby, it’s actually better than Eurosport at the moment. I’m sure it’s sacriledge to even admit to watching Sky amongst the assorted faux beatniks and smug trendies who follow pro-cycling. But hey, it’s sport and it’s on TV.

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