What’s known as the season’s fourth grand tour begins on Saturday in Switzerland for its 80th running. The mountain stages are more difficult this season, and to that end Cannondale Pro Cycling Team brings a squad designed for longer climbs.
Andrew Talansky and Joe Dombrowski head up the roster for the nine-day tour, which features three mountaintop finishes and two short time trials. The GC tussle will lean toward climbers, but the route also has opportunities for sprinters and the breaks.
“I am looking forward to Suisse, it is a new challenge and something different compared to what I have done during June in years past. It looks like a great race route, back loaded with the hard climbing days and TT towards the end,” said Talansky.
“A successful Tour de Suisse for me would mean continuing to improve on where I was during Tour of California,” Talansky added. “That was a great race for the team. We rode well together and came away with the results to show it. I would like to be riding strongly in the second half of Suisse and of course put in a good performance in the TT towards the end. For the team I think we have options to fight for stage wins as well as come away with a top GC result.”
Director Charly Wegelius noted the proximity of the Tour de France to the Suisse race, which finishes later than its June counterpoint, Criterium du Dauphiné.
“Suisse is challenging because it’s close to the Tour,” he said. “If you do the Dauphiné, there’s still some time to correct fitness. Suisse is more of a reveal. And that can be a good or a bad thing.”
“I do think the race can suit Andrew — steady, wide roads. It’s a longer race, which suits him. People get worn down a bit more. It’s a harder edition this year than in the past,” Wegelius said. “It’s a really prestigious race in itself. I suppose it’s the fourth national tour, as it were.”
The Swiss race marks an opportunity for Dombrowski as well, who came up just short of winning a mountain stage at last month’s Giro d’Italia.
“He came out well of the Giro,” Wegelius said. “If you’ve got your head screwed on right and you can suffer a little bit through the first two hours of the race, then you can get really good results in June. Swiss is not super technical, it’s just hard. A good GC from Joe isn’t off the cards, but it would be really nice to see him win a stage. I think that’s what he deserved at the Giro in the last week, but he didn’t get it.”
Dombrowski wasn’t initially slated to race the Tour of Switzerland, but after the Giro, the decision to send the climber to the race was made.
“I finished the Giro strong and healthy and I’m looking forward to putting that good form to use at Tour de Suisse. It’s one of my favorite races of the year, and it seems that this year’s parcours suits me really well,” Dombrowski said.
The race also features a special package between the race organizer and Velon, a collection of 11 World Tour teams aiming to build a better revenue model for the sport. As part of that deal, viewers of the race will see live performance data and on-bike camera angles.
“The packaging that has been created for fans is a step in the right direction. At the end of the day cycling is one of the greatest spectator sports in the world, fans have access to all the pros before the start, after the finish, they have a level of interaction that does not exist in any other profession sport in the world,” Talansky said. “That said, engaging the fans in the ‘on the bike’ action has always been where this sport has come up a little short, so it is encouraging to see steps being taken to involve the fans with everything happening within the race.”
Cannondale Pro Cycling Team for Tour de Suisse 2016: Patrick Bevin, Matti Breschel, Joe Dombrowski, Kristijan Koren, Toms Skujins, Andrew Talansky, Davide Villella, Ruben Zepuntke
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