Tour de Suisse 2016 – preview
While the two biggest Tour favourites and several of their biggest rivals finish off their final preparation race at the Dauphiné, most of the remaining GC riders for this year’s edition of La Grande Boucle are ready to take on their last challenge prior to the big objective. Formerly known as the world’s most prestigious week-long stage race, the Tour de Suisse has lost some of its appeal to the world’s biggest stars but the 9-day race remains an outstanding event that every rider would love to add to his palmares.
Stage 1: Baar – Baar, 6.4km ITT
The race gets underway with a rolling time trial that will suit the specialists. With riders starting at minute intervals, the course takes them on a twisty town route for the first half, with a long, straight run back towards the finish, ending in a 90-degree right bend before the last push for the line.
Stage 2: Baar – Baar, 187.6km
After the initial time trial to set the jersey hierarchy, the road action gets going on stage 2 over the rolling 187.6km route around Baar. Based on a circuit with a climb each lap, four in total, the race suits a reduced bunch sprint, with some of the pure sprinters potentially losing touch over the hills.
Stage 3: Grosswangen – Rheinfelden, 192.6km
The third stage presents another selection of short climbs for the riders to tackle, with the first categorised climb coming after 105km of racing. This is the first of six categorised ascents in the final 90km, with the last cresting just over 10km from the finish.
Stage 4: Rheinfelden – Champagne, 193km
Stage 4 is the most obvious chance for a sprint all week, with an early climb after 38km preceding a long section of flat until the second and final climb after 182km. This late test could provide the puncheurs with a launch pad for attacks, but the sprinters will be wanting their shot at glory in Champagne.
Stage 5: Brig/Glis – Carì, 126.4km
Stage 5 sees the first major climbs of the race, with the Furkapass climbing to over 2400m, and cresting after 56km of racing. The descent that follows runs straight into the second mountain ascent of the day, the Gotthardpass -a regular at the Tour de Suisse. The stage then culminates with a mountain top finish in Carí at over 1600m altitude. Expect a major reshuffle of GC by the finish.
Stage 6: Weese – Amden, 162.8km
A steady start gives a deceptive feel to the difficulty of stage 6, with the climbing not starting until around 80km in, at which point the riders start the long, 20km ascent of the Klausenpass. A long descent to the valley roads follows before another mountain top finish in Amden after 162.8km of racing.
Stage 7: Arbon – Sölden, 224.3km
A third mountain top finish in succession on stage 7 will see the GC riders doing battle once again. Again there is just one categorised climb before the finishing ascent, the Hochtannbergpass after 85km, followed quickly after by the Aaribergpass which takes the riders to 1780m altitude. A steady interlude follows before the steep slopes of the climb to Sölden to finish.
Stage 8: Davos – Davos. 16.8km ITT
Starting at over 1500m altitude, the profile of stage 8 ITT rolls down for the first 4.5km before a short climb. This leads into another descent before the main difficulty, a three kilometre drag to Davos Ciavadel. A fast descent follows before the final run in.
Stage 9: Davos – Davos, 117.7km
The final stage of the race could still provide a late surprise if the GC fight is close, with two tough mountains to tackle during the stage, both cresting at over 2300m altitude. With the finish line coming at the end of a 17km descent from the top of the final climb – Flüelapass – the suspense could be held right until the last pedal strokes.