The Tour de Romandie is set amongst Switzerland’s western region and in recent years, thanks to Team Sky, has become part of the practice run for the Tour de France. With a team time trial as well as an individual time trial, it favours those GC riders that do well against the clock as well as strong teams that can keep their leaders out of trouble on the hurdles throughout the week.
The queen stage coming just before the final time trial will see who has the early season legs amongst the elite GC riders and notch up the first psychological win.
Tour de Romandie Stages
Stage 1 – Vallée de Joux › Juraparc (19.2k) – Team Time Trial
Stage 2 – Apples › Saint-Imier (166.1km) – Medium Hills
Stage 3 – Moutier › Porrentruy (173.2km) – Medium Hills
Stage 4 – La Neuveville › Fribourg (169.8km) – Medium Hills
Stage 5 – Fribourg › Champex-Lac (166.1km) – Summit Finish
Stage 6 – Lausanne › Lausanne (17.3km) – Time Trial
Tour de Romandie Contenders
Chris Froome is the clear favourite here having won the previous two years and more or less dominating proceedings. A strong Sky team consisting of most the usual Sky Tour de France riders should keep him well protected.
Following the Tour theme, Vicenzo Nibali will be trying to show his form, although a 5th place here last year didn’t hamper him too much as he went on to win the Tour de France.
Nairo Quintana is also here in preparation for another Grand Tour bid, he’s the best climber of the elite GC guys and his time trialling is surprisingly decent but not quite on Froome’s level. A definite contender.
There are plenty of other contenders who will also feature in this race as well as in a couple of months time during the Tour de France.
Rigoberto Uran isn’t quite in that top bracket of GC contender but isn’t far off either. With the likes of Tony Martin powering along the Etixx-Quickstep team time trial train, he won’t lose much time there but may do in the final time trial.
Rui Costa did well at Paris – Nice earlier this season, coming in 4th. In this similar one week race, he can repeat this but his time trialling skills and those of his team will probably leave him too much time to make up in the mountains.
Tinkoff-Saxo will be relying on Rafal Majka for a good GC result – his 6th at least year’s Giro and the KoM jersey at the Tour de France marked him out for greater things but so far this year he’s not had the results to back this up.
After his third place in the Tour de France last year, FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot will be bidding to repeat that performance and can show his early form here. More of a climber than an all-round GC contender – he will aim to do well on the queen stage summit finish.
Ag2r’s Carlos Betancur will find himself in a similar position but as a most explosive climber, at his best, could threaten the overall podium. After a mixed 2014, it will be interesting to see which version of him turns up.
On the next rung down of quality we have Ryder Hesjedal who hasn’t had too many strong results since winning the Giro d’Italia but it’s still hard to discount him. A powerful support team will keep him out of trouble.
Jurgen Van den Broeck has always been there or thereabouts without really getting that elite GC result. Expect to see him on the fringes of the top ten.
Frenchman Pierre Rolland will look to do well on the summit finish queen stage but his time trialling skills will hamper his bid for a very high overall position.
Former Tour de Romandie winner Simon Spilak cannot be ruled out, it’s been five years since he won here but finishing second to Chris Froome two years in a row is a sign he takes this race seriously.
Tour de Romandie Outsiders
Reto Hollenstein – The Swiss rider’s home race, he’s being groomed as IAM’s potential GC leader and the right combination of having the team behind him and riding through home may lead to a solid result overall.
Ramunas Navardauskas – Definitely one with a chance of a stage win, the powerful Lithuanian excels on uphill sprints after tough rolling profiles.
Simon Yates – I keep tipping him to do something great…5th overall in the recent Tour of the Basque Country shows he’s on the cusp.
Tour de Romandie Prediction
1 – Chris Froome
2 – Nairo Quintana
3 – Vicenzo Nibali
4 – Rigoberto Uran
5 – Rui Costa