Küsnacht > Küsnacht 176.7km
The opening day is a circuit race, and a rather tricky one too. The lap is covered on four occasions, and it features two climbs. The final hill is very close to the finishing line, which the organisers will hope means we see attacking racing.
A beautiful sunny day.
The Pfannenstiel climb is 3.9km at 4.4%, it’s not that hard.
Küsnachter Berg is 5.5km at 4.8%, but the opening 2.9km averages 7.5%, this is where the damage can be done. The top of the hill is much easier, but it does grind on for a while, with the crest coming just 2km to go to the finishing line.
The position of the final climb is the hard bit for the fast men, it will be raced very hard, and I would expect to see lots of attacks. This could well mean that the teams with sprinters won’t be interested in controlling the morning break. This should really be a day for the puncheurs, which means we should see QuickStep, Ineos, UAE and BikeExchange control the morning break, that’s enough to ensure we get the type of stage they want.
The second climb is the one where we’ll see attacks, but it might not properly kick off until the final lap. The penultimate time over this climb crests with around 50km to go, that’s going to be too far from home for any of the favourites to attack. I think most teams will want to see a controlled stage, setting up big attacks on the final climb.
Remco Evenepoel – given his recent form, he starts as the favourite to win the stage. He’s climbing very well, and he’s managed to develop his sprint too. QuickStep have the team to control the stage, setting up a big move from Remco. One problem is that he’s a GC rider in this race, when he attacks, the other GC riders must respond. We’ll have to see if he can drop them.
Tom Pidcock – this is his first road race for a while, but that’s the same for many riders in this race. His first half of the season was frustrating, but this will only motivate him more for the second half. This race is very important in terms of securing his place in the Tour de France team, he’ll want to impress. The climb is good for him, and we all know about his sprinting speed.
Marc Hirschi – won on Thursday in GP Kantons, confidence will be high. We’ve all been waiting for him to hit the heights of 2020; the last year and a half must have been very frustrating for him. He’ll be up there challenging for the win, a man with confidence is hard to beat.
Max Schachmann – was 2nd behind Hirschi on Thursday, a positive sign after a frustrating season. This will be just his 12th race day of 2022; he’ll likely still be a little off his very best.
Benoît Cosnefroy – not won yet this season, he’ll be wanting to put that right before the Tour de France. AG2R don’t have a particularly strong team at this race, Cosnefroy could struggle when all the big teams start to fire.
Michael Matthews – of all the fast men, he’s got the best chance of success. Matthews will look at the final climb and be confident of getting over it with the main group, the problem will be if anyone manages to attack and get away. BikeExchange don’t have a strong team at the race, Matthews will have to hope someone else does the work for him.
I’ll ignore the two big favourites, Evenepoel and Hirschi, and go with Tom Pidcock. If there was ever a stage that suited him perfectly, it’s this one.