Küsnacht > Aesch 197.1km
The second day of the race is another well designed stage, it offers some hope to the fast men, but also gives opportunities for the puncheurs to attack. In particular, the final climb and subsequent chase should be excellent to watch.
Another beautiful day, two in a row, not something we get every year in this race.
This is the final climb of the day. The (you) Chall(not)pass is 6.3km at 6.2%, and is a fairly steady effort until the final 900m which averages 9.4%. It’ll be a headwind for most of the climb, but a fair bit of it is well protected by trees. The crest comes with 14km to go, most of which is a fast downhill.
The road is a good one, which means we’ll see some very fast speeds as the front group flies towards the finishing line. If you are a fast man who’s lost some time near the top of the climb, making it back on is going to be very difficult.
First up, who wants to control the stage? Given the way the fast men climbed today, they don’t have much of a chance in this stage. Bahrain will clearly ride to defend the yellow jersey, but a break without a GC threat could get a big gap. The good news for the break is that after today’s tough stage, he have some huge gaps on GC. The right break could get a long way up the road, but it does depend on who wants to chase.
Today it was Bora, QuickStep, BikeExchange and Ineos who did the most work, will they do it again? As we witnessed in the Dauphiné, BikeExchange love to chase the break, even if they don’t stand a chance of winning the stage! Okay, I’m joking a bit, Matthews does have a chance in this stage, so I expect to see the Aussies work on the front, but I’m not sure if anyone else will.
Once on the climb, we’ll see something similar to today. The final kilometre of the climb is very hard, that’s where we’ll see the attacks from the same riders on the move today. We’ve seen in previous editions of this race, small groups getting clear in similar looking stages. As long as it has the right mix of teams, it has a great chance of going all the way. We won’t be talking about big gaps, but all GC riders will want to be on the right side of any splits.
Stephen Williams – he pulled that out the bag today, one of the biggest surprises of the season. There’s no doubting his talent, Williams has long been considering one of Britain’s biggest talents, but a series of big injuries had a huge impact on his pro career. We all witnessed his turn of speed, beating the likes of Kron and Schachmann tells us that the Welshman has a fast sprint. If we get a repeat of today’s stage, he’ll be up there challenging for a second win.
Michael Matthews – I was surprised to see him finish so far down today, it’s not a great sign for the rest of the race. When at his best, he would survive the final climb, but is he? After today, I have my doubts.
Andreas Kron – form is looking good, and this is another good stage for him. His chances of winning all depend on the size of the group.
Bora – with three riders in the front group, they can be disappointed not to walk away with the win. Vlasov, Schachmann and Higuita are all looking good, and with the longer distance between the climb and finish, it’s possible for them to use their strength in depth to get an advantage over their rivals.
Remco Evenepoel – looked nice and strong today, this is another stage where he’ll look to attack. As I suspected, he was heavily marked today, it won’t be easy for him to escape the group due to his GC threat. He’ll be up there, but winning will be tough. QuickStep also have a second option in Van Wilder, he looked nice and strong today.
Jakob Fuglsang – so strong today, he looked back to his best. He doesn’t have much of a sprint, so winning when the final climb crests with 14km to go will be a challenge.
Geraint Thomas – always a likely contender to sneak off the front in the closing kilometres, similar to what he need in last year’s Dauphiné.
Simon Pellaud – Swiss breakaway hope number 1.
Simon Vitzthum – Swiss breakaway hope number 2.
Silvan Dillier – Swiss breakaway hope number 3.
Stefan Bissegger – Swiss breakaway hope number 4.
Someone to chase the break down and Bora to exploit their numbers in the run for home. I’ll take a win for Sergio Higuita.