Where's that GPS?
From April 23rd to April 28th the eyes of the cycling world will be fixed on the Canton of Vaud in Western Switzerland, arguably one of the most beautiful areas in Europe, and more specifically the location of the 67th edition of Tour de Romandie stage race.
The Tour de Romandie is a great warm-up for the Grand Tours coming up - especially the Giro d'Italia - and should give us a good idea as to what form some of the big names are coming into the Grand Tour Season with. It is bookended with time trials which would surely have been to the delight of Sir Wiggo, last year's winner, however he is not on the startlist. Given Wiggo's known forte, it would not have been unreasonable to assume that he would be the first, and the last man this year, to wear this attractive jersey:
So Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) has to be seen as a frontrunner to wrest the jersey from Sky's anxious grasp - at least during the Prologue.
Both IAM Cycling and BMC have Swiss connections and are therefore highly motivated to make a good showing here - and will, I suspect feature in a number of breakaways, as neither is coming with a shoe-in for the GC.
AG2R are fielding a strong team here with Gadret, Montaguti and Nocentini as is Astana with Brajkovic, Dyachenko, Gasparotto, Gavazzi and Grivko. Blanco has sent Gesink without much support.
Basso (Cannondale) and Anton (Euskatel-Euskadi) will join the likes of Hesjedal and Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), Brutt, Spilak (who won here in 2010) and Moreno (Katusha), Costa and Valverde (Movistar), Martin and Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Albasini and Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Kreuziger (who won here in 2009) and Zaugg (Saxo Tinkoff), De Gendt and Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) in the effort to deny Froome and Porte of a Sky TdR double, but this Sky tag-team will be formidable.
As this is home turf for him, I expect Albasini will make an attempt at at least one flyer for a stage win.
Sky will be stronger in the mountains than Omega Pharma-Quick Step and I suspect that will be decisive re the final GC podium. I am therfore tipping Froome for the top step with Porte as either number two or three. Valverde will share the podium with the two Sky riders.
Startlist Tour de Romandie 2013 - CyclingFever - The International Cycling Social Network - Get the Cycling fever!
Prologue - 23 April : Le Chable - Bruson ITT, 7.50 km
Stage: 1 - 24 April : Saint-Maurice - Prilly, 176.40 km
Stage: 2 - 25 April : Prilly - Granges, 190.30 km
Stage: 3 - 26 April : Payerne, 181.00 km
Stage: 4 - 27 April : Marly - Les Diablerets, 188.50 km
Stage: 5 - 28 April : Genève ITT, 18.70 km
Information and Press:
From 23th to 28th April 2013 - Tour de Romandie 2013
Cavendish Back In Action At The Tour De Romandie | Cyclingnews.com
Morabito At Tour De Romandie Free From Domestique Duties | Cyclingnews.com
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The Canton of Valais
The Canton of Valais
The Prologue: Le Chable - Bruson ITT, 7.50 km
A challenging uphill test, in the south-western Canton of Valais, this will be yet another day in the sun for World Time Trail Champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quiskstep) and will see him slide on the yellow jersey of race leader. But it will be more interesting to watch the time-splits of the other contenders - in my book this means Chris Froome, Richie Porte and Alejandro Valverde.
The Prologue Profile:
and The Prologue Map: