Thursday 16 June 2011

Tour de Suisse starts in earnest today

(Originally published Sunday 12th of June 2011)

The Tour de Suisse is the second big race at this time of year. Though it doesn't have the profile enjoyed by the Dauphine, it's another opportunity for riders to test themselves and teams to test their tech in preparation for next month's Tour de France. Beginning yesterday with a time trial, Stage 1 saw world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara complete the 7.3km course on the shores of Lake Lugano, including a climb of just over 400m roughly halfway in 9'41.83", his fourth victory in the first stage of this event since 2003 and in spite of a problem early on with his electronic gear shifters. HTC-Highroad's Tejay Van Garderen finished just nine seconds behind him and Liquigas rider Peter Sagan 17 seconds behind. Cancellara can be seen in a post-race interview on his (rather ugly) website.

The views from the 2478m Nufenen Pass are some of the best in Switzerland, but none of the riders are going to want to stop and enjoy them today.
Today's stage, 148km from Airolo to Crans Montana in the south of the country with some extreme climbs including one of 2478m, will almost certainly see the leader's board shaken up and looking very different by the end of the day, especially when the super-fit German Andreas Kloden in fifth place and American ace all-rounder Levi Leipheimer in 9th. With Tom Danielson, the current holder of the record time in the Colorado Mount Evans Hill Climb (which pits riders against a 4307m ascent, easily surpassing anything in any of the European tours), Peter Sagan (about whom Cadel Evans said, "he makes my legs hurt") and Bauke Mollema (still just 24 but a very promising climber) all in the top ten, making a prediction with any confidence in getting it right is all but impossible.

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