Sunday, 19 June 2011

Tour de Suisse Stage 9

Incredibly, it's the last stage of the Tour de Suisse already and it's been an excellent event this year - I'm not the only Twitterer to have found it more interesting than the Giro d'Italia. Were it not for the fact that hosting a three-week event in a country the size of Switzerland would be extremely tricky, this would deserve reorganisation and an upgrade to Grand Tour status.

As anyone who knows anything about Switzerland and her Alpine neighbours would expect, the scenery has been as pleasing to look at as David Cameron with a black eye. Today will be much the same - Schaffhausen is one of the most beautiful towns in the region and Dörflingen at the 8.2km point is deservedly on the list of Swiss Heritage sites. Thayngen at 13.5km is impressive, too.

Dörflingen
Today's route takes in 32km of both Austria and Switzerland, to be completed in individual time trial stylee - but it's a time trial with a steep 182m climb over 3.8km thrown in for good measure which means the sprinters and those TT riders who don't do so well on the hills won't have it all their own way. Expect some of the climbers who can also keep up the pace in the flatlands to do alright today... we're thinking Frank Schleck might enjoy a good ride. Meanwhile, Cavendish sounds confident on Twitter: "TourDeSuisse is going to feel like a training ride. I hope," he says. However, you never can predict the outcome of a time trial, especially when it comes at the end of a major stage race.


Stetten is everything a Swiss village should be.
The climb, at Opfertshofner, isn't huge when compared to some of those earlier on in the event when the riders tackled a few of Europe's highest mountain passes, but with a highest point of 658m it's sufficient to get the old knees aching and offer good views of the surrounding countryside. The descent takes in Stetten, everything a Swiss village should be, and then enters the more-or-less flat final stage back into Schaffhausen which should encourage some high speed action.


The weather forecast looks good for the late morning and early afternoon, which means good TT conditions for the first riders out, but light showers around 3pm could make things slippery for those departing or arriving back at Schaffhausen at this time. Temperatures should be comfortable in the dry, ranging between 13-16 C, but may feel chilly during rain.


You know who we think is going to shine today? Young Ben Swift from TeamSky. Although he's a sprinter rather than a TT specialist, his fantastic 3rd place yesterday demonstrated that he has the ability to keep to a high pace over a long stage before switching on the afterburners for the final dash. He might not take the best time, but he'll do well. Damiano Cunego needs to ride hard if he wants to hang onto the yellow jersey - with a lead of 1'23" over second place Steven Kruijskijk, he should be able to do so (that climb shouldn't give him any trouble, he's an excellent grimpeur) provided he stays free of accidents/mechanical problems.

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