We take a look at the main contenders for the 2014 Tour de Suisse (June 14-22), and rate their chances of success
Both of these WorldTour-level races are used as warm-up events for the Tour de France in July, and attract a star-studded list of riders.
Here we pick out the main contenders for this year’s Tour de Suisse.
Bradley Wiggins, SkyAmidst all the controversy surrounding Team Sky’s Tour selection, Bradley Wiggins has a chance to let his bike do the talking at the Tour de Suisse. He claims to be on his 2012 Tour de France-winning form which, if true, makes him a shoo-in to win the overall. His win at the Tour of California a few weeks ago certainly suggests this to be the case, and here he has 34.3kms of time trialing to gain time in.
Rui Costa, Lampre-MeridaFor some reason Rui Costa loves riding in Switzerland: he has podiumed in each of the last three editions of the Tour de Romandie and won the Tour de Suisse in both 2012 and 2013. So this week ought to be the best chance yet for the defending champion to finally grab his first win in the rainbow jersey.
Bauke Mollema, BelkinOne of Mollema’s best rides to date came at last year’s Tour de Suisse, where he won the first mountain stage and finished second overall. Have enjoyed a decent week in the Ardennes classics, Holland’s great hope got his Tour preparations on track with a stage win at the Tour of Norway, and could conceivably win the GC here.
Roman Kreuziger, Tinkoff-SaxoSeparated from Tour team leader Alberto Contador (who is competing in the Dauphine), Kreuziger has a rare chance to ride for himself. He has a very impressive record at the Tour de Suisse, having won in 2008 and finished third last year, but history all suggests that Kreuziger performs better as a domestique than as sole leader.
Matthias Frank, BMCWith Matthias Frank, the Swiss have their best hope of an overall winner since producing a pan-flat course with a long time trial for Fabian Cancellara to win back in 2009. With new team IAM Cycling, the 27-year old is enjoying his bets season to date, having won stages and finished second overall in both the Criterium International and the Bayern-Rundfahrt.
Thibaut Pinot, FDJOne of the best performances of Pinot’s brief career was his fourth overall at last year’s Tour de Suisse, but he has failed to better that ride since. However the young Frenchman is prodigiously talented, and could make the next big step in his career by winning overall.
Domenico Pozzovivo, Ag2rUnlike most of the other contenders, Pozzovivo is riding here on the back of the Giro, rather than preparing for the Tour. It is possible to carry good form from that race into this one, as Wilco Kelderman is currently demonstrating at the Dauphine, but it remains more likely that that brutal final week will have taken too much out of the Italian.
Frank Schleck, TrekThe elder Schleck brother has underwhelmed since returning from a drugs ban at the start of the season, and this is his last chance to show some form before the Tour de France. He has a good record here, having won a stage and the overall in 2010 as well as finishing second overall in 2012, but it currently seems unlikely that he can repeat these feats.
Ones to Watch
Mark Cavendish, Omega Pharma-QuickStep
With neither Kittel nor Greipel riding, Mark Cavendish will be favourite to win the bunch sprints in Switzerland. Recent hauls in the Tour of Turkey and the Tour of California suggest he has the form, and a couple of wins would be a major confidence booster for the Manx Missile as he prepares for his main target of 2014: the Tour de France.
Peter Sagan, Cannondale
2014 has been a relatively lean year by Peter Sagan’s immensely high standards, having only won five races so far. That tally ought to increase at the Tour de Suisse, which includes a few hilly stages that seem to suit the Slovak perfectly.
Fabian Cancellara, Trek
A repeat of his 2009 victory will be impossible, but it will be interesting to see how Fabian Cancellara approaches the race. As yet we’re unsure whether he will ride the Tour next month, and the form he has here may indicate if he does intend to. The two time trials will be the key stages, where he’ll go head-to-head with the two men who beat him in last year’s world championships, Tony Martin and Wiggins.
Alex Dowsett, Movistar
British time trial champion Alex Dowsett is on good form at the moment, having smashed the British record for the coveted 10-mile distance with a new time of 17 minutes and 20 seconds in early June – an average of 34.6153mph (55.7079kph). How fast? That’s quicker than any Tour de France individual time trial in history, including Chris Boardman’s prologue record of 55.152 km/h set in 1994. Watch out for Dowsett in the time trials.