Tour de Suisse 2014: Favourites
Rui Costa returns to Switzerland looking to make it 3 in a row. Will the curse of the rainbow stripes end his hopes? If so, who can beat the Portuguese in his favourite race? A newly mellowed, hipster Wiggins tops our list after an impressive win in California with strong rides also expected of Kreuziger and Mollema.
Wiggins is back with a bang in 2014. Bearded with a relaxed demeanour, taking on the best in Paris-Roubaix, Wiggo is the ultimate cycling hipster, a far cry from the intense corporate machine of 2012. In all seriousness, the British rider seems to have mellowed now that the Tour monkey is off his back and seems to be enjoying his racing. That’s not to say the desire to win has left him however, and an impressive win in the Tour of California could well be followed up with a victory in what is a similar race in Switzerland.
Reigning champion after back-to-back wins in 2012 and 2013 – this race suits Costa perfectly. The climbs aren’t too high or too long for him and he time-trials well. Podiums this year in Paris-Nice and the Tour of Romandy show his ability to shine in short stage races. However, while it has only been whispered to date, the curse of the rainbow stripes seems to affecting the Portuguese. Usually a serial race winner, he has yet to raise his arms aloft in victory this year. Costa will see his favourite race as an opportunity to put that right.
2nd last year after an impressive stage 2 win on Crans-Montana, Mollema is improving year-on-year. With most of the riders who beat him at last year’s Tour de France not riding in Switzerland, the Dutchman will want to grasp the opportunity for a big win and announce himself as a major threat for July. 3rd in the recent Tour of Norway, including a stage win as well as an impressive Ardennes campaign, the Belkin rider will look to turn that consistent form into something more gratifying.
Kreuziger took this race by storm as a young rider back in 2008, with victory in the time-trial sealing an overall win. He’s finished twice on the podium since, including last year when he was 3rd. The Czech rider has been solid in 2014 to date with an impressive 3rd place finish in Tirreno-Adriatico the stand out result. He’ll be looking to peak for the Tour again after finishing 5th last year. He will have to sacrifice himself for Contador in France however so in terms of real personal glory, Switzerland is a great chance for him to show what he can do as team leader.
The Schleck brothers are becoming somewhat of a running joke for cycling fans outside Luxembourg these days. Between doping bans, dramatic losses of form (relate the 2 if you wish) and the current inability of Andy to even finish a race, the mystery surrounding the brothers gains more coverage as the Tour approaches. In the past, they used Switzerland to hone their form before dominating the mountains of the Tour. Frank was 2nd here as recently as 2012, a few weeks before the positive test. If there is to be any redemption in this year’s Grand Boucle, they will need to show some signs of life in the Tour de Suisse.
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