[Article was written before the start of the Tour de Suisse and has not been updated.]
Presumably, the battle for the overal victory in the Tour of Switzerland boils down to five stages. The first gaps will be opened up with the TTT on the first day of action. In theory, Kelderman (leader of World Champion Sunweb) and Porte (of multiple former World Champion BMC) are best placed to put time into their opponents on the tricky 18 kilometres route.
Fast descenders can put pressure on the others in the finale of the 4th stage. The – not too demanding – course ends with an 8 kilometres climb and a 9 kilometres descent to the line. Leg 5 on the following day brings the first uphill finish after a final climb of 15 kilometres.
Stage 7 is the last opportunity for mountain goats to strike – and, in all fairness, the only true chance as this is the toughest stage. Following a hilly start and a flat intermediate section the race comes down to the final haul up to Arosa of almost 30 kilometres.
The Tour de Suisse concludes with a flat ITT of 34 kilometres. Strong time trialists such as Porte and Kelderman should be able to put approximately 1 minute into the likes of Quintana.
The 2018 edition of the Swiss race doesn’t include trying ascents like the Tiefenbachferner. The 14.2 kilometres climb at 9.5% had a huge impact on 2016’s and 2017’s GC, while this year’s route is more suited for GC-riders with strong time trialing skills.
Two former winners line-up in 2018 – Simon Spilak (2017,2015) and Roman Kreuziger (2008)
Favourites Tour de Suisse 2018
***** Nairo Quintana, Richie Porte, Wilco Kelderman
**** Mikel Landa, Bauke Mollema, Steven Kruijswijk
*** Simon Spilak, Ion Izagirre, Jakob Fuglsang
** Sam Oomen, Gorka Izagirre, Tejay van Garderen
* Mathias Frank, Patrick Konrad, Andrey Amador