[Underneath article was written before the start of the Tour de Suisse and has not been updated]
The GC battle on the Tour of Switzerland comes down to five stages. The first gaps will be opened up in the short ITT on the first day of action before the likes of Peter Sagan, Michael Matthews and Greg Van Avermaet are offered the chance to shine for a few days on lumpy courses. In the last four days the Tour de Suisses turns to the mountains.
Stage 6 serves a summit finish atop the Flumserberg. The route itself is not too hard, yet the final haul up is a hard test: 10.8 kilometres at 9%. The breakaway is likely to be succesful before GC riders will try to gain time in the steep finale.
The Tour de Suisse kicks it up a notch in the 7th stage. Following a sheer endless intermediate climb – 19.8 kilometres at 3.9% – the finish lies at the Gotthard Pass. The final climb is tackled on the Via Tremola, the side with the peppered finale. The ascent is 13.5 kilometres long and the average slope sits at 7.1%, while the last 8 kilometres are a cobbled road.
Time trialists, such as Thomas and Kelderman, should gain time in the 8th stage – a flat ITT of 19.2 kilometres – before the Tour de Suiss goes out with a bang. The 9th stage travels over three massive passes – Furka (16.5 kilometres at 6.3%), Susten (17.4 kilometres at 7.5%), Grimsel (26 kilometres at 5.9%) – to a technical descent and a final section of 8 kilometres on the flat.
Three former winners line-up in 2019 – Simon Spilak (2017, 2015), Rui Costa (2014, 2013, 2012) and Roman Kreuziger (2008). Egan Bernal is the only contender who won a major race in 2019. The young Colombian came out on top in Paris-Nice.
Favourites Tour de Suisse 2019
***** Geraint Thomas, Enric Mas
**** Egan Bernal, Marc Soler
*** Wilco Kelderman, Simon Spilak, Hugh Carthy
** Fabio Aru, Rui Costa, Pierre Latour, Domenico Pozzovivo
* Carlos Betancur, Roman Kreuziger, Rohan Dennis, Patrick Konrad