EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale will send a stage-hunting squad to the Tour de Suisse, which begins on Saturday in Frauenfeld, Switzerland. Matti Breschel, Nate Brown, Hugh Carthy, Will Clarke, Joe Dombrowski, Taylor Phinney, and Sep Vanmarcke make up the team for the nine-day trek around Switzerland.
“I like Switzerland and the Suisse race because it’s a beautiful country, the climbs generally suit me, and the pavement is good. The only downside sometimes can be the weather. If it rains can be nasty and cold. Otherwise it’s great,” said Joe Dombrowski. “This year is different than others because it is further from the Tour de France, so I would say that it’s a pretty strong field. Normally you’d have a number of Tour riders racing Dauphiné instead.”
The parcours is a balanced one, with opportunities for varying types of riders. The race opens and closes with time trials. A team chrono comes first. An individual effort on stage nine in Bellinzona will likely decide the overall winner. There are two mountain-top finishes and another mountain stage tossed in for good measure. The race lists the stage from Oberstammheim to Gansingen as suitable for a classics rider, while two circuit stages will offer chances for sprinters. But, as Dombrowski notes, the route isn’t as climb-focused as those in the past.
“The stages aren’t particularly hard compared to normal. There’s a lot of time trialling kilometres and there’s two uphill finishes but I think they both are fairly shallow gradients and kick up just at the end,” said Dombrowski. “It’s probably similar to the Suisse Cancellara won back in 2009.”
“We’ve some of our heavy hitters going, guys like Sep, Taylor and Matti. Will Clarke is also a guy who is aggressive and is prepared to race hard. These guys will be looking to create opportunities on the flatter stages,” Southam said. “The climbers we have all come from the Giro team. I expect them to be particularly hungry for success.”
Southam also sees teams taking a hard look at the team time trial since the TDF also sees a team effort against the clock. Suisse represents the last chance before La Grande Boucle to assess the discipline in a race setting.
“The team time trial will be interesting to give everyone a measure of where they stand pre-July,” Southam noted. “And stage three into Gansingen looks like it will produce an interesting final.”
EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale for the 2018 Tour de Suisse
Matti Breschel (DEN)
Nate Brown (USA)
Hugh Carthy (GBR)
Will Clarke (AUS)
Joe Dombrowski (USA)
Taylor Phinney (USA)
Sep Vanmarcke (USA)