A glance at the route tells me some things. One, having a good sprint is vital. Stage 1, stage 2, stage 3 and stage 4 could all come down to reduced bunch sprints. Overall, that is potentially 40 seconds in time bonuses. On the other hand, you must be able to climb well. The last day is going to see the biggest time gaps.
Kicking it off with a short prologue in Lausanne. A trademark move by the race. Normally, we see very small time gaps here.
Almost 3000 meters of climber. The circuit is well designed, with a 2 km climb at 6.1% and also an uphill kick to the line. It is likely going to be a GC day.
Another day of climbing. The one stage that is likely to come down to a reduced bunch sprint. It is also likely we see a breakaway win if the gaps on stage 1 are large enough.
The profile is fooling you unless you can read the gradients. 4.45 km at 5% is not going to make it a big GC day. A corner with 300 meters to go will make it important to have a strong team.
Over 4100 climbing meters. I think the GC will open up on the first cat climb and continue all the way to the finish. Nax is 10.22km at 7.72%, Les Pontis and Saint-Luc combined are 17.6 km at 5.6%. The final climb is firstly 20.3 km at 4.8%, it then flattens out, then 3.8 km at 4.4%.
Here is the most important day. The mountain time trial! The first five km are flat, here it is still possible to lose half a minute before you climb. I imagine we will see a lot of bike changes at the foot. It is a 10.8 km at 7.8% climb and was last used in 2018, seeing a young Bernal beating Roglic.
Good weather in the first days, but the more important GC days will see tough weather conditions.
Prologue: Looks dry in Lausanne.
Stage 1: Possible wet roads, 4 m/s from NE.
Stage 2: Sun, wind from NE (5 m/s)
Stage 3: Sun, wind from N (2 m/s)
Stage 4: Rainy and cold.
Stage 5: Rain, lots and lots of rain, and very cold.
Things to have in mind. Good in shitty weather conditions. Switzerland might be beautiful, but the weather there is unforgiving.
Bora-Hansgrohe has both Vlasov and Higuita. Now, that is a very strong duo. Both are flying just right now and they have the criteria to win. Vlasov has improved his TT skills, and the final TT should not be too long for him. Higuita will lose time against the clock but will likely score bonus seconds in some of the stages due to his fast sprint. It is not often the main favorite falls on neither UAE, Jumbo or INEOS.
Ben O’Connor has started winning. He is not as people make him against the clock. He is one of the best climbers here, he will be very difficult to drop. Remember, in Catalunya he was on the defence – he still did a very good job.
Caruso rarely wins but he has taken 5/7 of his pro wins in the last year. He proved in Sicily he is ready for another Giro d’Italia and he won’t mind the rain one bit. He has good support from Mader and Teuns, and he is also a rider who benefits from an uphill TT.
Ion Izagirre – crashed in LBL, still finished 28th. Basque Country was impressive from him, we will have to see if he has anything left. Two time trials and rain is certainly good for him.
Thomas is also a man suited for the race. Very active in LBL. He won here last year – but the uphill TT is not the best news for him. He will need to stay as close in the GC and hope he can finish it off. He will gain time in the first five km on the last stage, but I think he will lose more uphill.
Pinot – GC or stages? We will have to see. I do not recall if he is good in rain.
Cattaneo might sneak another result here. He found some very good form here last season, he might just do it again.
Who will win?
Given his current form and his improvement against the clock, my pick is Vlasov.