I must say one thing about the Swiss. They do make terrible stage profiles. The first stage has 2800 climbing meters and is a circuit just south of Zurich.
They are going clockwise on the circuit. It has two climbs, both of them category 3. If you ask me, there is another vital point in this stage.
The first cat 3 climb is not very demanding. I will add to the fatigue but likely not be a key point.
The next is the descent down to the city of Erlenbach. It does not look like much below, but the roads are not very wide. It is very steep and they will go very fast. They will get used to it, but I will still be nervous watching them go through it.
The final climb and the run-in to the line. It is 2.5 km at 7.3% before it eases out. We have a few smaller hills but no descent to recover.
There is close to no wind near the course. There will be no rain at all and it will be 27 degrees C. This will be a hot and difficult first day.
How will the stage unfold?
With almost 3000 climbing meters and no one holding the leader’s jersey, we could see a morning breakaway going all the way. It is not impossible, but it is a bit unlikely. I think it will be up to the teams with a sprinter.
BikeExchange has Matthews. We have seen them being very eager to take a pull at the front of the peloton in France this week. He is one of the main favorites today and it would surprise me if they do not do their part.
INEOS has Pidcock. The young Brit has had a bad year. It is time for a good race, otherwise, I really doubt he will ride the Tour in three weeks. He has simply been very bad. He is very, very fast but the team will also need to look after Yates and Martinez.
It is the two main teams. UAE is likely to put a rider at work for Hirschi, the same can be argued for Cosnefroy at AG2R and perhaps Bevin for Israel – PT who also has two GC men here.
It should be a day for the bunch, but it is not 100% certain.
Matthews – I expect the whole team behind him. As they only start the race with six riders, they will use a lot of energy early. It could leave him a bit on his own in the finale. As it will be a reduced bunch sprint, it should not be too big of a problem.
Pidcock – I do hope his season will turn now. I have had a very hard time rating his level this year. Always miscalculate it. If he is close to his best, then we all know just how fast he is in a flat sprint after 3000 climbing meters.
Hirschi – it was a dominant sprint victory on home soil at Grosser Preis des Kantons Aargau. He is looking sharp. I imagine UAE will make the climb as hard as possible to limit the number of attacks and make the life of Matthews as hard as possible.
Bevin – DNF in Norway but no news about it. 29th in Grosser Preis des Kantons Aargau was is not very promising, but he is a rider I do like. Thus far in 2022, he has beaten Hayter and a few good sprinters in bunch sprints. He climbs well for his size, but his form is a bit unknown.
Cosnefroy – is another quick rider. He was 2nd overall in Boucles de la Mayenne – he is going well.
Evenepoel – I guess he will attack. Quick-Step do not have much of an option as they do not have any sprinter. Given his form only a few riders will be able to follow him. If he can gain time in the GC he will just go deep. His sprint is not half bad either, but I think a few riders mentioned here are faster.
SKA – in a scenario where attacks are neutralized at the top or just after, teams are low on helpers and everybody is trying to reorganize their team ahead of the sprint, SKA is a perfect option.
Who will win?
It will all depend on how the last climb is raced. I vote for very, very hard. Therefore, I will take a win for Marc Hirschi who is looking superb.