Time trial and two summit finishes mark tough finale to Tour de Suisse
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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Time trial and two summit finishes mark tough finale to Tour de Suisse

by Shane Stokes at 9:30 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de Suisse
2012 route unveiled for pre-Tour test

Levi LeipheimerStarting with a 7.3 kilometre time trial in Lugano and covering 1400 kilometres plus 19,177 metres of climbing over nine days, the route of the 2012 Tour de Suisse was unveiled today by organisers IMG.

This year’s edition will begin on June 9th and will act as the final big tune-up prior to the Tour de France for many of the contenders, as well as an important chance to take a morale-boosting result. It features three big summit finishes, including the final day showdown on the climb at Sörenberg

Following the opening time trial, the race will move to Italy where the 218 kilometer second stage will begin in Verbania. The general classification will be shaken up by two hors categorie climbs; the 2005 metre Simplonpass and the 1472 climb of Verbier, where Alberto Contador seized yellow in the 2009 Tour de France.

As Beat Zberg, the race’s sports director and chief route designer says, the day is certain to shape the final overall result. “The tough final ascent to Verbier still has to be conquered after the Simplon Pass. Anyone hoping to do battle for an overall victory must lay their cards on the table right after the second stage,” he states.

Stage three from Martigny to Aarberg has enough flat sections along its 195 kilometre distance to lead to a bunch gallop, although the final thirty kilometres include the third category Frienisberg climb plus the fourth category Innerberg, which tops out just ten kilometres from the finish. These will give encouragement to attackers and ensure a lively finale.

Day four also provides platforms for aggressive racing; 81.5 kilometers after the drop of the flag in Aarberg, the riders will reach the summit of the first category Scheltenpass. After the descent, some undulating roads follow, including the climbs of Unter Hauenstein (cat 3, km 153.7) and Salhohe (cat 2, km 171). The finish in Trimbach/Olten comes eighteen kilometres after the latter. The big question is if it will give enough time for a big regrouping to take place.

The finish town will be the starting point for the following day’s 193 kilometre race to Gansingen, the first of two consecutive days which might – depending on how it plays out - suit sprinters such as Mark Cavendish (Sky Procycling), Tyler Farrar (Garmin Barracuda) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol). It includes six climbs, but all are third category, so it’s not certain that these will break the peloton up.

The following day is conducive to a big gallop. The 199 kilometre race from Wittnau to Bischofszell is lumpy in places, yet the mixture of three third and two fourth category ramps doesn’t look too severe. The fastmen will aim to make the most of the stage, because it will certainly be the last chance for them to clock up a win.

Once that’s completed, the real showdown in the race will begin. The three final days much tougher and will test all the riders. Stage seven is a 34.3 kilometre time trial starting and finishing in Gossau; Zberg makes it clear that it’s a demanding race against the clock.

“Hardly a single metre is straight, and the steady climb and lots of technically difficult sections makes the time trial particularly hard,” he said. “It will take a time trial supremo to secure victory on the day.” Last year's race winner Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma Quick Step) and Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack Nissan) will be two of those aiming to take top honours.

At 148 kilometres, the following day’s race from Bischofszell to Arosa is the shortest of the 2012 Tour de Suisse, but definitely a complicated stage. The final thirty kilometres are all uphill, with the seconds category climb of Castiel being followed by the summit finish atop the hors categorie Arosa. The peloton is certain to explode and the race leader will be under pressure.

The final stage bucks the trend in many races of being a largely processional one. It’s 215.8 kilometres in length and is extremely daunting, with the second category Rengg being followed by the hors categorie Glaubenbielen (km 137.7) and Glaubenberg (km 175.8) peaks. After the later, the riders will descent for approximately 15 kilometers, then begin the tough slog to the finish line atop the second category Sörenberg.

“Even during this stage a lot can still happen,” warn the organisers, and it’s hard to argue with that.

Tour de Suisse 2012 (WorldTour):

Stage 1, Saturday June 9: Lugano – Lugano TT, 7.3km
Stage 2, Sunday June 10: Verbania. (I) – Verbier, 218km
Stage 3, Monday June 11: Martigny – Aarberg, 195km
Stage 4, Tuesday June 12: Aarberg - Trimbach / Olten, 189km
Stage 5, Wednesday June 13: Olten / Trimbach – Gansingen, 193km
Stage 6, Thursday June 14: Wittnau - Bischofszell (TG), 199km
Stage 7, Friday June 15: Gossau ZH - Gossau ZH (Individual Time-Trial stages), 34.3km
Stage 8, Saturday June 16: Bischofszell (TG) – Arosa, 148
Stage 9, Sunday June 17: Näfels-Lintharenta – Sörenberg, 216


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