Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Romandie: Outsiders And Pretenders


With the classics season out of the way for another year, its now Grand Tour territory and the big guns are coming out to play. The Tour de Romandie is traditionally a prep race for those planning on riding the Giro or indeed the Tour de France and along with Paris-Nice it's one of the earliest occasions where we see the contenders really eye up each others form...


Looking at the Startlist (HERE) it certainly doesn't disappoint when it comes to the big names. Theres riders here clearly looking to fine tune their condition in preparation for both the Giro and Tour, such as Bradley Wiggins - here to get some miles in as vital warm up for the Tour de France alongside the likes of Ivan Basso (who looks like he's gone at the cake hard all winter!) looking to shift those final few (quite a few) pounds ready for the Giro d'Italia. Alongside the big boys however are the outsiders or the young pretenders looking to perform well here in Romandie with a view to riding well in the Grand Tours also, I have picked out 5 riders who I think can take it to the GC guys or might be a good outside bet to win the Overall Classification in the Tour of Romandie starting today...

Richie Porte - Team Sky

Always up there on the climbs Richie Porte is a valuable asset for Bradley Wiggins and at some point Wiggins is going to have to repay that debt. Sky also need to have a back-up plan in place in case Wiggins can't make the Tour of turns up in poor form - make no mistake, Bradley Wiggins will lead Sky in Romandie, but should Richie Porte find himself riding exceptionally well it wouldn't be to hard to turn the tables and reward Porte with a GC win of his own...

Christopher Froome - Team Sky

Similar in situation to Richie Porte, another wingman in which Bradley Wiggins will be looking to keep sweet come the Tour in July. We have seen what Froome is capable of in last years Vuelta, eventually superseding Wiggins and taking second overall. Also worth a mention is the fact that both Froome and Porte can Time Trial and there are two in Romandie, the opening prologue and the final stage 6 - a lack of up-hill finishes means the TT's will likely decide the winner...

Lieuwe Westra - Vaconsoleil

Vaconsoleil have had a positive start to the season, Lieuwe Westra especially. Second overall at Paris-Nice and Three Days of De Panne surely make him a contender from Romandie. Another great Time Trialist Westra has also lost weight and started developing on his climbing as of late, evident with a fantastic up-hill win on stage 5 of Paris-Nice this year. A definite threat...

Pierre Rolland - Europcar

The Frenchman is really starting to come of age. Finishing 10th overall in last years Tour de France Pierre Rolland battled valiantly in support of team leader Tommy Voekler, looking as strong if not stronger than his team boss. Rolland even took victory in stage 19 on the infamous Alpe D'Huez pipping Samuel Sanchez and of course Alberto Contador to the Line leading Lance Armstrong to describe him as a 'Rock Star'. Rolland looked good in Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He certainly has the legs.

Ryder Hesjedal - Garmin Barracuda

Commonly finding himself in the top 10 on many a race finish sheet Hesjedal has been around the block a little. An attacking, aggressive rider Hesjedal finished 6th in the 2010 Tour de France and placed 18th last year. He comes into this race after a 9th place at Liege-Bastogne-Liege where he looked in good shape. He rides here alongside Dan Martin who made the podium in 3rd place at Liege and who also could be a contender here...

Conclusion

There's definitely plenty to see here in the Tour de Romandie, we will see who's looking good for the Giro and the Tour respectively and a few early battles will ensue as the race takes off. Its also a good race for one of the lesser contenders to take victory, make an impact show their intentions and announce their arrival ahead of the Grand Tours...

2 comments:

  1. Good preview Gavin. I'd be surprised to see Chris Froome going well in this one. It's his first race since Volta a Algarve, when he came down with a chest infection that took him nearly a month to recover from. He's since had more treatment for bilharzia and arrives at Romandie with just three solid weeks of training under his belt, so this race is more likely to be about riding himself back into race fitness.

    As for Richie Porte, I also fancy his chances. Yes, he worked very hard for Wiggins at Paris-Nice. But before then, Wiggins had already played team mate to him at Volta Algarve when Porte took the overall. If Porte goes for GC I think it will be more about taking the pressure off Wiggins than 'repaying' him.

    I'll also be interested to see how Cadel Evans' form is. He missed LBL with a sinus infection.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Geoff, some very valid comments there.

      I agree Froome has had a torrid time of late, but it will be interesting to see just where his form is at.

      I too think Porte may take the lead in this one as a strategic measure - Porte will certainly be working hard for Wiggins when the Tour comes around.

      Cadel Evans form is hard to place bit I would certainly put him as a race favourite, alongside Wiggins, Menchov, Kreuziger and possibly Kloden...

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