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Tour de Romandie Preview

The Tour de Romandie, starting Tuesday in the Romandie region of western Switzerland, is sort of a scenic, European Tour de Georgia. Like the TdG, Romandie features six days of racing, including a moderate climbing day, a horrible climbing day, and a time trial to sort things out. Replace cheese grits, one rollers stage, and a decisive climbing stage after the time trial with fondue, a prologue, and a decisive time trial after the mega-climbing stage, and you've got Romandie.

Chat and links on the flip:

Like Rabobank in the Amstel Gold Race, all the pressure will be on the home team Phonak to defend their back-to-back titles (Botero last year, Hamilton in 2004). And defend it they probably will, since if we've learned one thing this year, it's that the rider who wins is almost always going to be one of the guys who really wants it.

And, like the TdG, it's hard to tell who else besides Phonak and a handful of other Swiss riders like Beat Zberg (Gerolsteiner) really want this. Phonak will be riding this year for Alexander Moos or maybe Perdiguero, one of the animators at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. There's no way I'd pick this Phonak squad over CSC, led by Bobby Julich, if I thought CSC wanted this win. But Julich, like many riders, is tuning up for the Giro in two weeks, and can't be expected to burn as many matches as will be needed to get over the penultimate stage Saturday, which includes three cat-1 climbs and 8,000 feet of elevation gain. Incidentally, this day will be by far the most-watched, mainly to see if Jan Ullrich can avoid being eliminated for failing to finish within 10 percent (maybe 45 minutes?) of the winning time. The best time-trialer to make it over the mountains will probably win the race in Sunday's time trial, a rugged 20km jaunt around Lausanne... unless the climbers get way away on Saturday. This is the biggest difference with the TdG, where Landis took the time trial and hung onto Danielson's wheel in the climb. Here the calculus is different: the climbers know they have to put as much time as possible into the time trialers to survive.

Despite its pro tour status, there aren't a ton of resources out there. The race website looks decent enough, if you read some French. Otherwise, gotta be content with the usual datadump from Cycling News, including the only known generic preview available right now.