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Tour de Romandie Course Preview

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Cobbles,  Leffe, Degenkolb, Chimay, Kristoff, Westvleteren, Valverde, Amstel, Ardennes, Rochefort.  I know you are all in Classics withdrawal.  But I have the cure: Swiss stage racing.  The six day Tour de Romandie starts Tuesday.

It's a Jura mountains focused course this year.  We'll see numerous lakes  and vineyards, we'll climb to ski stations, and, hopefully, we'll see lots and lots of cows. And, of course, conforming to Swiss law, the peloton will cycle past UCI headquarters in Aigle while visiting the Alps.

The Tour de Romandie has been raced since 1947. Romandie refers to the French speaking region of Switzerland - approximately 20% of the population - in the western edge of the country. A list of former Romandie winners reads like a who's who of cycling: Merckx, Hinault, Bartali, Koblet, Thévenet, Zoetemelk, Roche, Rominger, Evans, etc.

This year will have a strong field as usual with Christopher Froome in search of a hat-trick, after victories in  2013, and 2014.  Additionally, we'll see the entire 2014 Tour de France podium:  Nibali, Péraud, and Pinot, as well as Quintana.

Links:

  • Official Race Site: here (English/French/German).
  • Official list of teams and riders here (may not be completely up-to-date).
  • CyclingFever start list here.
  • Maps, profiles, times, and fly-throughs for every stage here.
  • Leader Jerseys here.
  • Official Twitter feed @TourDeRomandie (usually French but speaks English)
  • An excellent free official race iPhone app and Android app (search your stores)
  • Television coverage: See here for Television options by country/region and I am sure as always that steephill.tv will provide other viewing options.

OVERVIEW OF THE 6 STAGES:

Stage One - 19.2 kms (team time trial)

Officially labeled Stage One, this is prologue length.  A contre-la-montre-par-équipe at altitude - the entire route is above 1000 metres with much of the course along side Lac de Joux. The uphill near the end is less steep than the profile suggests.  Maybe 3% or so.

For the Tourists:  The race ends at Juraparc.  No dinosaurs here, but there are bears, lynx, bison, wolves, przewalski horses, etc.

prol

Stage Two - 168.1 kms (mountains)

A tough Jura mountain stage with four categorised climbs. It starts in Apples - which is next to the village of Bière! Unsurprisingly the view of the Alps can be pretty great from Col de la Vue des Alpes. It's also a little alpine/nordic ski area.  There is a 50 km loop at the end of the route, allowing fans at the finish to see the peloton twice. Nice.

stage1

For the Tourists: The early part of the stage will pass by the region where absinthe was first made. Watch out for fairies?

Stage Three - 172.5 kms (mid-mountains)

Another very hilly Jura mountains stage.  The course includes three different loops, again, great extra viewing for the roadside fans. While none of the climbs are particularly high or tough, this is one of those routes that is rarely flat.

stage3

For the Tourists:  Near the finish town of Porrentruy is one of the most significant discoveries of Dinosaur tracks in Europe.  150 million years old. See here. Eat your heart out, Mr Spielberg.

Stage 4 - 169.8 kms (mid-mountains)

Another very hilly stage starting at the foot of the Jura mountains, crossing the Swiss Plateau, and brushing up against the edge of the Vaudoise Alps.

stage4

For the Tourists: The route just misses the medieval perched castle/village of Gruyère, but the riders will ride along side Lac de Gruyère.  Home of our favourite cycling cheese:

Stage 5 - 162.7 kms (Queen Stage)

Welcome to the Alps.  Without a doubt, the Queen Stage. From Fribourg the route will run along the other side of Lac de Gruyère and gently climb for 40 kilometres until Col des Mosses - home of the world's largest boxing frog:

Then a hair raising descent to the feed station at Aigle.  Perhaps Mr. Cookson will be handing out musettes?  The next two climbs are typical after-work climbs for UCI employees - very nice. The final climb to Champex-Lac - across the valley from Verbier - is tough: steep and full of hairpins. Ouch.

stage 5

champex

**NB** - I think the stage finishes before the downhill stretch in the above profile.


For the Tourists: Champex-Lac is known as "Switzerland's little Canada."  Vast forests, cross-country and alpine skiing, and a beautiful lake. Charlie Chaplin liked it there.

Stage 6 - 17.3 kms (time trial)

A scenic Time Trial around Lausanne finishing on the banks of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva).

r6

For the Tourists: Literally beside the finish line is the fabulous Olympic Museum (Lausanne is the world headquarters of the IOC).  Recently re-opened after two years of renovation, this museum is full of videos, interactive exhibits, famous equipment (eg. a bunch of old bikes), etc. It is a must for sports fans of all ages.  It includes an excellent section on cycling.  Statue out front:

museum


Final Thoughts:

I like this course.  Nothing too crazy, but it's either hills or time trials.  An interesting route with an excellent Queen stage.   Thibault Pinot for the win !!!!