Tour de Romandie 2021 Preview
The Tour de Romandie is the final chance for the Giro d'Italia contenders to get a WorldTour level stage race in their legs before heading to Italy
The Tour de Romandie is a WorldTour level stage race held in the Romandie region of Switzerland and takes place from Tuesday 27th April to Sunday 2nd May.
The final WorldTour stage race before the Giro d'Italia, the race often features numerous time trials and difficulties in the Swiss Alps — perfect preparation for those looking to challenge for the maglia rosa at the Giro d'Italia.
The Tour de Romandie was cancelled in 2020 due to the global pandemic, it was previously won by Primoz Roglic in 2019 and 2018. The Slovenian won't start this year though with his goals firmly fixed on the Tour de France.
Related – Giro d'Italia 2021 Preview
Recently, the race has included two time-trials, one being a prologue which kicks-off the race. That doesn’t change this year with a 4km prologue around Oron. Although this stage is short, the final kilometre features pitches over 7.5% and will create the early separation.
Stage 1, coming after the prologue, mostly follows a 35km circuit in the Aigle and Martigny region – which the stage will circle four times. It will likely be transitional due to the flat run in to the line, although the Produit and Chamoson climbs will put many riders in a solid amount of discomfort with a 7% and 6.2% incline respectively. This stage is tailored to Peter Sagan or other riders that can climb capably whilst finishing swiftly.
Tour de Romandie 2021 Stage 1 (via La Flamme Rouge)
Stage 2 to Saint-Imier is more difficult with over 3,300 metres of climbing on the cards. The Col e la Vue-des-Alpes (7.8km @ 6.7%) is the final climb of the day, but the riders must descend 17km to the line after the peak. We could see many attacks go off the front here with few domestiques left to react.
Tour de Romandie 2021 Stage 2 (via La Flamme Rouge)
Stage 3 features short hills, Les Granges is a third category climb and occurs 9 kilometres for the finish. It is quite likely that a punchy sprinter or breakaway will win this one.
Stage 4 is undoubtedly the queen stage of this year's Tour de Romandie. The riders head from Sion to the monstrous Thyon 2000, a climb of 20.7km and an average gradient of 7.6%. The test is made even more punishing as the Anzere (14.6km @ 6.9%) and Suen (13.7km @ 6.7%) climbs precede it. The Tour de Romandie could be won or lost on this day.
Tour de Romandie 2021 Stage 4 (via La Flamme Rouge)
The GC contenders must have something left in the tank for the final stage, a 16.2km time-trial around Fribourg. This has the potential to turn the GC on it’s head, particularly if the time gaps are still close entering the stage.
Geraint Thomas (Image credit: William Cannarella/Cor Vos)
Bora-Hansgrohe bring many of their anticipated Tour de France leaders to Romandie this season, namely Lennard Kämna, Wilco Kelderman and Peter Sagan. Kämna's stock has continued to rise in 2021 after he won a stage at the Tour de France last season. He demonstrated an exciting attacking style at the Volta Catalunya which led to a breakaway stage win. He's not quite ready to challenge for the Tour de France yet, but Wilco Kelderman, the team’s new recruit, is a perennial GC contender. He was fifth overall at the Volta Catalunya amidst strong opposition in March, expect him to be a major challenger. Peter Sagan is still searching for his best legs after contracting COVID-19 earlier this year, he’ll use the Tour de Romandie as his final preparation for the Giro d’Italia/Tour de France double.
Two days on the time-trial bike? Well, no surprise to see Filippo Ganna present for the INEOS Grenadiers. Rohan Dennis joins him to make them the big favourites to win both the first and final day of the race. Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte also start, both will hope for some solid preparation ahead of the Tour de France and will start as INEOS' two GC leaders and the two favourites to win overall.
Marc Hirschi is set to lead Team UAE Emirates. The Swiss has started the 2021 season conservatively after an injury setback, but proved his best legs are all but back when he was sixth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He may not challenge overall, but will certainly look for a stage win or two with the help of the Rui Costa, Diego Ulissi and the talented Alessandro Covi.
Miguel Ángel López, or ‘Superman’ as he is more commonly known in Colombia, is set to make his long-awaited Movistar debut at the Tour de Romandie. It will be his first appearance since crashing out in the opening time-trial of the Giro d’Italia last year. He won on the Col de la Loze at the Tour de France last season where he defeated Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogačar. However, he also demonstrated his inferior time-trial ability a few days later which meant he dropped to sixth in the GC. On his day, López is one of the best climbers in the world — he’ll look to the Thyon 2000 with glee, not so much the time-trials, though.
Miguel Ángel López (Image credit: Presse Sports / Offside)
In the absence of Primoz Roglic, Sepp Kuss and Steven Kruijswijk lead Jumbo-Visma. Kuss has been among the world’s best climbers at times throughout the last 18 month despite working largely as a super-domestique. He’ll be keen to demonstrate his leadership qualities, although like López, the time-trial discipline is his weakness. Kruijswijk is much more capable on the time-trial bike but has struggled in the mountains so far this season. This is a big race for Kruijswijk who will want to ensure he’s on track for the Tour de France, particularly after Jumbo-Visma announced that talented Dane Jonas Vingegaard would also start at the Tour.
Although Ganna is the strong favourite for both time-trials, numerous other elite time-trialists are present, namely Stefan Küng. The Swiss finally defeated Ganna earlier this season at Tirreno-Adriatico only to be beaten by Wout Van Aert. He bounced back to win the Volta Valenciana time-trial, a result which led him to the overall victory there too. Remi Cavagna has started two time-trials in 2021 and finished second in both, he’d like to go one better here. An outlier to watch, Stefan Bissegger is one of the most stirring time-trial prospects around. He won the 14km time-trial at Paris-Nice this season on terrain that can be compared to stage 5 of this season's Tour de Romandie.
Cover image: Offside / LEquipe
How to watch it
Tour de Romandie will be shown from the 27th April to the 2nd May on Eurosport and on GCN+ in the UK and United States (amongst other territories).