Course PreviewStage 2: Davos - Davos
Date: Sunday, 14 June
Distance: 149.8 km.
Terrain: Rolling and mountain roads in a loop around Davos. The stage finishes with a climb to Davos.
GC Importance: This stage is likely to be tough, but probably not quite hard enough to create enormous time gaps between the main contenders for the GC. The bunch will certainly split on the stage, and expect the top 25-30 riders at the end of the day to be the only real contenders for the overall.
Climbs: The race starts in Davos and climbs the short distance to the top of the nearby Wolfgang Pass (1631m). The final half of the race is defined by a climb back up to Davos via the first category summit at Wiesen (1421m). After a brief decent the road turns upward again and the riders crest the third category Davos Glaris (1470m) just 10km out from the finish (1560m).
Details: The days stage starts and finishes high up in the Swiss Alps in the famous city of Davos. This is the highest city in Europe, and is famous for hosting the annual World Economic Forum. Davos is also the home of the largest ski resort in Switzerland.
After the roll out, the riders will tackle the short climb over the Wolfgang Pass. The TdS has visited the Wolfgang Pass 13 times in the past, but on this day the riders will be hitting the Pass with just a little climbing to go to the top. This may present an opportunity for some riders to try to attempt a long solo or small group break. If someone gets away at this stage, it is likely that they will be able to stay in front for a substantial part of the stage, particularly in light of the long decent to come.
Once at the Wolfgang Pass, the riders will commence a very long and fast decent that goes on for in excess of 45km. At the bottom of the decent the riders will reach the town of Landquart and will head out on a small loop that brings them back to Landquart again and then on to the town of Chur, which lies at the foot of many climbs, including the difficult climb to Arosa (not in this year’s route).
Just outside of Chur (after 74km) the riders will contest the first real sprint of this years race. The « Würth Sprint » will take place outside the headquarters of Würth, one of the main sponsors of the race. At that point the route will turn in the direction Domat Ems (the start town of Stage 3 last year) to commence the climb back to Davos. Before this real difficulty the riders will reach the feed station after 83km.
The race will now be two hours old and if a break succeeded earlier on, there is chance that their life in the front of the race is about to be cut short. The arrival at Domat Ems is most likely going to signal the start of the real racing. The road will start to roll and climb more as the riders begin to leave the Rhine Valley will start to face numerous short stabbing climbs.
After 100km of racing the riders will arrive at Sils im Domleschg. Here the route noticeably kicks up at a gradual rate. The riders will have a clear view of the difficult terrain ahead, and after going through three long tunnels cut into the side of the mountain, the real climbers should be moving towards the front. Expect the GC contenders to be gearing up for action now.
The real test of the day will be the remainder of the category 1 climb which continues for the next 16km to the summit. The only respite on this difficult climb will be a slight flattening of the parcours 7km from the summit. The organisers have decided to slot in another sprint at this point, in the town of Alvaneu. It is difficult to see any sprinters being around at that point. From there the climb continues with 28km to go to the finish and 8km to the summit at Wiesen. The final two kilometers of the climb are particularly difficult, and it is likely to present an opportunity for an attack.
Over the top there is a very short decent before the route turns up towards Davos. The gradient now will be more manageable. The final climb (category 3) tops out at Davos Frauenkirch with just 8km to go. With 6km to go, the riders will contest another sprint. At this point in the race we will likely just have a small group of contenders left at the front.
This is the type of stage which will suit power climbers rather than the pure mountain goats. Once the tough ascent to Wiesen is out of the way, power will be needed. Expect Kreuziger to really show here as should Karpets and Kirchen. The yellow jersey will probably change hands tonight. — Edward Madden — Gavia (updates to this preview will be made during the race and especially the day before the stage with current analysis)<-->