Course Preview

Stage 5: Stäfa – Serfaus
Date: Wednesday, 17 June
Distance: 201.5 km
Terrain: Rolling roads that turn to Mountainous climbs in the Austrian Tyrol.

General classification leading into stage 5
1  Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale                  13:27:57
2  Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank                           :02
3  Peter Velits (Svk) Team Milram                              :11
4  Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Team Milram                          :13
5  Olivier Zaugg (Swi) Liquigas                                :14
6  Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank                      :20
7  Robert Kiserlovsky (Cro) Fuji-Servetto                      :34
8  Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas                              :42
9  Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana
10 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana                                 :45

GC Importance:  The stage is likely to be the key GC stage. The last 60km will shatter the bunch. Over the top of Arlberg expect there to be no more than 30 riders in contention. The last climb is touch enough to whittle the group down to ones and twos, nevertheless the time gaps wont be huge.

Climbs: The Queen Stage of the 2009 race entails 3115m of climbing over categorised climbs to Ricken (798m), Wildhaus (1090m), Arlberg Pass (1793m), and Serfaus (1429m).

Details:  For the second time in this year’s race, the route takes the riders outside of Switzerland to Serfaus in Austria. This stage is the regarded as the hardest of this year’s event with a number of substantial categorized climbs having to be passed during the stage.

With the stage starting where it finished the day before in Stäfa, the riders head in the direction of Rapperswil and on to the town of Eschenbach which at only 13km sees the first climbing of the day. At that point the riders will commence climbing over 300m of altitude to the town of Ricken which lies at 23.7km. The climb is uncategorized and the riders are likely to be intact at this point.

After a short decent to Wattwil the riders will start to gradually encounter difficult rolling roads, climbing all the time to the third category summit at Wildhaus after 58km. The race is likely to be intact here, although a solo rider or small group may have been let go by now. The riders cross into Austria after 80km.

The real racing may not start until the riders have gone through the feed at Nenzing (after 100km), at that point the road will be gradually climbing once again towards Bludenz (95.1km to go) where the category 1 climb of the Arlberg Pass officially starts.

Yet, the first 20km of the climb are barely noticeable, with very minor gradients – and generally an easy climb. When the riders get to Klösterle, the climb noticeably kicks-up for the final 10km to the summit. These final 10km are bound to see some real actions. Once over the top, the riders will face a very fast and long decent which brings them into the Inn Valley to the sprint at Urgen with 22km to go. Now the road will start to rise again through steep gradients on the 10km first category climb to Ladis. Once through the prime at the top (7km to go) the climbing continues, albeit at a gentler rate for three further kilometers to the 3rd category prime just 3.5km from the finish. 

Today will be the day that all GC hopefuls will be pinning their flags to the mast. Look out for Kloeden here, he's likely to declare war on his rivals. The Schlecks will be waiting for their move. My money is on Frank and Roman to have a Battle Royal. — Edward Madden Gavia (updates to this preview will be made during the race and especially the day before the stage with current analysis)<-->