56th Tour de Romandie - 2002
30 April - 5 May 2002 Hors Category
30.04 - Prologue: Geneva 3,2 kms
01.05 - stage 1: Geneva - Malleray / Bévilard 187 km
02.05 - stage 2: Bellelay - Charmey / La Gruyere 172,8 km
03.05 - stage 3: Pringy / La Gruyere - Sierre 180,3 km
04.05 - stage 4: Sierre - Leysin 144,4 km
05.05 - stage 5: Lausanne Ind. Time Trial 20.7kms
Race Director Tony Rominger certainly knows how to organise a race which should test the competitors and keep the fans interest until the very last moment ,Starting with a traditional short prologue in order to introduce the 136 riders to the public and establish a pecking order the race reflects “tony the tiger’s” great interests in cycling , climbing and time trailing .
Over the 706 kilometre route there are 6717 metres of climbing and only stage three looks like a sprinters day out - . Stage 1 has 1690 metres of climbs including at around the half way stage of the 187 route the Col des Etroits (1153) and just before the finish in Malleray the tricky ascent of the Col de Pierre Pertuis .Stage two has a similar difficult finish with the Chatel sur Monsalvens climb positioned just before the end of the 187 kms route into Charmey .
Stage 4 is the Queen stage - a massive 2937 metres of climbing over 144 kilometres .The route crosses the Col des Planches , the Villars sur Ollon before the mountain finish in Leysin (1318) . As you would expect from the former hour record holder the race finishes with a 20.7 kilometre time trial - which should ensure a dramatic finish and great excitement for the fans .
With 17 teams , 6 in the UCI top ten the , the competion will be as fierce and cut throat as ever . Last years winner , Dario Frigo , returns to defend his jersey and , hopefully repair his tarnished reputation with his new Tacconi team .Fassa Bortolo have Wladimir Belli (Ita) , who was third last year (although he had sacrificed himself for Frigo during the race ) , Ivan Basso , Serhiv Honchar and Marco Velo - although surprisingly no place for Sven Montgomery who was a revelation in the race last year .
Giuseppe Guerini (Ita) is leading a Telekom team that is taking shape for the forthcoming Giro . Kevin Livingston will be at hand to help in the mountains , while Hondo and Fagnini will be looking to score on stage three . Injury hit Rabobank willl be looking towards Markus Zberg (Swi) and Levi Leipheimer (Usa) to bring some early tour season joy to what has been so far a season of crashes ,accidents and disappointments .
Do the mighty Mapei ever field a weak squad? Certainly not in this race - Cadel Evans leads the squad . It is the sort of race that the sensation from Oz will be targeting this season as a major goal - but if he fails Bodrogi , Canada and Noe are all capable of victory - and Hunter may surprise us again too.
Fresh from training on the Giro route Tyler Hamilton (Usa) (CSC-Tiscali) should be in good form if he wants to show in the Giro , and it will be interesting to see how the mixture of Spainish (Sastre),Danish (Rasmussen) ,and Italian (Peron) team cope at this level of racing
With the exception of Garate and Codol the Lampre boys have had little to write home about - just as well then they are included in the team which will be hoping that Pavel Tonkov can regain former greatness .
There are no echelons formed in the mountains - so naturally Euskaltel-Euskadi and Kelme -Costa -Blanca will be hoping for a stage win - and if Santiago Botero Echeverry (Kelme) can carry on in last years form maybe the jersey will be heading back to Spain for the first time since Olano won in 1997 .
Such is the growing strength of German cycling both Coast (David Plaza Romero ) and Gerolsteiner (Georg Totschnig) are also eentered this year - which must be the first time three teams from Germany have competed in a HC event . In form Saulius Ruskys will be looking to compete for the sprint on day three .
Saeco have yet to announce their team so whether Simoni or Di Luca lead the red train across the mountains of Romandy waits to be seen . Cofidis represent French interests - although even they only field two French riders - more USA riders in a HC tour than Frenchmen - how times have changed !
Cipollini ( Acqua & Sapone) will not ride and leaves Colombo to defend the Zebra men’s interests . Landbouwkrediet-Colnago once again have the great Yaroslav Popovych riding and finally only a fool would discount the interests of the fast rising Phonak Hearing team - who will be determined to put on a great show during their home tour .
It’s always a great race - don’t touch that dial all the news on your Daily Peloton
2001 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
2000 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Saeco-Valli & Valli
1999 Laurent Jalabert (Fra) ONCE-Deutsche Bank
1998 Laurent Dufaux (Swi) Festina
1997 Pavel Tonkov (Rus)
1996 Abraham Olano (Spa)
1995 Tony Rominger (Swi)
1994 Pascal Richard (Swi)
1993 Pascal Richard (Swi)
1992 Andrew Hampsten (USA)
1991 Tony Rominger (Swi)
1990 Charly Mottet (Fra)