The Tour de Suisse, which was first staged in 1933, begins with a 170 km long stage starting in Schaffhausen, in the north of the country. The first GC selection is expected on Sunday, when the riders tackle a 36 km time trial stage in and around Weinfelden. While stages one, four and five will offer the sprinters a chance to flex their muscles, stage three, which finishes atop St. Anton (in Austria), and the summit finishes in Arosa (stage six) and Verbier (stage eight) will certainly test the climbing legs in the peloton.
Jan Ullrich – On Home Soil
Last year's winner Jan Ullrich has an added incentive to perform well (as if one was needed) - the race starts close to his Swiss home. Talking on his website he said -
"This year, I am not eyeballing outright victory. For sure, if the opportunity is there to fight for a stage win, then I am not going to say no, or squeeze on the brakes. But I am here to see how I perform in the mountains, go flat out in the time trial and basically to fine-tune my form for the Tour.
"The fact that the Tour de Suisse practically starts in my back garden on Saturday and then takes in some of my usual training routes in some stages, gives me extra incentive. Hopefully there will also be plenty of supporters around to cheer us on.
"The (mountain) stages will give me a chance to test my climbing form. I want to showing myself at the front of affairs on at least one or two stages."
Last Chance for Beloki?
This will be Joseba Beloki’s last chance to earn a Tour ride after what has been another disappointing comeback season. The Liberty Seguros website reports -
Today Joseba Beloki, along with the rest of the Liberty Seguros-Würth team that will appear tomorrow in the Tour de Suisse, travelled from Madrid to Zurich looking forward to taking part in a race where he has to obtain his passport for the next Tour de France.
The team's manager, Herminio Díaz Zabala, is optimistic about Beloki's form. "All those who did the Giro d'Italia have already had time to rest and to recover. I think Joseba is better than in Italy and I hope Koldo Gil and Giampaolo Caruso are too". Another strong rider is David Etxebarria, who must prove that he has also improved since the Euskal Bizikleta in the time trial on Sunday.
After the first stage with a possible sprint finish, the Tour de Suisse will really begin on Sunday, with a time trial of over 35 kilometres where the favourites will begin to take their positions.
Evans – Not 100%
Cadel Evans, on the come back from yet another injury-plagued season, is hoping that he leaves the race in better form than he starts it. He has been training in the French Alps and is hoping to come into form throughout this race. He rides alongside a strong Australian presence with Nick Gates and Robbie McEwen. Fast Freddie Rodriguez flies the stars and stripes while Nico Mattan and Wim Vansevenant add traditional names. Leon Van Bon is in doubt to start the race.