1st André Greipel 2nd Fernando Gaviria 3rd Dylan Groenewegen
A day of short and sharp climbs should offer us a look at the typical classics styled riders as they battle it out for stage honours on the fourth day’s run from Montalto di Castro to Foligno. The day’s 222km distance looks set to severely thin the bunch ahead of the finale, promising to deliver an elite bunch of riders who have survived the attrition rate in order to battle it out for the win. The finale itself is a simple enough run into the finishing straight, but it is the preceding trio of potent climbs which possess gradients of almost 20% which look set to decide the victor here today.
Peter Sagan has what it takes to survive this type of terrain at the front of affairs and still turn in a strong enough sprint to take the win; a victory which would be his first in the rainbow stripes of the World Champion’s jersey. Fernando Gaviria silenced any suggestions that he may be fatigued after arriving here off the back of a testing Track World Championships by winning yesterday’s stage in convincing fashion. The young Colombian has a phenomenal turn of speed, but it is instead his ability to climb which circles him as a contender here and his current form only cements this possibility further still. Edvald Boasson Hagen could feature well here, but there are strong suggestions that the roadbook does the climbs here little justice in regards to severity, potentially proving too tough for the in-form Norwegian to stay in touch and contest the sprint. A man likely to allow Sagan and Tinkoff to do all the work is Greg Van Avermaet, the Belgian rider taking confidence from his recent sprint showings against the World Champion into the stage, though he will have to be in great shape to survive these late ascents. Those who could cause a stir in a sprint or even breakaway include Leigh Howard, Nikia Arndt, Giovanni Visconti and Luka Mezgec.
1st Peter Sagan 2nd Nikia Arndt 3rd Fernando Gaviria
Assuming that all goes to plan on the final day of this year’s Dubai Tour, the limelight should once again return upon the shoulders of the sprinters. A 137km finale to this increasingly popular race will see out the four days, a simple enough stage which should produce a frantic finish. With a few roundabouts and tight turns close to the line, there is still enough here to cause a surprise though.
Marcel Kittel looks to be in indomitable form right now and it is hard to see past him for the win on Stage 4. Another man enjoying a great start to the year is Giacomo Nizzolo, though he will have his work cut out in order to get past the powerful German here. His leadouts are certainly inconsistent, but should everything fall into place today for Elia Viviani, he is one of the few with potentially a potent enough turn of speed to beat Kittel.
1st Marcel Kittel 2nd Giacomo Nizzolo 3rd Elia Viviani
Sprinting should once again be on the agenda to decide the outcome at the Tour Down Under, but it is uncertain who exactly the finale will favour. Stretching 138km from Norwood to Victor Harbor, the day’s racing is rolling for the most part, but it is the inclusion of the Category 2 Kirby Hill which is bound to have the biggest impact upon the outcome. At 4km long and averaging 5.6%, it is sure to blunt some sprinting hopeful’s speed before the finish and even reaches 10% towards the summit. Just under 20km will remain once completed, instigating a frantic chase to the line, tackling a couple of lesser bumps en route to the finish as well.
Giacomo Nizzolo suits today’s challenges particularly well, the Italian being one of the most proficient climbers amongst the sprinters, but his current form has not yet cemented enough thus far to back him wholeheartedly. José Joaquín Rojas might find himself sprinting against teammate Juan José Lobato on Stage 4 instead of combing their efforts, as Movistar often allow the two to contest such stages separately. Regardless of the questions this tactic raises, Rojas fits the bill well today and will feel confident of being in the shake up for the win; his condition looks promising right now too. The most in form rider right now who could compete for stage honours here is Caleb Ewan, the young Australian is riding imperiously so far this year and has the riders at his disposal to guide him into the finish perfectly.
1st José Joaquín Rojas 2nd Giacomo Nizzolo 3rd Caleb Ewan
The biggest contrast in regards to the styling of this year’s Vuelta a España stages is evident on day four, the second longest day in the saddle clocks in at unusually lengthy 209.4km for this Spanish grand tour. Thankfully for the peloton which has to contest this affair beneath a sweltering climate, the route is predominately flat and hostilities are unlikely to be ignited before the lumpy finish catches the eye of puncheurs and strongmen alike.
Leaving Estepona, the riders shall find themselves on extremely flat terrain immediately after their departure from the start. This heavily costal focused route will bring crosswinds into play, something which many could underestimate on a day which is meant to be tactically bland for the general classification motivated squads. Should gales indeed begin to howl and scythe their way through the peloton, panic will spread like wild fire as team leaders strive fervently to stay represented in the lead echelon on the road. Movistar and Alejandro Valverde will perhaps be the most aware of this threat after the Spanish rider lost any hope of a Tour de France placing in the 2013 edition of the race, due to an attack from Contador’s Tinkoff-Saxo in the midst of such crosswinds.
A total absence of categorised climbs on Stage 4 means the breakaway will see little reward for their efforts beyond the usual desire of making it onto TV for the sponsors; especially the smaller teams racing here. The first introduction of climbing comes between 20km – 33km, but this is relatively rolling and will see a relaxed peloton snake their way across these minor hills. The day’s highest point comes at 70km and is followed by only a couple more lumps and bumps en route to the extremely tough finishing circuit in Vejer de la Frontera. Less than 5km will remain as the likely fireworks begin to erupt upon the final climb in order to survive and succeed through this harsh selection of riders who hope to contest the win.
This constant drag only lasts about a kilometre but encompasses gradients of 12% which swing upwards to 18%, despite its limited length. Over the top leads to a false summit which remains fluctuating minutely for a little over a kilometre, before then dropping down subtlety to 500m from the finishing line, at which point it becomes uphill all the way to the line. Had those eyeing up the win here not already deemed this a sufficiently testing run to the finish, the extremely technical nature of the conclusion will exaggerate the 12% – 14% slopes as the narrowing road encompasses a couple of hairpin bends in order to make the fight for space increasingly aggressive. It lessens to 4.5% in final meters to the line, which means any puncheur who possesses a strong sprint in order to dispatch any remaining rivals will be a clear favourite to win.
Alejandro Valverde is the clear favourite for the majority of pundits on a course finale which he would struggle to better if given the task of designing himself. On paper he has the skills required to attack on the short and relatively sharp slopes to the line, while also possessing a potent sprint to dispatch anyone still with him in the final meters; as we have seen many times before at the Ardennes. However, it is unclear as to what condition he is in exactly on the back of a middling Tour de France showing, not quite animating the race as expected on day two here either. Though this might have been predominately due to his teammate Nairo Quintana attacking earlier and not wishing to reel him back in unnecessarily. With his skilful bike handling and a great level of positional nous, the technical run into home also supports his claims to victory on Stage 4 of La Vuelta a España.
Peter Sagan executed a surprisingly dominant sprint finish yesterday in order to steal the win away from John Degenkolb, who looked certain to cross the line first before the Slovak champion and Nacer Bouhanni gapped him by some margin before the finish. The stronger than expected tailwind might have contributed to the unexpected display by Sagan, but there is little doubt about his condition in 2015 and today suits him even better. Theoretically, the inclines at the very end of Stage 4 should prove too much for Sagan, but this year he has consistently gone beyond expectation when competing upon ill-fitting terrain. Should he manage to pace this last charge to the line well, he is the fastest by far of those singled out for the victory today and certainly has the technical skills required in order to avoid being boxed in late on.
Daniel Moreno was working for Joaquim Rodriguez on Stage 2, but today should offer him the chance to stretch his legs on a finish which will prove an inviting prospect for the Katusha rider. The difficulty of the final climbs will prove well within his abilities, but most encouraging of all, is his powerful sprint finish compared to his likely rivals here. Assuming he avoids being unable to follow the key attacks through the narrow streets, Moreno will aim to steal a march on the favourites and hammer home his speedy advantage over anyone still on his wheel ahead of the line.
Dan Martin seems unable to catch much luck at the moment, often finding his attacks mistimed by only a handful of seconds, leaving him with nothing to show for his efforts. He waited and waited on Stage 2 for the main general classification riders to chase the earlier skirmishing moves of Nicolas Roche and Esteban Chaves, but the impetus was never forthcoming. This unexpectedly left Martin to chase solo with no reaction from his overall rivals, freedom he did not believe was likely to be provided to him, but certainly something he will take advantage of if offered again today. Though he is known for his punchy ability to reach these steep hilltop finishes in a good position, he should not be too disheartened if still alongside a couple of riders after the summit, as the Irishman is able to execute a convincing turn of pace in a sprint finish. The biggest issue for Martin is the narrow and technical nature of the final kilometres, an aspect which could once again expose his weakness for crucial positioning during this last moments of a race.
Diego Rosa is sure to be on team duties helping to support Fabio Aru, but if he should be allowed off the leash to attack here, he might prove to be in with a chance of a podium finish. He often comes to the fore on these town based finales which use steep hills to form the finish and evidently has the technical skills to survive the run in, having placed well (5th) at Strade Bianche earlier this year.
Tom Dumoulin is performing far beyond the expectations of him this season, not only in his favoured time trialling discipline, but also in races such as Tour de Suisse and Stage 2’s finish at this edition of La Vuelta. The Dutchman is proving to be a difficult man to dislodge during this lumpy finales and could be aiming to succeed in the final few kilometres today which play well into his strengths. The gradients, though steep, do not fluctuate to greatly, which means Dumoulin should be able to ride at his desired power level without having to burn too many matches early on. Its narrow streets are unlikely to faze the Dutchman and he will be difficult to beat in any resulting sprint to the line; a strong contender.
Joaquim Rodriguez is sure to have preferred a much more difficult hill to decide the outcome of today’s stage, but the Spaniard could still feature in the shake up for the win. He performed well on Stage 2 and probably would have been favourite for the win had the peloton not allowed Dan Martin, Esteban Chaves and Tom Dumoulin to vanish up the road so easily late on. There is a strong chance he might actually return the favour of Daniel Moreno and instead choose to support his teammate on a course which admittedly suits his talents more so than that of Rodriguez.
Louis Meintjes is having a very strong year for his team MTN-Qhubeka, putting on a great display during Stage 5 of this year’s Tour de France. The young South African finished 14th on the second day at this year’s Vuelta and has a strong chance of building upon that here on Stage 4. Though perhaps not quite as tough as he would liked it to have been, a gruelling day in the crosswinds could tire his punchier rivals and allow him to attack hard at the death with little response.
Gianluca Brambilla could well prove to be dangerously underestimated on this terrain and will no doubt make the most of his underdog status to launch a serious attack late on here. It seems to becoming apparent that Brambilla finds good form at La Vuelta a España and has already begun to demonstrate such condition at this year’s edition too. A threatening blend of strength and speed, he has the option to either seize the initiative and attack solo, or follow the wheels of his rivals through the winding streets and steal the win with a potent sprint finish. His combative nature could be what secures him the win most of all, as we have already seen too much eyeballing of the favourites during the final moments of such tense stages.
1st Daniel Moreno 2nd Gianluca Brambilla 3rd Louis Meintjes
Joaquim Rodriguez recaptured his previous form upon Flèche Wallonne’s Mur de Huy to take Stage 3 of 2015’s Le Tour de France with a well judged acceleration to go clear in the final hundred meters. It was the performance of Chris Froome which possibly stole the show however, sticking with the victorious Spaniard on the steep gradients and going clear of rivals including Alberto Contador. At one point it even looked like the British rider could even steal the win once the road flattened out, but regardless, his late surge to the line took the maillot jaune by one second over Tony Martin. This result means Team Sky will be first car in the cavalcade heading into what is surely set to be a chaotic Stage 4 fought upon the cobbled road to Cambrai. With gold upon his shoulders and pave specialists Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard by his side, could we see a more aggressive performance than expected from Team Sky as they aim to find a safe passage from Seraing to Cambrai.
The cobbled stage of this year’s Tour de France caught the eye immediately upon the route’s release a long time ago now and finally the day is here. Terrain which a race champion usually requires little experience of is now placed to become a pivotal day for those aiming at the general classification; finishing safely being ambition number one. If the opportunity arises, there is a good chance that those who have already been unfortunate enough to ship time in the opening stages of this year’s edition of the race will push on and begin to recoup their losses. Though drama is wanted on such a day, nobody wishes the sort of misfortunate upon a rider so as to have to abandon; the departure of Chris Froome on a similar stage last year and the later retirement of Alberto Contador will forever undermine Vincenzo Nibali’s overall victory in 2014 for example.
Last year’s visit to these parts came under a rain cloud, causing many riders to crash on the greasy streets or fall hard on the jagged cobbles which can become like ice as moss begins to soak up the downpour. On this occasion a dry race looks more likely, something which sees more favourable at first, but such conditions should mean that a much higher race tempo is apparent as the battle for position over the sectors is ignited. Whereas yesterday’s stage was a reduced version of 2015’s Flèche Wallonne route, Stage 4 is more like an authentic classic in both terrain and distance; clocking up a total of 223.5km from the start in Seraing to the finish at Cambrai. Even the day’s profile should ensure a race structure similar to that of Paris-Roubaix, allowing an early breakaway to form ahead of a huge increase in tempo, as the general classification favourites seek protection at the front of the peloton alongside those wishing to end the day victorious.
It is easy to overstate and overdramatise this stage, so it is worth bearing in mind that the total number of sectors is only seven, all of which only add up to 13.3km of cobbles. So this is not exactly Paris-Roubaix, but the mental stresses and pressure from within teams to protect their leader will no doubt produce a similar maelstrom within which to race. As mentioned above, the day starts easy enough with over 50km of flat riding to let the legs tick over and judge any ailments as a result of yesterday’s horrific high speed crash which caused many to strike the tarmac with incredible force. The climb of Namur’s citadel is the sole categorised climb of the day (Category 4) and will be known to any rider here who has contested the GP Wallonie; exactly 2km long and ridden at an average of 4.8%.
Another 50km will then pass before the peloton encounter their first cobbled sector of the day after 103.5km of racing. The Pont-a-Celles a Gouy-lez-Pieton is 1.8km in length and should give the first insight as to those eager to stay at the front of affairs, beyond the obvious general classification hopefuls. Life will quieten down once more until they reach the intermediate sprint at 137km, before then having another 40km to get themselves organised for the start of the real rush of cobbles, beginning with the Famars sector. This lasts 1.2km and rapidly leads into the following Verchain-Maugre passage which stretches on for a slightly further 1.6km and offers little breathing time before hitting the sector of Saulzoir (1.2km in length.) Less than 35km will now remain as the riders are briefly provided with modern roads which must feel like silk compared to that of the sawtooth stones which have carpeted the route in the last 5km.
Next comes the 1.5km long Saint-Python, which is followed by the longest sector of the day Queivy, a 3.7km charge over dusty tracks and cobblestones that is likely to act as a good launchpad for any of the classics specialists who wish to go clear of the GC battle behind. The final sector of the day is Carnieres, the 2.3km stretch will conclude with a little over 10km of normal roads separating the leaders from the finish.
The day’s dry conditions should play into the hands of the true specialists on this type of terrain, making it likely that we shall see an elite group form at the head of affairs without the general classification favourites represented. Chris Froome is an unknown quantity, Alberto Contador evidently is not in top form, Nairo Quintana only possesses two riders capable of protecting him on such a stage and Vincenzo Nibali’s well documented performance on Le Tour’s cobbles last year was in the wet; where the pace would have been slower. Such factors should ensure John Degenkolb is given the perfect opportunity to strut his stuff once again on the cobbles which he seems to enjoy immensely without too much interplay from the overall riders affecting him. Most importantly for the German powerhouse is the fact he will have total support on the day, as he is team leader and they have no general classification interest which needs defending during Stage 4. Degenkolb has the required force to bring back threatening attacks on his own (and with the backing of his team), making the Giant-Alpecin colours a likely presence at the front once the pave begins appearing regularly. Given the considerable run in to the finish being raced upon standard tarmac, Degenkolb should simply be required to stay on the wheels and set himself up for a powerful sprint after an arduous day in the saddle. Though later stages do offer him further opportunities to win, he would be a fool to spurn such a well tailored day which provides him with a golden chance of winning.
Another specialist, but one who is lacking an equal palmares, is the Belgian rider Sep Vanmarcke; entering Stage 4 having made plenty aware of his intentions to win it. Lotto-Jumbo will no doubt provide Vanmarcke with free reign and a certain level of support on a stage which plays into his strengths as a lover of the cobbles. His Spring campaign was extremely disappointing for himself and fans alike, plagued by the sort of misfortune which seems to have also hung over Dan Martin and Geraint Thomas in recent classics seasons. Regardless of this factor, his class is well documented, but there is no doubt that he would have preferred a wet day in order to reduce the pace and truly test the mettle of his rivals. Vanmarcke will most likely look to attack solo or at least reduce the size of any leading group, especially if the two dominate forces of this year’s classics (John Degenkolb and Alexander Kristoff) are still sitting on his wheel as the pave begins running out.
The Norwegian Alexander Kristoff has experienced a brilliant year so far, turning in dominate performances from classics to week long races, demonstrating an ability to emerge victorious at the end of the toughest of races. His Flanders victory earlier this year was extremely impressive, but poor tactical decision making from behind did benefit him and there are no hellingen here for him to put the hammer down upon like the Ronde. Instead, his best chance here shall be to keep an eye on John Degenkolb and aim to benefit from their likely eagerness to control the race once it begins getting hectic. If he manages to save himself from committing too many efforts during the race, his already strong finishing prowess could be increased yet further and possibly even enough to better Degenkolb in a head to head sprint finish.
A man who has consistently performed well on the cobbles, but still lacks a major win is Greg Van Avermaet, likely to look upon Stage 4 in order to remedy this. The interesting blend of riders apparent in the BMC ranks in order to support Tejay Van Garderen should also offer some backing to Avermaet in his attempts to win here; Daniel Oss and Manuel Quinziato two such riders who could support or protect either man. Like Kristoff, Avermaet is likely to have benefited more if this route had included the sort of cobbled hills which shape Ronde Van Vlaanderen, though he cannot be discounted given his rapid finish. There is a possibility that he will already consider his chances of beating John Degenkolb and Alexander Kristoff so slim that he is better off forming an allegiance with Sep Vanmarcke for example; both agreeing to work together in order to drop their rivals and set up the finish for a greatly reduced sprint.
If given the team orders to get involved within the battle for the stage win, Etixx-Quick Step could allow Zdeněk Štybar to become a protagonist on a course which suits him well. The 29 year old Czech rider has a solid record at Paris-Roubaix and has already come close to winning ‘The Hell of The North’ on two occasions so far. At only 1’04” down on Chris Froome’s yellow jersey, he offers a better chance of taking the maillot jaune than Tony Martin, but could be restricted by the fact that teammate Rigoberto Uran sits closer still at only 34″ back. Team orders could request Štybar helps find a clear passage for the Colombian and aim to overturn the deficit to Froome with a late attack. Whatever the situation, there is no question of Štybar’s class on this type of course, making him well worth watching as ever on the cobbles.
The possibilities for Etixx-QuickStep do not end there either, as both Matteo Trentin who finished 9th on last year’s cobbled stage and even Mark Cavendish could cope well and be present in the finale as either part of a sprint or small breakaway. The British Road Race Championships certainly displayed exactly how well Cavendish is riding right now and it would not be surprising should he contest a larger bunch kick come the day’s finish. Michal Kwiatkowski was 7th on the wet ride to Arenberg in last year’s Tour and is clearly competing extremely well currently, though could instead be utilised to help Tony Martin once again. The German time trial specialist sits a solitary second off the leader’s jersey, making for an interesting dynamic within the team as to who might be the best man to support in the name of taking yellow. The Belgian outfit have been tactically lacking during this season, gaining much criticism for letting advantages come to nothing; a victory on Stage 4 could well be the perfect riposte to such claims.
Outsiders which all warrant watching should they smuggle themselves abroad the day’s winning move include Martin Elmiger, Jens Debusschere, Arnaud Demare and Sebastien Langeveld; all of whom possess an encouraging blend of history and ability to perform well during this cobbled adventure.
In the presence of dry conditions, we should see a race emerge which strongly favours those who have impressive form at Paris-Roubaix, though we must not get too hung up on this factor given how Stage 4 is hardly a cobbled classic. Though the distance may be similar, the much reduced amount of cobbled sectors means that previous form on such terrain is not necessarily an imperative, the winner may simply be an extremely strong rider who is on great form when it matters most. There is no doubt that the general classification battle shall impact upon the day in some form, though unless a real shock performance comes to the fore, it should come down to the big names strongmen to win here. Of such riders, John Degenkolb is clearly the favourite, having already won Paris-Roubaix this season and will have the entire team at his disposal to ensure that no break threatens his hopes of winning here too greatly. If required to go it alone, Degenkolb is powerful enough to reel back his rivals and should be the fastest man in any sprint as long as he has not cooked himself before the finale. The likelihood is that Greg Van Avermaet and Alexander Kristoff will be his two biggest rivals in a sprint finish, both should be operating with a reasonable level of freedom and clearly have the skill-set to perform well on Stage 4. The biggest variable is obviously luck, any winner will no doubt have had a considerable helping of the stuff in order to win a stage fraught with banana skins. Should a breakaway manage to make it all the way to the line, then Sep Vanmarcke, Jens Debusschere and Zdeněk Štybar could prove an extremely difficult task to bring back once they hit the final tarmac section.
1st John Degenkolb 2nd Greg Van Avermaet 3rd Alexander Kristoff
After a couple of days which saw the strongest men of the peloton drawn to the frontline, Stage 4 now offers the sprinters an opportunity to make their time here worthwhile. Plenty of big name riders are present at the Tour de Suisse and the outcome could offers us some insight as to the potential battle for the green jersey at this year’s Le Tour de France.
A 193.2km course links the towns of Flims and Schwarzenbach, offering a relatively calm start today the day with an opening passage of flat terrain until the 60km marker. At this point life suddenly gets a lot harder for the peloton as they are tasked with tackling the 8.9km ascent of Wildhaus. The Category 2 climb is likely to see a serious shelling of the peloton as the strongmen look to shatter their faster finishing rivals on the 6.8% average gradient, before they even catch sight of the finish.
Just shy of 125km will still be left once the leaders have hauled themselves over the climb, after which they will ride onto the finishing circuit at 82km remaining which will comprise the day’s finale. The Category 3 Husenstrasse is the main feature of these laps, a 1.8km ascent which is ridden at an average gradient of 5.7%. The latter stages of these laps include rolling terrain which eventually strikes flat once again with less than 10km separating them from the finishing line. Though not present upon the stage profile, another 1.2km climb is present during these final 1okm of the race, the 3% gradient dragging onwards to the 7km marker, at which point they roll down to the flamme rouge and hit the run in at 900m; which is raced entirely uphill at a constant gradient of 3.4%. In total this 29.2km circuit shall be used twice, once the peloton have passed the finish line for the first time at around 58km remaining.
Though Peter Sagan displayed a strong demonstration of form to win on the previous day, Stage 4 looks to be a more favourable finish for his faster rivals. That does not mean it is easy to dismiss the Slovak rider’s chances though, he truly favours riding this race as part of his Tour de France build up and a running total of 10 stage wins proves that Sagan’s familiarity with this race always leaves him a danger.
Alexander Kristoff is the favourite for many due to his prowess on this draining terrain, but specifically the finishing circuit and uphill finish which looks set to grind down the majority of his opponents. The Norwegian has been in incredible form during the year and will certainly seize upon the opportunity here to stretch his legs and take a win ahead of a likely appearance at Le Tour de France. If all remains together as they pass under the flamme rouge, Kristoff will be the man to beat on a finish which even he would struggle to design more favourably.
Another strongman sprinter who should be able to cope with the day’s demands is the German powerhouse John Degenkolb. His spring campaign proved extremely fruitful, seeing him walk away with a historic double of Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix. Though Kristoff might be strongest throughout the day, Degenkolb is likely to be the stronger of the two in a sprint finish and has often outgunned his rival in similar surroundings. Degenkolb will need to ensure his line of sight is not mobbed by Katusha, but assuming he can survive the day and find a clear passage to the finish, the German could be unstoppable.
Orica-GreenEDGE could decide to invest their efforts into supporting their sprinter Michael Matthews, a man who put in a spirited performance yesterday and was only found lacking very late on. The support is certainly present if he decides to contest the stage, but the draining finishing circuit might prove too much for the Australian; this season has seen unexpectedly impressive showings at Milan-San Remo and the Giro d’Italia though.
Possibly the only team with two realistic options in a sprint finish is Lampre-Merida, the Italian team having turned up at Tour de Suisse with Davide Cimolai and Niccolo Bonifazio. The former suits this uphill finish well, but is likely to find this winning opportunity slightly too soon in regards to his developing form. The latter is clearly closer to race winning condition and possesses a sharp finish, but the rising star could see himself swamped by stronger rivals on the difficult drag to the line.
Ahead of his campaign to take Le Tour’s green jersey in the coming weeks, Mark Cavendish will seek to demonstrate a level of form before he leaves the Tour de Suisse and finish his final tune ups before the grand départ. Not much is made of his climbing ability, but he remains one of the best in regards to sprinters and should be present at the finale. Though the finish is uphill, the Brit has often remarked that he is the fastest regardless of the gradient, a belief which secured him the rainbow stripes on similar terrain.
José Joaquin Rojas could certainly prove a threat on Stage 4, his form is evidently growing after managing a solid 10th place on Monday. He often comes to the fore after an attritional day and will certainly deem this stage a worthwhile opportunity to sink his efforts into. Given he is not the fastest man on this list, Rojas will need to ensure he is well placed as they enter onto the finishing straight, if he manages this he could pull off a surprising win.
Others who stand a chance of featuring in this challenging finish include Arnaud Démare, Matteo Trentin and Jurgen Roelandts; all of which have the potential of being some of the fastest in a testing bunch kick.
As ever, the Tour de Suisse has the potential to ratchet up the intensity and shell many contenders on this list before the riders can even begin to think about the finish. Assuming that the likes of Alexander Kristoff and John Degenkolb survive the day, it could be a showdown between the two dominant forces of the Classics this season. Though Kristoff has been in imperious form all year, the recent return from high altitude training could see Degenkolb in better shape and with a sharper sprint to take the win. Peter Sagan is ‘Mr.Consistent’ and will doubt be present within the top 5, but a faster selection of rivals should put the win beyond the Slovak today. The most interesting man to watch shall be Mark Cavendish, at 30 years old the Manxman is supposed to be tailing off nowadays, but many within the sport suggest he is perhaps in the form of is life currently.
1st John Degenkolb 2nd Alexander Kristoff 3rd Mark Cavendish