Chris Froome is back in action in Switzerland this week, and it’s looking like a showdown with his old teammate, Richie Porte.
After Tuesday’s soggy and cautious prologue, all eyes will be on Saturday’s fourth stage at Romandie, and the biggest day of climbing in the short stage race. Romandie has fallen to Froome twice now, and it’s a fixture in his Tour preparations. While he’s quick to point out that he doesn’t need to win to feel ready for France, with zero victories in 2017, there are certainly those who expect to at least see something out of Froome this week.
There was little on display from any of the GC favorites, with a short 4.6km prologue slowed by rain. Those with bigger targets decided to take it easy, with many ceding a handful of seconds rather than risk their chances.
Saturday’s fourth stage is going to be the big test, perhaps more so than Sunday’s individual time trail. True, Sunday has over 300 meters of climbing, but seeing the likes of Froome, Porte, Bob Jungels and the other big names go head-to-head on a vicious mountain stage might be our best glimpse of the Tour contenders before things get busy at May’s Giro d’Italia.
Porte had a flying winter and another strong performance at the Tour Down Under, but now is the time we’d like to see him building back up for July. Romandie is also one of the few times he’ll line up alongside Teejay van Garderen this season, and the pair may be able to use each other as foils as they take on Froome. That may be why Saturday is so important; team tactics might allow a chink in the Sky armor to be prised open, but on Sunday, there’s no hiding in the time trial.
Coverage of Romandie runs all week on steephill.tv so head over and enjoy!