That?s it folks. Apart from a run-out at the weekend?s National Championships, the preparation is over. All that?s left now is the interminable countdown. Arrival in Brest on the Monday afternoon and then the best part of a week spent waiting.
The Tour de France is almost upon us and the Tour of Switzerland was the last chance to hone form. Unlike the Dauphiné Libéré, which has a prestige of its own, the Swiss race suffers from its proximity to the Tour. No one wants to go too deep, too many are just using it as top-level training.
But there were clues there, if you look hard enough.
So, what did the Tour of Switzerland tell us?
That Oscar Freire will be hard to beat on stage one
The finish in Plumelec is not a conventional flat-out sprint. It?s going to suit the likes of Kim Kirchen, who has declared the opening stage as a major target, and Philippe Gilbert, who?s coming into form. But if it all comes together in the final five kilometres, Freire will be dangerous. Super dangerous. We could be looking at the first yellow jersey of the race right there.
That Robbie McEwen has found form ? at last
We were starting to worry about the pugnacious Aussie. He?s getting older and crankier and his popularity in the bunch is close to an all-time low but he?s a force once again. Two stage wins in a row. Suddenly a Tour stage doesn?t look out of the question after a distinctly average first half of the year.
That Kirchen can?t time trial? not even up hill
Kirchen celebrates his 30th birthday on the Thursday before the Tour starts. He wants to win the first stage as a late gift to himself. We were even starting to think he could make the top five overall with his Swiss form? until he hit the buffers in the time trial.
That Euskaltel are so blessed with climbing drones there’s no room for Igor Anton
Haimar Zubeldia and Mikel Astarloza were good at the Dauphiné Libéré, Samuel Sanchez is preparing to come out of hibernation. Igor Anton gets on the podium in Switzerland but there’s no room in their final nine at the Tour for him.
That Gerald Ciolek is not as quick as Mark Cavendish
But as a double-act they?re going to be dynamite. Cav can take care of the flat-out sprints, Ciolek can have his crack of the whip when it?s a bit lumpy.
That Andy may be a better bet than Frank
Not everyone is convinced by Andy Schleck. He?s too young for the Tour and he?ll find that it?s a totally different challenge to the Giro, they say. Frank was going quite well in Switzerland until a spectacular plunge over the side of the road on stage five. Battered from those injuries he lost ground and finally pulled out but will be fit in time for the Tour.
That the Cancellara Express is nailed on to win in Cholet
If Fabian doesn?t win the time trial Cholet, we?ll be amazed. He?s not confined to time trial stages either and will look to do what he did in Compiegne last year.
That Roman Kreuziger is a bit good
Could be one of the surprise packages of this Tour if, as expected, he gets the nod. What on earth did Liquigas need to sign Basso for when they?ve got this one in the ranks?
That Damiano Cunego is where he wants to be
The Italian is up there with Cadel Evans and Alejandro Valverde among the top favourites for the Tour and his preparation has gone perfectly.
That Stijn Devolder isn?t as good as Patrick Lefevere thinks he is
With Tom Boonen banned from the Tour by ASO, Quick Step need a Plan B ? and fast. Could it be Devolder? The Tour of Flanders winner cuts an unlikely figure when it comes to the big mountains but we were starting to think he might by the overwhelming surprise of the Tour. That was until he blew in the mountains in Switzerland.
That Thomas Dekker is having a stinker
Lost 15 minutes on stage one, another 12 the next day. Of the back on stages three and four, then 13 minutes and 14 minutes lost on the two hilly stages. The Rabobank man had an awful time, was reportedly feeling unwell and his Tour de France place is now in serious doubt.
Tour of Switzerland final top 10
1. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas in 35-43-46
2. Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana at 49sec
3. Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel at 1-55
4. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre at 2-11
5. Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) High Road at 2-37
6. Andy Schleck (Lux) CSC at 2-57
7. Kim Kirchen (Lux) High Road at 2-58
8. Markus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner at 4-08
9. Christian Knees (Ger) Milram at 4-18
10. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank at 4-26
What the Dauphiné Libéré told us about the Tour