Will reigning champion Primož Roglič defend his title?
Primož Roglič used last year’s Tour de Romandie to properly announce himself as a rider who can contend in the overall classification of stage races.
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Three GC wins since at the Tour of Slovenia, UAE Tour and Tirreno-Adriatico pale in comparison to an impressive fourth place GC finish at the 2018 Tour de France, four-time winner Chris Froome beating him to the podium by a mere 58 seconds.
Romandie will be used to set Roglič up for the Giro d’Italia, where he will look to drastically improve on his 58th place finish in 2016. The Slovenian will be putting his all into the Giro, with Romandie the perfect launchpad to test his legs, as he is unlikely to get the chance to take on the Tour de France this year, with team-mate Steven Kruijswijk being designated as the team leader for July.
How will Geraint Thomas perform?
A 33rd place finish, 7-22 down on Roglič, in the 2018 edition of the race didn’t give any hint that Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) would win the Tour de France a few months later. The Welshman recently admitted that he has lacked racing experience so far this year but that he’s not far off his 2018 form, as he continues to build towards defending his title in July.
Thomas’ 2019 season started in February at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana before finishing 12th in Strade Bianche. He then went on to abandon Tirreno-Adriatico on stage four due to stomach problems before being taken out of contention for the overall classification of the Tour of the Basque Country after crashing on stage three.
After the Tour de Romandie, Thomas will return to Switzerland for the Tour de Suisse in June. It’s safe to say that whenever the 32-year-old gets anywhere near a bike between now and July his every pedal stroke will be put under the microscope as people try and figure out whether he’ll be able to replicate his remarkable Grand Tour win. Romandie will be no exception to this.
Another chance for Remco Evenepoel to show his talent
Alongside Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s glittering spring Classics campaign, Remco Evenepoel has announced himself as a star for the future with a top 10 on GC and the youth classification at the Vuelta a San Juan and a fourth place GC finish at the Tour of Turkey, where the Belgian often animated the race amongst a field of far more experienced pros.
The Tour de Romandie will be another chance for the 19-year-old to show his class, with his team not demanding any immediate performances, just focused on building his experience and giving him more days of stage racing as he develops.
Victor Campenaerts returns ahead of Giro
Fresh from setting a new UCI Hour Record, beating Bradley Wiggins by 563m, Victor Campenaerts will return to Romandie, a race he didn’t complete last year after finishing outside the time limit on stage three.
Like many others, the Belgian will also be riding the Giro d’Italia 2019, and his Lotto-Soudal team have said he’ll be targeting the time trials. When that race kicks off he’ll have a chance to take the maglia rosa at the opening time trial in Bologna.
He’ll get a dress rehearsal of how to take the leader’s jersey thanks to a race against the clock on stage one in Romandie, when the riders take on the 3.87km prologue. Last year he finished fifth in the prologue, five seconds down on stage winner Michael Matthews (Sunweb) and will be hoping to improve on that performance this year.
An unofficial first outing for Ineos
The cycling outfit formerly known as Team Sky is due to be officially unveiled at The Tour de Yorkshire, starting on Thursday May 2. However, Team Ineos’ first time out on the road will actually be a day earlier, at the Tour of Romandie’s prologue in Neuchâtel.
Ineos will be wearing a temporary kit however, saving the official gear for a grand unveiling in Doncaster on stage one in Yorkshire, where Chris Froome will lead a team packed with British talent. Geraint Thomas and his Swiss contingent will be wearing a fairly plain black strip with Ineos written across the front and a familiar light blue line from neck to tail bone along the back.