By Shane Stokes in St. Moritz
Although today is another mountain stage in the Tour de Suisse, the fact that the first category climb of Lukmanierpass is a full 89.8 kilometres from the line means that it is possible that a large group will fight it out for the win together. If he can limit his losses on the climb, in theory world champion Tom Boonen could come back before the end and try to add to the stage win he took on day one.
Much will depend on how hard the climbers ride the Lukmanierpass and the day's preceding mountain, the second category Julierpass, which comes shortly after the start in St. Moritz. Either way, Tom Boonen told Cyclingnews earlier this week that he is likely to withdraw today. "I don't think I will finish the race...I will probably stop on Friday," he stated on Wednesday.
"The race has been good training but very hard. Yesterday (Tuesday) was a very hard stage and the rest of the Tour will be the same. The flat stages aren't that flat, put it that way! Even the first stage wasn't flat – we had a climb of almost 18 percent in the final. But it is good training here and good preparation for the Tour."
Boonen will head to France with clear targets. "The last three years things have been going well for me, in terms of victories. Now I have focused a little more on the Tour in the past few weeks. I am hoping for a good Tour start and then we will see how things go.
"My target is to start with a stage victory and then see how things progress from there, as regards the green jersey competition. It is always important to have a good result in the first few days. I think the green jersey will be won or lost in the first week."
Another sprinter who indicated to Cyclingnews that he was likely to stop before the end is Robbie McEwen. He had a hard day yesterday, finishing last on the stage, but is also using this race as training for the Tour. McEwen took three stage victories in the Giro d'Italia and feels he should be in good shape in France.