Tough 2011 Tour de Suisse includes three mountain finishes

The Tour de Suisse will be shorter but more challenging this year, with three mountain top finishes and two time trials. The race will held between June 11-19 and visit every region of Switzerland and also dip into both Liechtenstein and Austria. Fränk Schleck won the 2010 Tour de Suisse, beating Lance Armstrong by just 12 seconds.

“Once again we have put together a great course for the Tour de Suisse 2011,” said the race's sport director, Beat Zberg, said at the official presentation. “It will be a challenging tour for the riders.”

The race is celebrating its 75th anniversary and will open and close with time trials. The first stage is 7.3km long around Lugano and includes a two-km climb. The closing stage is a 32.1km time trial around Schaffhouse and also includes a climb.

The second stage features two major climbs, the hors category Nufenpass (2478m) and the finish at the ski resort of Crans-Montana. It is followed by the “short but painful” third stage from Brig-Glis to Grindelwald, just 107.6km long. Roughly halfway through, the peloton will climb the category one Grimselpass. This is immediately followed by the hors category Grosse Scheidegg. No mountain top finish here, as the finish is after a descent.

Two stages for the sprinters follow, before the queen stage from Tobel-Tägerschen to Triesenberg/Malbun in Liechtenstein. A bumpy course over 157.7km includes two category three climbs in the second half of the stage, before taking on the final nine km climb up to the 1600m high mountain finish.

Stage seven takes the riders from Liechtenstein to Austria and is the longest stage of the race, at 222.8km, and is also the final mountain finish. Along the way the riders will face the hors category Flüelpass before two minor climbs and the climb of the category one Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis.

The eighth stage is on a rolling course with two small climbs near the end, setting the riders up for the final time trial that is likely to decide the overall winner.

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