The 712 kilometres covered over the six-day Tour de Romandie provide 13,400 metres of elevation gain, which organisers say makes this the second-most difficult edition of the race in 75 outings.
The prologue in Lausanne, Switzerland on Tuesday is a flat opening to a week of climbing, with a start around the new Stade de la Tuilière. Raiders will go around the old Stade de la Pontaise and then onto the runway at La Blécherette airport, which is a first for the race. Riders pass under the red kite halfway on the 1.5km section of the runway, then tackle a slight ascent with two technical turns to the finish line.
Stage 1 offers four category 3 climbs across 178km from La Grande Béroche to Romont. The approach to the final includes two hilly loops of 46km each leading to the line at the fort of Romont Castle. The route has 3,000 metres of elevation gain, going up and down all day and the road rising again for a steep uphill finish in Romont. Back in 2019 at this same finish, David Gaudu won ahead of Rui Costa and Primož Roglič.
The riders head out from the port of Saint-Aubin-Sauges in La Grande Béroche, and hits the first climb just 30km into the race. The longest climb is Esmonts, 7 kilometres long at 4 per cent, with a little over 100km to go, and then the riders face a series of uncategorised climbs that pepper the rest of the route. The cat 3 Massonnens ascent is encountered twice, with its 2km of 6 per cent, and the second pass coming just 15km from finish.
The routes for the next two days are loops, with the first on stage 2 travelling around the Gros-de-Vaud Region with the start and finish in Echallens. There are 2,600 metres of climbing with a flat 2.5km run-in for the finish. Spectators in Echallens will see the peloton pass through twice before the third pass ends at the finish line. In the meantime, the lone King of the Mountain climb is mid-way through the 168.2km stage at La Praz, a 6.7km ascent with an average gradient of just under 5 per cent, but steep pitches in double digits.
The peloton will pass a lot of farmland on this rolling day, as Gros-de-Vaud is one of the top wheat growing areas in Switzerland. After a long descent of almost 20km into the valley, the race winds its back through the finish line area and then crosses a number of categorised climbs back to Echallens for the finale.
Stage 3 provides a loop around Granges-Marnand and through seven more villages as it begins and ends in Valbroye, located in the heart of the Broye Valley.
The route has barely a a handful of kilometres strung together of flat terrain, as it bumps up and down with five categorised climbs in 165.1 kilometres. The first ascent begins after the opening five kilometres, pushing to the top of Dompierre, a category 3 ascent at a 5 per cent gradient. There are a series of four more cat 3 climbs on the route, with Dompierre ascended a second time as the penultimate obstacle before the finish. The final two climbs arrive with less than 20km to go for a great opportunity for a breakaway to attack.
The Queen Stage is set for stage 4, with six categorised climbs, four of them at category 1, and 4,160 metres of elevation gain over 180.1 kilometres between Aigle and Zinal / Val d'Anniviers. The start is from Aigle, known for its medieval heritage, wine-growing culture and site of the UCI World Cycling Centre.
After a flat start, the road tilts skyward after 40km for the first KOM at Nax. After a fast descent, the route will climb Les Pontis on the first of two passes. The road after the first ascent of Les Pontis continues to rise to category 1 Saint-Luc (1,564m) and second-category Les Ziettes d’en Bas. After a second pass of the intermediate sprint in Siere, the riders make the climb to Zinal across double first-category climbs, Les Pontis and Grimentz (1,563m).
The race concludes with stage 5, the individual time trial towards Villars-sur-Ollon. Riders will begin back in Aigle in front of the World Cycling Centre for 15.8 kilometres. The opening five kilometres are flat, leading to 900 metres of elevation gain from Oilan, through Huémoz, Chesières and into Villars.
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