Tour de Romandie 2014: preview

Defending champion Chris Froome returns to action with Team Sky

The Tour de Romandie kicks off with a flat, 5.57km prologue in Ascona before heading to Sion the following day, via the category one ascent of the Col du Simplon.

The fierce climb rises to more than 2,000ft and comes halfway through the 203km stage, with a category-two climb in Lens also en route.

An undulating Tour de Romandie course awaits. pic: Sirotti

Stage two features two category-three ascents and a couple of uncategorised climbs – including an uphill section within three kilometres of the finish line – but looks more set for a sprint finish.

Any respite for the GC contenders is quickly undone on stage three however, which is likely to blow the GC apart.

A relatively sedate opening to stage leads into the fierce ascent of the Col des Planches – 11.4 kilometres at an average gradient of more than eight per cent, and some of the lower ramps significantly more than that.

It is followed by Champex-Lac, another long slog skywards, before Les Giettes and the Villars-sur-Ollon in the latter half of the race.

The stage then finishes with a rapid, downhill into Aigle and a flat finish.

Stage four, a circuit starting and ending in Fribourg, is a much more sedate offering, with just a single category three climb to negotiate and a sprint finish likely.

And the race concludes with an 18.5km individual time trial, which includes a slight hairpin and an uphill section halfway round – won last year by Tony Martin, the world time trial champion is likely to start the stage as favourite again.

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