On paper this stage may look like a good one for a breakaway to make but the final part isn’t as hard as it may seem. The profile shows two small climbs starting with less than 30 km to go but they aren’t very steep.
The first one, a 3 km long category 3 climb, has an average gradient of 6.8 % but with a strong tail wind, the peloton will be able to keep a high speed. Reaching the top there are still 5 km of false flat before the descent starts. The downhill section isn’t very technical and it will be difficult to keep the peloton at bay.
The road starts to kick up again with 14 km to go but the two kilometers towards the sprint aren’t steep at all. The descent only has one tricky hairpin corner and when the riders turn right on Seestrasse, it’s straight out for almost 8 km towards the finishing line. A lonely rider or a small group will have difficulties keeping a gap with a strong cross/head wind alongside Lake Zürich and I think we will see another bunch sprint.
There is a small traffic island just before the road bends right with about 200 meters to go. The turn is not as important as the sharp one on Stage 4 but if you need to be among the first three in order to win.
Once again, it’s hard not to pick Peter Sagan as the favorite. He won’t have any problems on the hills and with a strong team to support him he will be difficult to beat. Sagan didn’t managed to position himself well on Stage 4 and that cost him the win. On Stage 5 he was in the right position but ran out of teammates in the end. Sagan had to start his sprint too early and after two missed opportunities, he must be eager to take revenge now.
It’s also a good finish for a real power sprinter like John Degenkolb. With a head wind the last 8 km it’s important not to hit the front too early and Degenkolb probably has the best leadout train in the race. A couple of years ago Argos-Shimano’s mantra was to get the best leadout train in the world and they are close to succeeding. They didn’t time it well in the beginning of the season but recently they have been looking very strong. It’s true they messed up a bit on Stage, but I still think Degenkolb will be first rider into the last bend. Time will tell if that’s enough to win.
Since this stage is good for a power sprinter, it’s naturally also good for Alexander Kristoff. As mention in the preview for Stage 5, the Norwegian is very strong right now. He made it look easy when he beat Sagan and Démare on Stage 5 and his moral is now sky high. Once again, it’s difficult to pick between the three riders named above. Kristoff’s confidence is high now, Sagan is out for revenge and Degenkolb must be eager to finally show himself. If I have to pick one, I’ll go with Sagan again.
There are many strong sprinters in this race and it’s difficult to pick a joker with a chance to win. My pick this time is youngster Boy Van Poppel. He may not be able to beat the best sprinters in this race but on a good day, he’s up there fighting for podium. Van Poppel took 5th place on Stage 3 of Tour of California and he seems to be in good shape right now ending 9th on Stage 5. Vacansoleil-DCM have a couple of fast guys in Tour de Suisse but instead of sprinting for each other, they are now focusing on Van Poppel. Grega Bole has been assigned as leadout for Van Poppel and if the young Dutchman gets on the right wheel, he could very well make top5 if not more.
If it a breakaway makes it after all - though I doubt that - look out for Luis León Sanchez. The Spaniard is back after his short suspension and he's already in great shape. He attacked from a far and won the last stage of Belgium Tour last month and he could very well give a go in the final 25 undulating kilometers.
Favorite: Peter SaganJokers: Boy Van Poppel & Luis León Sanchez
For live coverage check out steephill.tv.