In His Own Words: Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage Previews Tour de Suisse

Fri 7 Jun 2013

With the Tour de France start only weeks away, teams are making their final preparations for the French Grand Tour. This year ORICA-GreenEDGE brings its Tour de France sprint squad to Switzerland where the team feels it can best fine-tune its train over the nine day race. In his own words, Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage explains why the team has chosen to bring its sprinters to Tour de Suisse and highlights the team’s goals for the Swiss tour.

Most riders use one of two races to build up to the Tour. They’ll either race the Dauphiné or Suisse. The Dauphiné is the preferred preparation for the big climbers. It’s a hard race, it’s raced very aggressively, and it gives riders an extra week to recover after going so deep.

The Tour de Suisse is like a mini Tour de France because of its high mountains stages, sprint stages and time trial – it’s a bit more of a mixed bag than Dauphiné. The Suisse high mountains are similar to the climbs that are included in the Tour. The Tour de France often uses the French side of the Alps featured in Tour de Suisse this year.

Last year we raced in Slovenia over Switzerland, but this year the Swiss tour offers more for the sprinters. Also, last year everyone had the Olympics in the back of their mind. People were still focused on the Tour, of course, but they were also focused on their form coming out of the Tour. Without the Olympics this year and with a more sprint friendly Tour de Suisse than normal, it makes sense to bring our sprint squad to Switzerland.

The only thing we’re a little worried about is the weather related to some of the big climbs. We’ve had a late spring here in Europe. Typically at this time of year we are not seeing stages of the Giro being cancelled or altered because of weather. We are about one to two months behind weather-wise this year. At Suisse there is a mountain top finish at the ski station of Crans-Montana, which is at 2473 meters. This week the temperature at the top is 4 degrees Celsius. If we have similar weather scenarios to that of the Giro, it will be interesting to see how the race might be altered.

We’re heading to Switzerland with a campaign on two fronts – Cam [Meyer] has GC aspirations and our sprint group will refine its efforts at the finish. After a dominating performance by the entire team yesterday in Gippingen, we’re excited to support duel goals.

With strong rides at Turkey and California, Cam has shown that he’s going in the right direction at this point of the season. We believe Cam is capable of riding top ten at Suisse, and we’ll support that goal as much as possible. In each race Cam continues to improve, and he’s put in a big effort for Suisse. Doing what he does best, he went with his coach to recon key stages. Cam knows how to eke out that extra one percent.

Although we don’t have a lot of climbers to support him, we have our most experienced group of riders at this tour. They’ll know how to help him get the most out of himself. The prologue and individual time trial suit him. The types of climbs in this race are up his alley. Cam has been building for a long time towards being in the mix for GC, and we’re eager to help him achieve his goal.

Our other focus for Suisse involves our sprint group. The Tour de Suisse presents us with a lot more options than usual this year, which will be highlighted by some great stages for our sprint train. Matt Goss has come off a very frustrating Giro. That tour was one of his goals, which made it extra disappointing for him when he got sick.

Gossy soldiered on and now has a great amount of work underneath him. Suisse is where he’ll fine-tune his efforts before the Tour. There are certainly some stages we’ll target with him there, and we’re all looking forward to the challenge. Last year, Michael Albasini won stage eight. This year, we hope it's our sprint squad that can deliver us a stage win. 

Overall, the Tour de Suisse is a good way to prepare for the Tour de France. The roads are great, and it’s a big race with nine tough stages. We consider it one last training load before the Grand Départ. 

ORICA-GreenEDGE for Tour de Suisse:

Aidis Kruopis
Baden Cooke
Cameron Meyer
Daryl Impey
Matt Goss
Michael Albasini
Sam Bewley
Stuart O'Grady