Cannondale-Drapac brings a diverse team to the varied Tour de Suisse, which begins with a six-kilometer prologue in Cham on Saturday. The nine-day race includes two time trials, three summit finishes and four stages that could be split between sprinters, rouleurs and breakaway artists.
American time trial champion Taylor Phinney and Ryan Mullen have their sights firmly set on the opening stage and final day time trials. Mike Woods, Hugh Carthy and Joe Dombrowski aim to show themselves in the mountains. Paddy Bevin and Sep Vanmarcke will focus on the stages that finishes in small groups or reduced bunches. Lawson Craddock will play a key support role across all terrain.
“We have riders that are strong everywhere, with individual characteristics for every terrain,” said sport director Juanma Garate. “I’m really enthusiastic and really looking forward to the race and the opportunities for us during the week. On paper, maybe teams will see we don’t have a GC rider, but I think we can surprise. We can be protagonists.”
Ryan Mullen hopes to continue his progression in the race of truth. The 22-year-old delighted in fifth place in the time trial at the 2016 Road World Championships in Doha and slotted into ninth place in the final stage time trial at Tirreno Adriatico in March.
“Success for me will be confirming myself as a rider who can obtain top 10s consistently,” said Mullen. “I took a top ten in the final TT in Tirreno, so I hope to continue on an upward trajectory. Suisse is nine days long, and I’ve never raced that sort of length before, so we’ll need to see how I’m recovering towards the end of the race.”
While the time trials present clear, tangible targets, Garate sees opportunities for all of his riders over the nine-day race.
“With Sep, I’m curious. He had bad luck in the Classics, but in the Hammer Series, he showed he is in good shape at the moment,” said Garate. “Taylor is coming out from the first part of the season that included many challenges, and now he’s coming good. Joe, Hugh, and Mike are coming from the Giro, and if they did the right things at home – if they recovered well and rested, they’ll have good legs here. I’m really happy with the group we’re bringing.”
“This is the biggest race I’ve done to date, so it will be one of the highlights of my career so far,” Mullen noted. “It really stands out from any other race I’ve done previously. I’ve never really raced in the proper mountains before. I’m a little bit scared, but I’m hoping it will be really good for my development as a young rider. If I can perform well in the two time trial stages, I’m hopeful it will do a lot for my career.”
With the start of the Tour de France coming only 21 days after the start of Tour de Suisse, Cannondale-Drapac will take special care with its likely Tour starters.
“Tour de Suissie normally has good weather, but if it’s not, we have to pay attention to our riders that are racing the Tour,” noted Garate. “We can’t allow them to get sick in this period.”
Cannondale-Drapac for Tour de Suisse:
Paddy Bevin (NZL)
Hugh Carthy (GBR)
Lawson Craddock (USA)
Joe Dombrowski (USA)
Ryan Mullen (IRL)
Taylor Phinney( (USA)
Mike Woods (CAN)
Sep Vanmarkce (BEL)