Five Underdogs For The Digital Swiss 5
Five Underdogs For The Digital Swiss 5
The Digital Swiss 5 is drawing nearly every big name in the WorldTour. These are the riders with an outside chance at victory.
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The Digital Swiss 5 is the first WorldTour stage race that has ever been attempted. It follows in the footsteps of the Tour of Flanders Lockdown Edition, which gave 13 riders an opportunity to ride the finale of the Tour of Flanders Course. Greg Van Avermaet attacked over the Paterberg to win the inaugural virtual race.
One month later, the organizers of the Tour de Swiss in partnership with Velon are upping the bar. They will host a 5 day stage race on the virtual riding platform Rouvy, in which 19 teams will compete. Each team will field a roster of three riders, and teams may change their rosters each stage.
Each stage will be scored as its own individual race, and because rosters will change on a daily basis, there will be no overall general classification prize. Teams are taking advantage of the innovative rules by entering rosters stacked with star riders.
16 WorldTour teams, two professional continental outfits and the Swiss National Team will all be in attendance. Most teams intend to field over ten riders throughout the course of the event. The ability to swap riders in and out between stages has allowed the race to include some of the sport's biggest names.
With teams clamoring for exposure, and riders in need of results, expect to see fireworks in every stage.
These are the riders with an outside shot at victory.
Michael Albasini, the Swiss veteran for Mitchelton-Scott was planning on retiring following the 2020 Tour de Suisse this June. The 38 year old has been in the pro peloton since 2003 and hoped to end a long career on home soil.
The Tour de Suisse has been canceled, but Albasini will be racing the next best thing, the Digital Swiss 5. Albasini will be racing for the Swiss National Team rather than in his usual Mitchelton-Scott attire. The Swiss National Team will feature a host of WorldTour pros who did not make the startlist for their trade team. Alongside Albasini will be the likes of Silvan Dillier, Stefan Küng and mountain bike world champion Nino Schurter.
This may be Albasini's final race, and we hope to see something special from him.
Remco Evenepoel is one of the strongest riders on the startlist. His youthful exuberance however may have cost him the victory at the Lockdown De Ronde earlier this month. Evenepoel blasted off the start and led the race until the Oude Kwaremont. He was then overhauled and subsequently dropped.
The Digital Swiss 5 may be the perfect venue for redemption. The Rouvy platform provides no benefit for drafting, so raw strength will be king. Evenepoel may just have the motor to leave everyone behind for good this time.
Craddock was an early adopter of virtual training. He logged hundreds of miles on Zwift in the spring of 2015 after suffering multiple injuries in a crash during the Tour Down Under. Craddock credited the technology with saving his season, and five years later the Texan is still a fixture on the platform.
During the coronavirus lockdown, Craddock has been participating in a virtual edition of his local Thursday night criterium in Austin, Texas. Craddock will step up from amateur virtual racing to the big leagues during the Digital Suisse 5, where he is slated to ride two stages for EF Pro Cycling.
To keep up with how Lawson Craddock is spending his time during lockdown, be sure to tune into Cabin Fever an exclusive weekly series with Lawson Craddock on FloBikes.
The world champion will be racing the flat stage 2 of the Digital Swiss 5. The powerful Dane is wary of the short distance and expects the stage to be one of his hardest efforts.
While the stage would favor a sprinter if it were to be raced in the real world, on Rouvy, it may play into the hands of a powerhouse like Pedersen.
Michael Matthews is perhaps the only sprinter with a shot in the Digital Swiss 5. Matthews is capable of putting out impressive prologue time trial efforts, and should not be so quickly written off in a world without drafting.
Following a DNF in his virtual racing debut at the De Ronde Lockdown Edition, Matthews will be extra motivated for redemption.
It will be a tall order for the Australian, but should the races start out with civility, Matthews may find himself in a strong position for the finish.
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