Froome tests Tour form in Switzerland

Chris Froome returns to Romandie to tune up his form for the Tour de France. The hilly Swiss race starts Monday.

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AFP) — Two-time defending Tour de France champion Chris Froome will test his form ahead of his bid for a fourth title in July at this week’s Tour de Romandie.

The Swiss race is designed to prepare riders for the Tour de France starting with Tuesday’s 4.8km prologue at Aigle, and including two mountain finishes before culminating with a tough 17.8km time trial Sunday in Lausanne.

Faithful to his winning pre-Tour de France formula, the 31-year-old Briton will be backed up by French teammate Kenny Elissonde, whose help will be particularly precious in the mountains.

Froome won the Swiss race in 2013 and 2014 going on to win the Tour de France in 2013, 2015, and 2016.

This year’s race brings together the 18 WorldTour teams plus one invitation for Belgian outfit Wanty-Groupe Gobert.

Several big names are absent including last year’s top two finishers: Nairo Quintana of Colombia and France’s Thibaut Pinot, who will compete in the Giro d’Italia starting May 5.

Swiss rider Michael Albasini has already won six stages and will bid to close in on the overall record of 12 held by Italian Mario Cipollini.

Tour de Romandie 2017 stages

Stage 1, April 25: Aigle prologue (4.8km)
Stage 2, April 26: Aigle to Champéry (173.3km)
Stage 3, April 27: Champéry to Bulle (160.7km)
Stage 4, April 28: Payerne to Payerne (187km)
Stage 5, April 29: Domdidier to Leysin (163.5km)
Stage 6, April 30: Lausanne individual time trial (17.88km)

Teams and lead riders

Ag2r La Mondiale (Matthias Frank, Alexis Vuillermoz)
BMC (Tejay van Garderen)
Cannondale-Drapac (Rigoberto Uran)
Quick-Step Floors (Bob Jungels)
FDJ (David Gaudu, Steve Morabito)
Lotto-Soudal (Thomas De Gendt)
Movistar (Winner Anacona)
Orica-Scott (Michael Albasini)
Dimension Data
Katusha-Alpecin (Simon Spilak, Ilnur Zakarin)
LottoNL-Jumbo (Jurgen Van Den Broek)
Sky (Chris Froome)
Sunweb (Warren Barguil)
Trek-Segafredo (Jarlinson Pantano)
UAE Abu Dhabi (Diego Ulissi)
Wanty-Groupe Gobert