From his home in Vétroz, it takes about an hour for Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ) to drive to Oron, the start of the next Tour de Romandie (27 April to 2 May).
One of two Swiss events on the 2021 UCI WorldTour Calendar – alongside the Tour de Suisse -, the Tour de Romandie takes place uniquely in the French-speaking Romandie region of Switzerland. This year, stage two will start from Aigle, the city where the Union Cycliste Internationale has its headquarters.
The Swiss climber Reichenbach knows the roads well and shares his insights on this year’s route, which includes an unprecedented summit finish in Thyon 2000.
Last time we saw you in a professional race, you were 4th in the last stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. What have you been doing since?
Sébastien Reichenbach (SR): After Catalunya, I have prepared for the Giro d'Italia. First, I needed to recover a bit. I didn't have too many races in the first part of the season but I trained hard and there was a bit of fatigue at the end of March. Then I did some classic work, lots of hours and endurance training. And last week I started working the high intensities to get ready for the next goals. The Tour de Romandie will allow me to reach some rhythm ahead of a big month in May. I'm in a good condition. I just need a few days of racing to be at my best at the right moment.
You also rode the Grand Prix de l’Échappée, organised by the VC Excelsior in Martigny…
SR: I didn't have races on my schedule. I was supposed to do some French Cup races but they got cancelled. My club was organising this race that they've held for a long time, and the level was impressive this year. It was nice to participate and to return to a race that helped teach me how to ride my bike! When I was a kid, I had friends who were already in that club and they told me to come ride with them. That's how I got started. This is one of the best clubs in Switzerland.
What is it like to ride in Romandie?
SR: It's a perfect playground for me, all year long. Even the winters are less and less cold and it's possible to ride all year round with good conditions. As we get to the warm days, the playground extends with the opening of the mountain passes. I never get tired of training in my valley, the Rhône valley, whether it is with my road bike or my mountain bike. I live in Vétroz and I love to ride my mountain bike on the sunny hills on the right bank, even when I need to recover after a race.
With this expertise, what do you think of the route for the coming Tour de Romandie?
SR: It should be really fun. Above all, we have an unprecedented summit finish at 2,000m [stage 4, from Sion to Thyon 2000]. It will be impressive. It's a stage I know by heart and I'm really looking forward to being there. There's an easier stage in the valley, around Martigny, with a few climbs [stage 1]. It should be a sprint. The stage to Saint-Imier [stage 2] is difficult but it's not high mountain. It's a really hard Tour de Romandie, it's been quite some time since we had something like that. Everyone can find terrain suited to his abilities. I think there will be two sprints, two hard stages and two time-trials.
What are the goals for this race?
SR: The team doesn't have a set leader; we'll have our shot at stages. Stefan Küng will be very motivated for the time trials. And then it will be open. We'll have to take our chances to grab a stage win. That's what matters the most.
You're in for your 6th participation. What does this race mean to you?
SR: For me, it's the most beautiful event! We're lucky to have several UCI WorldTour events in Switzerland. Some years, I haven't raced them, and it's a shame to watch them on TV without participating. When you do the Giro, it's more complicated to participate in the Tour de Suisse or Tour de Romandie... I really wanted to be at least in Romandie this year. I want to win a stage before the end of my career. To win a stage at home would be awesome.
The Tour de Romandie was also one of your first professional races, in 2013, with the Swiss team IAM Cycling. What memories do you have?
SR: Cold and mostly rainy! This year, the forecasts seem ok, but sometimes we have atrocious conditions. In 2013, they had to change the route for the queen stage. It was my first UCI WorldTour race. It's always impressive. I was very motivated and I felt great. I love riding there. On every stage, there are people I know. It motivates me ten times more.