Which Russia squad is going to show up? They one where they are in every lead group or the one when they are utterly anonymous?
For my next if, then statement let's go to Artem Nych. If Nych is on good form, then he can certainly make select groups on hilly courses. If he isn't, then he will be working for the team.
Where are my manners, the two leaders for this team are Mamykin and Arslanov. Mamykin was on his game in the Giro della Valle d'Aosta with his stage win to Valtournenche albeit he didn't finish the stage race. He was on form at Tour Alsace by getting into the stage one breakaway and continued on with some breakaways to finish 15th overall and 3rd in the KOM classification.
Arslanov, well he is an enigma. He obviously can climb very well as he won the Valle d'Aosta uphill TT last year and was working for Alexander Foliforov all year last year in the mountains. This year though he cannot seem to put it together. He was 5th on the stage to Praded in the Zavod Miru but then slipped back on the next stage in 16th place to lose a top GC place. He can make leading groups but it really comes down to the rider that shows up.
Russia has made some changes to the l'Avenir roster in the 11th hour. Stash went to the Baltic Tour and instead of him and Kustadinchev, it is last year's 3rd place finisher Rybalkin and former junior wunderking Cherkasov. Rybalkin is a threat for the overall classification after finishing 16th overall in the big boy Volta a Portugal and winning the best young rider classification by a country mile. He was actually the first finisher outside of Portugal or Spain, which tells you something about the race. If his form has carried over, he has the potential to be a podium threat. Cherkasov can also climb well but he is still finding his feet in the U23 ranks.
Prediction: Rybalkin finishes 4th overall and Mamykin finishes 10th overall;
Roster: Fabian Leinhard, Dylan Page, Gian Friesecke, Thery Schir, Patrick Müller and Tom Bohli
They have...THE POWER! Seriously though, Tom Bohli is a freight train from the school of recent Swiss misters Stefan Küng and Silvan Dillier. Bohli will be going into the prologue with top 5 favorite status. His time trial powers also spill over into bunch sprints, where Bohli has been a top 10 presence throughout the year. Or if he copies his Berner Rundfahrt exploits, he could attack and hold off a group of 15 to take a spectacular win.
Thery Schir is a power of the track but it has spilled onto the road. He is the two-time Swiss time trial champion and like Bohli, comes in with ambitions for the prologue. He does have a turn of speed that has gotten him close to a sprint wins in the Olympia's Tour and the Tour Alsace.
The other potential sprinter is Dylan Page albeit he is the less consistent option. He was 3rd in the bunch sprint in the Trofeo Almar (12th overall) and was up in the kicks in the Fleche du Sud. In any case, it seems like a decent 3-man sprint squad.
Leinhard is more of a one-day racer but maybe...well no. Because the stages here are mostly black and white. The first three are sprints and the last three are mountains with the 4th stage being the only one that could be interesting to break it up. Friesecke is a bit in the same way as he gets results here and there but he is here for experience.
The interesting climber on this team is first-year Patrick Müller. Solid one-day racer. Developing stage racer. 10th in Rhone Alpes Isere and top 20 in Pays de Savoie. Won the Swiss U23 RR. If there is one Swiss rider to watch with an eye for a future in the mountains, look here.
Prediction: Bohli goes top 3 in the prologue; Müller gets top 10 on a mountain stage