With one stage victory and top-10 GC finishes in all three of the team’s previous participations, the Tour de Suisse has historically been a successful race for Israel – Premier Tech. Ambitious goals are once again in place for next week’s edition, the team’s final outing before the Tour de France.

“It’s one of the hardest Tours de Suisse in recent years,” Sports Director Sam Bewley says. “It’s always a difficult race, but even the sprint stages aren’t guaranteed to be full bunch sprints.

“But we’ve got a well-balanced team, with objectives across the whole week. Some of the guys have just come from a good altitude camp, so they’re raring to go.”

The three riders – George Bennett, Matthew Riccitello, and Stevie Williams – who were training in the mountains throughout May form the basis of the team’s GC and back-end stage objectives.

A sprint-focused trio comprising Pascal Ackermann (below), Michael Schwarzmann, and Jake Stewart will link up again after working together to post four top-10 stage results at the 4 Jours de Dunkerque and Brussels Cycling Classic in the past month. Completing the line-up is Italian rider Marco Frigo, who impressed during the final week of this year’s Giro d’Italia.

“It’s been a while since the Ardennes, so I’m just excited to get racing again,” says Williams, a former stage winner in the race. “The first few days of Suisse will show me where I’m at.

“I’ve done Suisse a couple of times and it’s always a tough race. It’s a race of two halves – an individual time trial and then the two flattest road stages to begin. I’m interested to see how they’re raced – stage three strikes me as being one for a smaller group. I think it could be full on, which is what I like. Once stage four arrives, the GC will sort itself out, and it’ll be a lot more organized.”

Bennett finished third the last time he raced GC at April’s Giro d’Abruzzo, while second-year pro Riccitello has top-15 finishes to his name in both Abruzzo and UAE Tour so far this season. With four mountain top finishes in a row, the parcours in Switzerland should suit both riders.

Bewley says: “The GC days are heavily loaded with the climbing meters. There are some familiar climbs – such as Gotthard Pass, the week’s first summit finish, on stage 4 – but there are also some new climbs that are even steeper than what we’re used to seeing in the past.”

Williams adds: “Obviously we have Matthew and George there as pure climbers. I still feel being a puncheur is my forte, but climbing well in the mountains at Catalunya really gave me a big boost. If I can suffer and suffer, but make it to the finish in a reduced group, then it’s good for me and good for them.”

Morale within IPT has been boosted by the team’s performance at this week’s Critérium du Dauphiné, most notably Derek Gee’s stage victory on Tuesday. The majority of those riders competing in France were also part of last month’s altitude camp alongside Bennett, Riccitello, and Williams.

“Final preparations for the Tour is a big objective for most of the guys in this race, but the guys are all ready to put in some good performances here,” adds Bewley.

“The team has done a really good job of outlining our objectives for the Tour, with these final two WorldTour stage races forming a big part of our build-up towards it. The beauty of this point of the season is that everybody is flying, as we saw with Derek in France, so let’s hope we can also turn that form into results in the coming days at Suisse.”

IPT at the Tour de Suisse

Riders: Pascal Ackermann (GER), George Bennett (NZL), Marco Frigo (ITA), Matthew Riccitello (USA), Michael Schwarzmann (GER), Jake Stewart (GBR), Stevie Williams (GBR)

Sports Directors: Sam Bewley (NZL), Steve Bauer (CAN), Dror Pekatch (ISR)