For some, the Tour de Suisse marks the ultimate preparation for the Tour de France. For others, the eight-day race is a purpose in and of itself. As ever, the occasion attracts one of many deepest fields of the season.
The headline act is Remco Evenepoel, again in motion after COVID-19 lower brief his Giro d’Italia marketing campaign. The world champion, who isn’t headed for the Tour de France, will look to put down an early marker in Sunday’s opening time trial, the place a well-known foe may present some stiff opposition.
Wout van Aert is making his Tour de Suisse debut this yr as he builds in direction of July, however the Belgian may also be minded to check himself within the mountains throughout the week. An intriguing contest is in retailer.
There are, in fact, many extra subplot to the Tour de Suisse, and a variety of contenders each for the general title and for stage wins alongside the best way. Forward of the race, Cyclingnews takes a have a look at the ten riders to look at on the Tour de Suisse.
Remco Evenepoel was within the general lead of the Giro d’Italia after every week till COVID-19 took him out of the race, and who is aware of what may need occurred had that misfortune not struck. Profitable the Tour de Suisse won’t ever exorcise these explicit demons, however Evenepoel will look to show a degree all the identical.
Evenepoel has not raced since successful the time trial on stage 9 of the Giro on Might 14, with the added complication of recovering from COVID-19, plus the necessity to plot an upwards trajectory for his major goals later in the summertime, so it stays to be seen what kind of kind he brings to Switzerland. A monster seven-hour coaching trip this week will surely counsel he has laid some respectable foundations.
The 2 time trials that bookend the race look notably interesting, with Evenepoel having gained each the Giro time trials he raced final month, and in addition looking forward to the defence of his Belgian nationwide TT crown the week after the end of Suisse. The mountains in between seem like extra of an unknown however Evenepoel has the apparent calibre to be up there, and will properly have a while to play with due to the TTs. He’ll begin because the favorite.
Wout van Aert makes his Tour de Suisse debut, marking uncharted territory in his preparations for a fifth Tour de France. In three of the previous 4 seasons, the Belgian has ridden the Critérium du Dauphiné, successful phases and the inexperienced jersey every time. Nonetheless, 2023 has seen a slight shuffle, with Van Aert making his last pre-Tour look every week later, and stacking two altitude coaching camps beforehand. It is a related trajectory generally, however the tweak is likely to be all the way down to the sooner World Championships, which occur this yr simply a few weeks after the Tour.
The Worlds are a significant goal of Van Aert’s this yr and it stays to be seen simply how he has tailor-made his coaching since his Paris-Roubaix heartbreak closed his Spring marketing campaign in early April. It is a rider, in any case, who can do absolutely anything – typically throughout the identical race, as he confirmed in a 2021 Tour the place he gained a mountain stage, a bunch dash, and a time trial.
It is not past the realms of chance to contemplate Van Aert a contender for the general title at Suisse, not least due to the 38.4km of time trialling that traces the route. Van Aert has proven in earlier Excursions that he can climb with the perfect, remarkably staying with Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar many of the approach as much as Hautacam final yr. Suisse might properly give us a sign of whether or not that type of mountain domestique show may be anticipated as soon as once more at this yr’s Tour, or whether or not Van Aert sacrifices somewhat climbing means to focus extra on phases, sprints, and naturally Worlds.
Then once more, it isn’t like he actually has to decide on. On the very least, you’ll be able to count on Van Aert to be within the hunt for stage victories in Switzerland throughout the 2 time trials and the sprints.
One other star title on the Tour de Suisse line-up, Tom Pidcock is getting ready for his second Tour de France, after lighting up his debut final yr with a scintillating stage win up at Alpe d’Huez.
The British rider had a combined spring, successful Strade Bianche in model and incomes podiums at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Amstel Gold Race, however with out the top-level consistency he’d have favored after crashing out of Tirreno-Adriatico with concussion. He hasn’t raced since Liège, at the very least not on the street, with different mountain bike plates nonetheless being spun by the multi-disciplinary expertise.
Pidcock rode the identical programme final yr and needed to abandon Suisse with COVID-19 however bounced again to play a number one position on the Tour, through which he wore the white jersey for some time and completed sixteenth general. The 23-year-old has voiced his ambition to win the Tour at some point and whereas this yr could come too quickly for a severe GC bid, it might properly see him check the waters somewhat additional, even when one other stage win would stay the precedence.
The 2 time trials at Suisse might dent any general hopes right here after Pidcock slipped out of the lead on the ultimate TT of the Volta ao Algarve in February, however we must always at the very least get a sign of how he is going forward of the Tour, and figuring out Pidcock, a little bit of leisure alongside the best way.
His star could have waned in recent times, however Peter Sagan remains to be one other enormous title on the Tour de Suisse begin listing. The three-time world champion is a good of the game but additionally particularly of the Tour de Suisse, because the all-time document stage winner with no fewer than 18 to his title, from 2011 to 2022.
Outdoors of the Slovakian Championships, Sagan’s final win got here at Suisse final yr, which given he did not trip in 2020 or 2021, made it at the very least one win in each participation since 2011. The 33-year-old’s win price has slowed markedly because the pandemic, to the extent that he’ll name time on his street profession on the finish of this season.
It is troublesome to actually again Sagan for top-level wins nowadays, but when he will do it wherever, it is certainly the Tour de Suisse.
The Spanish sensation has had a tough begin to 2023 after ending on the rostrum of the Vuelta a España in his first full season as a professional, however he might transfer via the gears on the Tour de Suisse.
After battling tendinitis because the begin of the yr, he solely made his debut on the latest Tour de Romandie, however stormed to victory within the stage 3 time trial. He ended up sixteenth general after struggling on the Thyon 2000 summit end, however he had warned that is likely to be the case beforehand, and his week was just about successful.
Now greater than a month down the road, expectations will rise. The 2 time trials at Suisse will certainly see Ayuso enter the GC fray, whereas the additional coaching he has carried out ought to assist him with that lacking endurance for the more durable phases. Suisse is a distinct proposition to Romandie – longer and harder – however the 20-year-old is the type of phenomenon who might be again up to the mark very quickly in any respect.
We have already gone via a few of the greatest stars of world biking of latest years, however there’s a deep begin listing stuffed with much less established skills who’re maybe not far-off from the higher echelons of the game.
Cian Uijtdebroeks was as soon as dubbed the ‘subsequent Remco Evenepoel’, and whereas he hasn’t hit the skilled ranks operating in fairly the identical approach as his fellow Belgian, he’s steadily – however nonetheless rapidly in previous cash – stringing collectively a stronger and stronger set of outcomes.
Apart from the Tour of the Alps, which he left via sickness, the 20-year-old has positioned high 10 in all three of his stage races thus far this yr, with ninth on the Tour of Oman and Volta a Catalunya and extra just lately sixth on the Tour de Romandie.
Sergio Higuita seems to be set to line up for Bora-Hansgrohe however Uijtdebroeks’ progress is definitely value maintaining a tally of.
One other younger rider who’s discovering his stride, Ben Tulett heads into the Tour de Suisse trying to check his GC credentials amongst a world class discipline. Now in his second season with Ineos, having turned professional as an 18-year-old with Alpecin-Deceuninck in 2020, Tulett has made enormous progress in Might, successful the Tour of Norway after ending runner-up behind Marc Hirschi on the Tour de Hongrie.
For a light-weight rider, Tulett is especially robust in opposition to the clock. He gained the prologue on the Tour of Norway and when you look again to his Grand Tour debut finally yr’s Giro d’Italia, he was a highly-impressive fifth place in each time trials.
The Tour de Suisse, then, ought to swimsuit him with its two time trials, whereas the mountains will present how a lot progress he has but to make as a climber with the intention to shut in on his long-term GC aspirations.
Neilson Powless was fourth general finally yr’s COVID-attritional Tour de Suisse and can be out for extra this yr after his finest ever begin to a season. The US rider gained the GP La Marseillaise and Etoile de Bessèges, then made the rostrum at Tour du Var and positioned sixth general at Paris-Good. Into the Classics, and he had a fair greater breakthrough as a one-day rider following his 2021 Clásica San Sebastián victory, with seventh at Milan-San Remo after which, in a exceptional cobbles debut, third at Dwars door Vlaanderen and fifth at Tour of Flanders.
The Ardennes did not go to plan, with two DNFs, however Powless definitely discovered a brand new stage within the first a part of the yr and, after a post-Spring break, is choosing issues again up forward of the Tour. Final yr he was twelfth general on the Grande Boucle, after that includes in quite a few breakaways, and a primary stage win ought to be inside grasp, whereas one other respectable GC end isn’t out of the query, both.
The Tour de Suisse ought to give us a sign of how his preparation has gone and what US followers can count on from him on the Tour.
The Dutch rider has solely carried out one race this yr and did not even end it. He crashed out of Tirreno-Adriatico in March and needed to be faraway from Jumbo-Visma’s plans for the Giro d’Italia. He wasn’t meant to be within the Tour de France line-up, however after the accidents suffered by Steven Kruijswijk on the Dauphiné, it seems to be like he is on the aircraft to Bilbao.
The 32-year-old is a confirmed GC campaigner, with a Grand Tour podium on the Giro and top-fives on the Tour and Vuelta, though he has had greater than a justifiable share of crashes and misfortune through the years. He can be thought of a GC candidate for Suisse ordinarily, however a lot is determined by Jumbo-Visma’s plans and his personal state of kind after so little racing this yr.
In that respect, the most important level of intrigue isn’t a lot Kelderman’s personal consequence every week on Sunday, however what his efficiency says of his Tour de France prospects. The workforce have the aforementioned Wout van Aert, however the one correct climber on their Tour workforce is Sepp Kuss, and he did the entire Giro. Vingegaard will want one other large rider within the mountains and Suisse ought to reveal whether or not Kelderman can step up, and the way a lot of a blow Kruijswijk’s absence is likely to be.
Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert)
Biniam Girmay’s Classics marketing campaign ended abruptly along with his heavy crash on the Tour of Flanders, however the Eritrean made an encouraging return to motion on the Brussels Biking Traditional final weekend, occurring the assault earlier than inserting fourth within the dash.
After Girmay’s Gent-Wevelgem victory and Giro d’Italia stage win in 2022, expectations had been excessive for this season, and he received off to a quick begin with a stage win on the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. The remainder of the Spring didn’t run to plan, in fact, however he confirmed flashes of his high quality at Tirreno-Adriatico.
Girmay is now constructing in direction of his Tour de France debut, and the Tour de Suisse will provide him an opportunity to run via the scales forward of La Grande Boucle. “After all I’ve ambition. As a toddler I dreamed of at some point driving the Tour,” Girmay informed Het Nieuwsblad final week. “However first I’ve to guarantee that I can seem in the beginning in fine condition.”
The Tour de Suisse ought to serve him in good stead, and it may also give him an opportunity to notch up his first WorldTour win of the yr.