Because the Critérium du Dauphiné reaches its climax, the Tour de Suisse will get underway on the opposite facet of the Alps with a special forged of riders however lots of the similar pre-Tour de France aspirations.
The invoice in Switzerland is headed, thoughts, by a rider who received’t journey the Tour de France in any respect, at the least in response to his Soudal-QuickStep staff. However Remco Evenepoel’s return to competitors is the storyline of the week all the identical. The Tour de Suisse is at all times one thing greater than a mere preparation race.
As ever, there are dozens of subplots on the Tour de Suisse. Forward of the race, Cyclingnews appears at 5 of the important thing questions that may outline the week’s motion.
Can Remco Evenepoel decide up the place he left off on the Giro?
Remco Evenepoel’s determination to return to motion on the Tour de Suisse didn’t meet with the complete approval of Soudal-QuickStep supervisor Patrick Lefevere, who strongly hinted on the look charge that was being supplied by the Baloise Belgium Tour. “In all honesty, this can be a purely sporting alternative by himself and by coach Koen Pelgrim,” Lefevere wrote in his Het Nieuwsblad column.
Therein lies a touch as to Evenepoel’s aspirations this week. The world champion just isn’t in Switzerland merely to make up the numbers or pocket a cheque, however to win. Ostensibly, the prime sights of the Tour de Suisse are the time trials that bookend the race, on condition that Evenepoel is seeking to defend his Belgian time trial crown and decide up a world title within the self-discipline this summer time.
In actuality, the prospect to run by the scales earlier than these two occasions is merely a bonus. Evenepoel will begin in Switzerland as the apparent favorite for total victory and he will certainly be desperate to show a degree after COVID-19 pressured him out of the Giro d’Italia whereas sporting the maglia rosa.
Evenepoel appeared the overwhelming favorite to hold pink to Rome after his quick begin in Italy and his (relative) travails on the second weekend have been positioned in a really totally different context as soon as information of his COVID-19 case emerged. The Belgian as an alternative needed to watch because the Giro performed out with out him, and the Tour de Suisse presents an apparent likelihood to channel a few of his frustration and underline his stage racing credentials over again.
If Evenepoel showcases that Giro type right here, after all, one other query will inevitably bubble to the floor. Soudal-QuickStep stay adamant that the world champion won’t make his Tour de France debut this yr, however the murmurs will certainly begin over again if he triumphs in Switzerland.
What are Wout van Aert’s aims?
For every week or so, the Giro d’Italia appeared to supply the tantalising prospect of a duel between Evenepoel and Primož Roglič, the person who in the end did declare the Trofeo Senza High quality in Rome. The Slovenian, nonetheless, has since opted towards the Tour de Suisse and, barring one other harm disaster at his staff, his subsequent goal is about to be the Vuelta a España.
In Roglič’s absence, Wout van Aert leads the road for Jumbo-Visma in what can be his Tour de Suisse debut. His very presence in Switzerland is intriguing, on condition that the majority of Jumbo-Visma’s Tour de France squad is in motion with Jonas Vingegaard on the Critérium du Dauphiné. Might it’s that Van Aert is planning to make use of the Tour de Suisse to check his personal GC credentials, and towards his compatriot Evenepoel in addition?
Not so, in response to Jumbo-Visma, who insist that Van Aert’s aims in Switzerland will quantity to having a crack at each time trials and no matter bunch sprints could materialise over the week. The choice to race the Tour de Suisse as an alternative of the Dauphiné, coach Mathieu Heijboer defined, was taken to permit Van Aert to spend an extended interval at altitude forward of a busy summer time that may see him goal the Glasgow Worlds instantly after the Tour.
Regardless of, Van Aert can be value watching intently on the Tour de Suisse, his first race since his ill-starred podium end at Paris-Roubaix. And even when he received’t contest the general title with Evenepoel, their duel within the opening time trial can be no much less intense.
Can Peter Sagan decide up momentum in his ultimate season?
Peter Sagan made little impression within the final Classics marketing campaign of his profession, however the three-time world champion will hope to make a higher impression at his ultimate Tour de France, the place he has received a file seven inexperienced jerseys over time.
The factors competitors was his private fiefdom between 2012 and 2019 – solely a disqualification in 2017 broke his sequence of success – and in every of these seasons, he ready for the rigours of July on the Tour de Suisse, turning into an intrinsic a part of the rhythm of the race.
Sagan’s 18 stage wins in Switzerland are a file, and his most up-to-date triumph 12 months in the past appeared to mark a comeback after two years blighted by sickness. “It’s a aid to win. However life is life. The vital factor isn’t successful races, it’s being wholesome,” Sagan stated after that win.
The phrases have been sadly prescient. By week’s finish, the TotalEnergies rider had contracted COVID-19 for a 3rd time, and he was a shadow of himself on the Tour de France. The Suisse victory proved to be a false daybreak again then, however he’ll hope racing on acquainted roads this week might help to ignite a subdued farewell season.
There have been some encouraging indicators on the 4 Jours de Dunkerque final month, however the Tour de Suisse, as Sagan is aware of higher than anybody, is an altogether totally different degree of competitors.
Is Tom Pidcock prepared for his close-up?
Within the long-term, Ineos Grenadiers view Tom Pidcock as a possible Tour de France winner. Within the right here and now, nonetheless, the Briton has been understandably reluctant to pigeonhole himself as a stage race contender on condition that his sheer versatility lends itself so nicely to the Spring Classics, to not point out the cyclocross and mountain bike calendars.
With Egan Bernal nonetheless feeling his manner again after final yr’s career-threatening crash, and with Geraint Thomas lacking this July after his exertions on the Giro d’Italia, nonetheless, Ineos are nonetheless auditioning for a pacesetter on the Tour de France. Daniel Martínez is ostensibly the person to steer the road, although the Colombian hasn’t sparkled since his total victory on the Volta ao Algarve in February.
Pidcock will, inevitably, play a starring position for Ineos in July, with the hilly opening within the Basque Nation absolutely to his liking, but it surely stays to be seen if his ambitions can be oriented extra in the direction of repeating his 2022 stage victory or enhancing on his sixteenth place end within the total standings. His method to the Tour de Suisse this week needs to be instructive.
Will youth or expertise prevail in Switzerland?
Evenepoel and Pidcock aren’t the one younger males in a rush in motion in Switzerland this week. Juan Ayuso leads the road for UAE Staff Emirates, whereas Cian Uijtdebroeks will look to proceed his nice sophomore season at Bora-Hansgrohe with one other sturdy exhibiting right here.
Ayuso and Uijtdebroeks, like Evenepoel, should not slated to journey the Tour de France, and this race marks a key check for every man earlier than they flip their consideration to the lengthy lead-in to the Vuelta. It wouldn’t be a shock to see them contest the rostrum – or extra – in Abtwil on Sunday week.
A yr in the past, nonetheless, expertise received the day on the Tour de Suisse, with Geraint Thomas claiming victory on the ultimate stage after rigorously measuring his effort throughout the week, whereas one other veteran, Jakob Fuglsang, helped himself to 3rd total. A little bit of native data by no means hurts both, as repeat winners Rui Costa and Simon Spilak demonstrated a decade or so in the past. Certainly, the evergreen Rui Costa is readily available right here for Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, 9 years on from his final triumph.
Thomas is an absentee this yr, however there are a number of seasoned riders right here who will count on to function within the shake-up for total victory, together with Romain Bardet (DSM), Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) and Wilco Kelderman (Jumbo-Visma).