The final stop in terms of Tour de France prep is here, it’s time for the 85th edition of the Tour de Suisse. This year sees the usual mix of brutally hard “sprint” days, two big mountain stages and a flat 25km TT to finish us off. I would say the route is significantly harder than the Dauphiné, it will be a proper test for all at the race, there are no easy stages.
We begin with a typical Suisse stage. There is a lap circuit featuring two climbs, it’s a day where some of the fast men will hope to survive and fight it out for the win. 2765m of climbing doesn’t sound too bad, but these stages are always harder than they look.
Easier than the opening stage, but the position of the final climb will make it very hard for those wanting a sprint. The cat 2 effort is 6.2km at 6.2% and crests with just 14.5km to go, nearly all of which is downhill. It’s a perfect stage for a small group to escape on the climb and take the win.
Over 3100m of climbing will make this a tough day in the legs, but with the last of the tough climbs cresting with over 60km to go, it could end in a sprint. Looking to stop that from happening will be the breakaway riders, this is a perfect stage for the those wanting the early break to succeed.
The easiest stage of the race, but just like stage 2, the placement of the final climb isn’t good news for those wanting a sprint. The cat 2 effort is 3km at 8.8%, followed by a fast downhill to the line. Another stage where a late attack has every chance of taking the stage, but the sprinters will live in hope.
A beautiful stage, it screams Tirreno to me, and we are very close to the Italian border. We have a lap circuit that is full of little kickers and fast descents, this is the stage for me.
The first of the big mountain stages. The final climb to Moosalp is not one I know; I’m looking forward to discovering it. In the middle of the stage the riders climb the Nufenenpass, which goes all the way up to 2417m above sea level, that’s a long way up! The final climb is 17.8km at 7.1%, that’s a very long climb considering the average gradient.
The second of the big GC days, finishing up another climb I don’t know. This one is a whopping 12.5km at 8.8%, a very demanding finish awaits the climbers.
The race ends with a 25km TT, which is relatively flat. Coming after a very hard week, we could see some interesting results.
Remco Evenepoel – he starts as the favourite to take home the title, but I’m not so sure about that. Okay, he climbed very well in the Tour of Norway, but that wasn’t against the best climbers in the world. In this race we have two big mountain stages, after the way he climbed at the start of the year, there is no guarantee that Remco will be up there with the best. The TT is obviously great for him, but the gaps could be smaller than usual due to the fact it comes at the end of a very hard race. I think he has a good chance of challenging for the win, but he’s not my favourite.
Ineos – they arrive with Yates, Martínez and Thomas, which gives them plenty of options. Martínez has been their best GC rider this year, with 3rd place finishes in the Algarve and Paris-Nice, and he took home the hat after winning in the Basque Country. With Tour de France leadership up for grabs, I expect all three of their leaders to be at their best, and when Adam Yates is at his best, he’s a hard man to beat. The two mountain stages are very hard, it’s possible for the best climber to get a big enough gap to win the race, even with the TT to follow. I think Yates and Martínez will be very hard to beat.
Aleksandr Vlasov – one of the riders of the season, his first half of the season was simply outstanding. He’s now put himself forward as a genuine contender for the Tour de France podium, this race is an important part of his preparation. He climbs as well as he’s done in the early part of the season, he’s a massive contender for this race, especially given the improvement in his TT.
Gino Mäder – a rider who has the extra motivation of riding on home roads. He was 2nd in Romandie thanks to a brilliant TT performance and he won the Queen stage of this race back in 2021, riding in Switzerland does seem to get the best out of him. Last year we witnessed Mäder continue to improve, he won a stage in the Giro and finished 5th in the Vuelta, this year I would like to see him continue to improve. I think he could win this race.
Sepp Kuss – one of the rare opportunities for Sepp to lead Jumbo-Visma. As the Tour is just around the corner, I would expect him to be at his best. He’s not had much to write home about this year, but the route of this race is good one for him. The final climb in stage 7 is great for him, he’s usually one of the best on super steep gradients.
Alexey Lutsenko – just 12 race days this year, at least he’ll be nice and fresh! The mountain stages look a little on the hard side for him.
Ion Izagirre – I was worried that his move to Cofidis would have started a decline in his career, I’m glad I was wrong. 2nd in the Basque Country was a brilliant performance, especially his stage win on Arrate. He comes into this race looking for another top 10 result on GC, and he can do so. He’ll be hoping for some typically Suisse weather, that would help him match up to those who are better climbers than him.
I like the look of the Ineos team, they have the strongest squad, which will give the multiple options. When he’s at his best he’s very hard to beat, I’ll take a win for Adam Yates.