2023 Tour de Suisse Preview

Get ready for the hardest edition of the Tour de Suisse I can remember. It’s like the organisers have put together their greatest hits, the race has stage finishes in Villars, Leukerbad and La Punt, which makes three uphill/mountaintop finishes. Throw in two ITTs, a couple of stages over 200km (both of which start with a big mountain), and you can start to see why few Tour de France contenders are here, it’s far too hard. What it does mean is that we’re in for a week full of exciting racing.

Stage 1

A flat 12.6km ITT around a lake. Evenepoel is here, but he’ll be pushed all the way by Van Aert, Küng and Bissegger.

Stage 2

About as easy a stage you’re likely to get in this race. It still has 2000m of climbing, but that’s easy in this part of the world.

Scenario – bunch sprint.

Stage 3

The climb to Villars-sur-Ollon has recently been used as an ITT in Tour de Romandie, but I remember Froome winning here in 2016. Tour de Suisse organisers have now decided to borrow it, which is great news as the climb is 10km at 7.8%, a great way to get the GC ball rolling.

Scenario – GC day.

Stage 4

The finish in Leukerbad was last used in 2021 and Carapaz took the win, before that it was Ulissi winning in 2018. This year the organisers are using a different road up to the finish, one that is harder than in previous editions. This stage normally ends in a GC sprint, but I don’t think that will happen this time.

Scenario – GC day.

Stage 5

Three consecutive mountain stages, the legs will be getting tired at this point. The day starts with the Furkapass and ends with the Albulapass, before a fast descent down into La Punt, which is where Pozzovivo and Rui Costa won in 2017 and 2013. This stage has 4539m of climbing, the hardest in the race, and has 22km of racing at over 2000m of altitude. It’s a huge day.

Scenario – with the GC already blown apart, this is a great day for the breakaway.

Stage 6

Starts with a big climb and finishes with a tricky lap circuit.

Scenario – either the break or a day a team with a climbing sprinter tries to control.

Stage 7

With just one sprint so far in the race, the sprint teams will want to try and control this stage, but it won’t be easy. There’s 2537m of climbing but everyone will be tired after all the mountain stages, it depends on the attitude of the peloton.

Scenario – reduced bunch sprint.

Stage 8 

The race ends with a 26km ITT, but will the fight for yellow go all the way to the final stage?


Remco Evenepoel – after having to quit the Giro with COVID, I understand why he starts as the overwhelming favourite for this race, but it’s not a foregone conclusion he’ll win. The mountain stages will push him to his limit, but he will have an advantage due to the 38.5km of TTs. Soudal – Quick Step arrive here with a mixed team, Remco will be alone in the finale of the mountain stages, which makes life complicated. The best thing for him to do is smash the first mountain stage and put the fear of God up everyone else, I think it could well be his approach too. Despite all he’s already won, winning this race would be a big moment in his career, but his preparation has obviously been far from ideal.

Juan Ayuso – the new kid on the block. Still just 20, but my goodness, what a talent. Third in last year’s Vuelta was an amazing result, but this year has been interrupted by knee injury. He did well in Romandie, I would expect him to now be at his best, which should be a level higher than he reached last year. The new Pogačar is such a lazy comparison, this kid has what it takes to rewrite the history books, I hope starting here.

Jay Vine – was nowhere near his best at the Giro, but he could be nearing a peak now. The problem is knowing how the legs will respond after that race, I doubt even he’ll know how he’ll go this week. UAE will hope to have both Vine and Ayuso challenging for the win, it would give them a tactical advantage over Evenepoel.

Pello Bilbao – he raced a lot in the opening months of the season, but illness ruined the Basque Country for him, and he didn’t recover in time to do anything in the Ardennes. After a period of rest and training, he’s back and raring to go. As the Tour de France starts in the Basque Country, I expect Bilbao to be peaking for that point, wearing yellow in his homeland would be incredible for him. If that’s the case, he should already be at a high level and looking to fight for the podium in this race. 

Gino Mäder – second in Romandie last year, home races get the best out of him. Bahrain will hope to have both cards to play in the mountain stages, Mäder has what it takes to follow the best riders and challenge for the podium. 

Wilco Kelderman – injury has ruined much of his season; he’s only got 6 race days in the legs thanks to a crash in Tirreno. He’ll arrive nice and fresh, not a bad thing when coming to this race, but will his lack of racing stop him from challenging for the win? He’ll have to take it day by day and see how he responds. 

Sergio Higuita – it’s not been his season; he’s rarely looked at his best. This race is being used to show that he deserves a place in the Tour de France team, I hope to see him at his best. If he reaches that level, a top 5 is achievable.

Felix Gall – after a good season, he’ll be aiming for the top 10 and maybe a stage win.

Mattias Skjelmose – the young Dane has had a brilliant season, but this race will be a massive challenge for him. This will be the hardest race he’ll have done; the three consecutive mountain stages will push him to his limit, but I have high hopes for him. He’ll do well in the TTs, the top 10 on GC would be a terrific result.

Romain Bardet – he’s been gradually improving throughout the season, hopefully his peak is just around the corner. On his day, he’s a magnificent climber, more than capable of winning a stage in this race. Hopefully the TTs don’t ruin his chances of fighting for the podium.

Neilson Powless – fourth here last year, can he go better and edge onto the podium? That won’t be easy, I’m interested to see just how far he can go in the mountain stages, he’s not yet shown to be at the top level in the high mountains, but he’s not far off.

Prediction Time

It’s going to be Evenepoel versus Ayuso.

Embed from Getty Images

I’ll take a win for Juan Ayuso..