2023 Tour de Suisse Stage 3 Preview

Tafers > Villars 143km

The first of three consecutive mountain stages and the bunch head for Villars-sur-Ollon. Those with a good memory will remember 2016 when Chris Froome was in his pomp, he won here in Tour de Romandie, but it was coming from a different side. Larry Warbasse won in 2017, this year it’s the same climb as that day. For those that don’t remember, it’s a very hard climb, it’s going to show who will be in contention for the yellow jersey.


Sunny and temperatures will be around 20 degrees, but cooler up the mountains. There’s a small risk of rain late in the afternoon.

The Climbs

Col des Mosses is up first, it’s easy for a cat 1 climb.

The climb to Villars-sur-Ollon is very difficult, there’s not many sections where riders can rest. The big moves will come will 2-3km to go.


Can the break win? Groupama – FDJ won’t be actively chasing the break, that will have to be done by another team, so we could see the big teams looking at each other for a while before someone takes up the work. The break will hope this game of poker will allow them to build a big lead and take the stage, but I would say it’s unlikely.

The first cat 1 climb is easy, this stage is all about the final mountain. 9.5km at 7.9% is tough but coming at the start of the week and in an easy stage, the gaps could be smaller than you think. All eyes will be on Evenepoel, but Soudal – Quick Step don’t have the team to control the final climb. On paper, UAE are the strongest team in the race, they should be the ones dictating the pace on the climb, they’ll see this as a big chance of taking a win with Ayuso. 

I’m looking forward to seeing how Evenepoel approaches this stage, I have no idea how his legs will respond, I’m not sure he does either. Kelderman should be good, but the climbing talent here is not as strong as the Dauphiné or most of the other big stage races this year. Anything but a win for Evenepoel or Ayuso would be a massive surprise in my book, hopefully we see them go toe-to-toe. 


Remco Evenepoel – before the Giro he had a long period at altitude, followed by Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Since abandoning the Giro, he had a period off his bike, followed by training in Belgium. Without a shadow of a doubt, he won’t be as strong as he was in Liège, but no one really knows how good he’ll be. 

Juan Ayuso – such a talent, he knows a good day will put him in a strong position to win the yellow jersey, it would be his first GC success as a pro. UAE have a strong team to support him, despite a few of them crashing today, I expect them to boss the final climb. Vine should be the final man, then we’ll see if the young Spaniard has what it takes to drop Evenepoel. As I mentioned in my overall preview, to compare him to Pogačar is lazy, but there’s definite similarities between the two of them. Both finished 3rd in the Vuelta, on grand tour debut, at 19 years of age. That was an incredible achievement, there is a feeling that Ayuso could be even better than Pogačar, you might need a stiff drink after reading that.

Wilco Kelderman – comes here after altitude camp, the Jumbo-Visma riders usually go very well after spending a few weeks up at the top of a mountain. Kelderman has always been a huge talent, but he rarely wins, something he’d love to put right.

Romain Bardet – form seems to be building nicely with the Tour just a matter of weeks away. He’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t finish in the top 5 in this stage, but winning will require a return to days of yonder.

Mattias Skjelmose – 2023 has already been a brilliant year for Mattias, 2nd in Flèche Wallonne was my personal highlight. This race is a massive challenge for him, the three mountain stages will push him to his limit, and maybe a bit beyond. He’s another just back from altitude training, in his case he only returned on Thursday, which adds an element of doubt about his level in the opening stages of this race. Fingers crossed, he’s on a good day, and can challenge for the win.

Felix Gall – the Austrian is in brilliant form; his reward is a new deal with AG2R. He’s been close to taking his first pro win in recent weeks, but given who he’s up against in this stage, winning will be very hard. I think if he’s improved a little from his last outing in the Mercan’Tour, he could challenge for the top 5.

Sergio Higuita – hasn’t had a good season, despite a stage win in the Basque Country, he’s here to prove he deserves a place in the Tour de France team. I’m going to assume he’ll be at his best, that means he should be challenging for the win. 

Pello Bilbao – another looking to get ready for the Tour de France. Bilbao rarely wins uphill finishes, I don’t see him winning this stage, a place between 5th and 10th is likely.

Tom Pidcock – his win in Strade Bianche was brilliant, he backed that up with podium finishes in both Amstel and Liège, yet I get the feeling he would have wanted more. Since Liège, he’s been focusing on getting in shape for the Tour de France, that means getting back in the swing of climbing big mountains. If he’s here for GC (I assume he is) it’s the first time he’s done so in a race of this difficulty. Can he surprise and challenge for the win?

Roland Thalmann – breakaway hopeful number 1.

Mark Donovan – breakaway hopeful number 2.

Vadim Pronskiy – breakaway hopeful number 3.

Prediction Time

UAE to chase the break and set up a GC fight for the stage.

Embed from Getty Images

I’ll take a win for Juan Ayuso, it’s time for him to shine.