The Tour of Switzerland 2023 will have little ground for speculation, we will find in a Tour of Switzerland with no less than four days with ascents and two time trials (the opening one and the closing one) in his eight days of racing. Remco Evenepoel aims to be one of the great favorites in his reappearance after the abrupt abandonment in the Giro due to COVID after, precisely, winning a time trial. Wout van Aert, who returns after the already distant Paris-Roubaix, and Juan Ayuso, in his second test of the year after the Tour de Romandie (where he won a time trial), present. Pidcock, Sagan, Pello Bilbao, Higuita, Powless, the host Küng… a list of illustrious people who will be part of the game, with Movistar as the only Spanish team. We review the seven stages:
Stage 1, Einsiedel-Einsiedel, 13 km (CRI) (Sunday June 11)
Time trial specialists will definitely be happy with this start. In Einsiedeln, the riders will complete a fast 12.7 kilometer time trial. It is not a classic prologue. The stage is a few kilometers too long for that. However, I don’t expect the big time slots. Rather, the fight for the victory of the day will be a close affair. Decisive seconds are also on the track for the drivers in the general classification.
Stage 2, Beromunster-Notwil, 174km (Monday June 12)
It’s a stage that should basically be preyed on by sprinters. However, as is often the case in Switzerland, the terrain is not completely flat, even on a sprinter’s stage. The fast sprinters have to ascend a total of 1,890 meters of altitude before they can fight for stage victory. The sprint teams will also have a lot to do to keep the field together. The first “real” leg of a tour is usually very lively as everyone is still recovered and motivated.
Stage 3, Tafers-Villars-sur-Ollon, 144km (Tuesday, June 13)
Already on the third day it will be exciting in terms of the general classification. After the start in Tafers, the Col des Mosses is the first big obstacle of the day. However, with the final ascent to Villars-sur-Ollon, the real test comes at the end of the stage. The goal of this third stage will be the first mountain finish of the 2023 Tour de Suisse. If you want to win the general classification of the tour, you cannot afford to be weak here.
Stage 4, Monthey-Leukerbad, 153km (Wednesday, June 14)
After yesterday’s climb, the classification has certainly taken its first contours. The teams of the best climbers from the previous day will probably try to win today’s stage, or make up ground in the general classification. The stage opens with a 24-kilometre start lap. The topography of the first 80 kilometers hardly deserves mention because it is completely flat. However, it will by no means be a rest day. There will be a first selection on the way to Crans-Montana. The final climb to the finish line in Leukerbad shows no mercy. Many meters of altitude await the runners on the ascent through Erschmatt and Albinen.
Stage 5, Fiesch-La Punt, 211 km (Thursday, June 15)
The reigning stage of the 86th Tour of Switzerland. With the alpine passes of Furka (the highest in this year’s Tour de Suisse), Oberalp and Albula, this will be an extremely tough stage. Expressed in numbers, that means 211 kilometers and 4,700 meters of elevation gain to conquer on the road from Fiesch to La Punt. Anyone who fell behind in the first two mountain stages definitely has a chance to make it right here. We will see the best mountaineers in action again, but the last kilometers require a lot of courage and sophisticated downhill skills. The last kilometers from the port of Albula to La Punt will be a spectacle.
Stage 6, La Punt-Oberwill-Lieli, 215 km (Friday, June 16)
After the toughest stage, stage six is the longest of this year’s Tour of Switzerland. Right at the start, the riders have to tackle the Albula Pass from the opposite direction from the day before. With the subsequent ascent towards Lenzerheide, the riders have left behind most of the unevenness of this stage. After a phase with flat sections, there are constant ups and downs for the last 50 kilometers or so. Legs that are as fresh as possible and a good position in the field are essential to win the stage. The last 2.4 kilometers to the finish line are uphill and after 216 kilometers of stages only the strongest of the day will be able to fight for victory. I see drivers with explosive acceleration as favourites.
Stage 7, Tuebach-Weinfelden, 184 km (Saturday, June 17)
A final stage follows, which once again focuses on the sprinters. How well the fast-paced men have recovered in recent days will be decisive, however. With a start loop from Tübach along Lake Constance, the stage starts topographically calm. This changes as soon as we travel through the half-cantons of Appenzell Inner-Ausserrhoden. The sprinters have to tackle some short but tough climbs to be in the final sprint in Weinfelden. Another scenario for this stage is that a strong lead group is formed to outwit the sprinter teams.
Stage 8, St. Gallen-Abtwil, 26 km (CRI) (Sunday June 18)
The goal of a tour is for the overall victory decision to remain open for as long as possible. With the final time trial over 25 kilometres, there is definitely an opportunity to correct the classification again. A reason for a change in the general classification could also be the 400 meters of altitude, which could cause greater time differences. The two time trial specialists from eastern Switzerland, Stefan Küng and Stefan Bissegger, could also play a prominent role on this day. Will it be a happy Swiss day? Viewers will definitely get their money’s worth. Because the route passes prominently through the city of St. Gallen and provides a beautiful and dignified backdrop for the final stage of the Tour de Suisse.