Climbers, time-trial specialists, sprinters or Classics riders – there’s something for everyone in this year’s men’s Tour de Suisse. The women’s race is wide open too and will appeal to all types of riders thanks to its varied course in eastern Switzerland.
Flat kilometres are a rarity
The distance from Einsiedeln to St. Gallen is just over 55 kilometres as the crow flies. For the field of riders in the 86th Tour de Suisse however it is over 1,100 kilometres with more than 18,000 metres of altitude to traverse between start and finish. “Once again, the Tour de Suisse will be a litmus test for all those who intend to make it through three weeks of the Tour de France in July,” assures Tour Director Olivier Senn.
This year’s opener is an individual time trial in the monastery village of Einsiedeln. The journey continues to the Mittelland, where a hilly circuit between Beromünster and Nottwil will appeal to Classics specialists and sprinters. The first stage into the French-speaking region of Switzerland ends more to the taste of climbers. A tough final uphill to Villars-sur-Ollon awaits. Following the start of stage four in Monthey, the route heads into Valais. Once again it is important to have fresh legs at the very end here. Until the mountain finish in Leukerbad, there are about 1,500 metres of altitude to cover.
With these mountain stages as an appetiser, the main course of this year’s Tour de Suisse will take place on the fifth day. The Queen Stage has 4,700 metres of altitude difference spread over 211 kilometres. “This year, only the strongest climbers will have a say in the overall victory,” says course architect David Loosli. ” The Queen Stage in particular, with the Alpine crossings of Furka, Oberalp and Albula, will demand everything from the riders,” says Loosli.
On the following day, the transfer stage from La Punt to Oberwil-Lieli, the Albula Pass will be ridden from the opposite direction. The final kilometres will also feature a mountain prize and a climbing finish. The concluding weekend of this year’s men’s tour will start with a classic stage from Tübach to Weinfelden. The 160-kilometre-long course passes through the hilly Appenzell region. Finally cyclists will complete another individual time trial of 25-kilometres in the city of St. Gallen. According to David Loosli, this could be a chance for a shake-up in the General Classification. European time trial champion Stefan Bissegger is looking forward to the final weekend in eastern Switzerland: “It is always special to contest the Tour de Suisse in your home region. Looking at the route, I am especially looking forward to the two individual time trials and the beautiful mountain stages”.
Four completely distinct stages for the women
For the field of cyclists in the Tour de Suisse Women, there are again four stages on the programme this year. “With a total of 330 kilometres and over 5,000 metres in altitude, athletes are in for a tough and varied race,” says Olivier Senn. As it is for the men’s competition, the Tour de Suisse Women will also be used by some riders as preparation for the Tour de France Femmes.
The third edition of the Tour de Suisse Women starts with a circuit race in Weinfelden. The 20 kilometre course will be completed four times. Route designer Loosli anticipates a tight contest for the day’s victory. By day two the general classification will really take shape. The time trial course is identical to that of the men. “Personally, I am really looking forward to the long time trial in St. Gallen. The Tour de Suisse Women will definitely be a highlight for me,” says European Time Trial Champion Marlen Reusser.
The third stage from St. Gallen to Ebnat-Kappel heads over some scenic climbs. The Sitzberg and the Ricken are the biggest obstacles for the riders on this day. “If you want to have a say in the fight for the overall victory, you have to ride this stage cleverly and in particular be at the front for the mountain prizes,” predicts David Loosli. On the fourth and final stage, the riders will face about 2,000 metres of altitude difference spread over 100 kilometres. The last dance in the decision for the yellow leader’s jersey leads from Ebnat-Kappel in a larger loop over the Hemberg. Back in Ebnat-Kappel, two final laps will be completed at the foot of the Churfirsten.
“We want to have as large a group of contenders as possible as well as animated races in every stage. That’s why we are deliberately not crossing any major Alpine passes this year,” says Loosli, explaining the route of the Tour de Suisse Women 2023.
Video presentation of the men’s and women’s routes