For a long time there had been the Tour de France (since 1902) and the Giro d’Italia (since 1909). Then, to celebrate their 50th anniversary in 1933, the Swiss Cyclists’ and Motorcyclists’ Federation created the Tour de Suisse. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung wrote: “Long gone are the times when cyclists were considered a nuisance on the road.”
Stage locations, prize money (10,000 Swiss francs in total, 2000 for the winner), regulations, race profiles and schedules were required. 5,000 marshals had to be trained. The first Tour attracted half a million spectators to the roadside. 46 of 64 riders crossed the finish line in Zurich. The first winner, Austrian Max Bulla, was a much respected BLICK columnist by the time of the 50th anniversary of the Tour de Suisse in 1986. Bulla annoyed the pros when he wrote after a slow stage: “At this pace I could have easily competed today.”
Paul Egli is the first Swiss to win a stage a year later in Lucerne. In 1937, Karl Litschi becomes the first Swiss overall winner. Ferdy Kübler turns professional in 1940 giving him more time off during active service. giving him more time off during active service. The association takes General Guisan’s directive seriously, according to which life in Switzerland must go on despite the war. Only Swiss professional cyclists take part in the so-called “Little Tour de Suisse”. For them, the tour is extremely important because it offers a good opportunity to earn money in tough times.
In 1942, at the age of 23, Ferdy wins his first of three TdS. In the fourth year of the war, it is almost a “real” Tour de Suisse again, despite food rationing and a lack of racing tyres. Over five days, 1176 kilometres are covered. In 1949, the organisers manage to pull off a coup: the four greats of Fausto Coppi, Gino Bartali, Ferdy Kübler and Hugo Koblet on the start list. Bartali wins with a brilliant performance, as he did the previous year.