Fireworks display by Küng, Quintana, Porte and Sagan
Tour leader Richie Porte (BMC, AUS) and Stefan Küng (BMC, SUI), the leader during the first four days, have shaped the race from start to finish with their powerful BMC Racing Team. Michael Schär, the second Swiss rider in the BMC squad, has also played a major role in defending the leader’s jersey against daily attacks with his indomitable spirit, consistent pacing and excellent sense of timing. The fiercest challenge came on the stage to Arosa, where Nairo Quintana (MOV, COL) laid down an inspired ride through the Schanfigg.
This annual meeting of the best riders on the World Pro Tour began on 9 June with the team time trial in Frauenfeld. Stefan Küng had predicted a win and the yellow jersey for his team. Peter Sagan continued the string of self-predicted wins the next day. With this 16th TdS stage triumph, Sagan is the sole record holder for stage wins. On the third day’s stage to Gansingen, Sagan’s efforts came up short. In the home town of Tour Director Olivier Senn, the rock star in the rider’s field found himself sandwiched between eventual winner Sonny Colbrelli (TBM/ITA) and Fernando Gaviria (QST/COL) in the final sprint. The wet and cold stage from the Aargau to the Saanenland at the tour’s halfway point was won on a solo breakaway by the Dane Christopher Juul Jensen (MTS, DAN) to the finish at Gstaad-Saanen Airport. The next stage took riders over the Col du Pillon and Crans to Leukerbad. Diego Ulissi (UAD, ITA) took the windy stage, while Stefan Küng yielded the leader’s jersey to team-mate Richie Porte. The crowning stage of this year’s tour through Furka and Klausen also went to a Dane, Soren Kragh Anderson (SUN). The next stage was Quintana’s demonstration in Arosa. The criterium in Bellinzona on Saturday went to Arnaud Demare (FDJ, FRA). Tour leader Richie Porte went into the final day’s time trial in the Ticinese capital with a commanding lead.
Modern tour with event programme
The event concept of the Tour de Suisse, with a start and finish hub, traditional stages from A to B and an extensive event programme at the stage start and destination locations has proven successful. 1111 participants entered the TdS Challenge, which included a para-cycling event for the first time in Frauenfeld. The TdS Kids World, the EBM Kids Challenge, the TdS Bike Expo, the attractions offered by exhibitors in the Village and the many initiatives of the local organisation teams made for an exhilarating event at every stop between Frauenfeld and Bellinzona.
The enthusiasm along the tour route for this modern stage concept also spread to social media. The TdS Twitter channel had gained over 19,000 followers by the final few days of the race. And even before the final weekend, the cycling channel Velon with its new near-live video service had received a bigger response to Tour de Suisse-related posts than during the entire Giro d’Italia.
TdS 2019: festival of passes and calendar woes
The tour direction hopes to carry the energy from the 2018 edition, which has been a rousing success both on the road and social media, into preparations for the next national tour. Stage planning has already reached an advanced phase. The start hub in Langnau in the Emmental and the destination hub in Goms promise festivals in two bastions of Swiss cycling and endless climbing. The cherry on top of the 83rd running will be a mountain-top finish on the Gotthard Pass, with an ascent up the Tremola.
Less pleasing for Tour Director Olivier Senn was the dates, which were published mid-week: 15 – 23 June 2019. The UCI’s scheduling apparatus has once again denied a request to schedule the Tour de Suisse one week earlier. Olivier Senn: «We’re very disappointed and frustrated. The decision is rather crassly at-odds with the sporting interests of the teams. This year’s starter field demonstrates how popular the TdS is among riders if the dates are suitable.»
The scheduling issue is key not only for sporting reasons but also financial ones, continues Olivier Senn: «The UCI’s refusal to give us better dates naturally limits our possibilities in the sponsoring market. The fact that we didn't receive any explanation says a lot about the political pressure that is exerted on the UCI by the major stakeholders. We will continue to fight for the objectives and rights of the Tour de Suisse.»
83rd Tour de Suisse from 15 to 23 June 2019-
Ueli Anken, Tour de Suisse media service, +41 79 638 18 18, media(at)tds.ch