The final WorldTour stage race before the Tour de France, the Tour de Suisse (June 12-19) is set to play its usual role this year of being a key dress rehearsal for July. Only this June, maybe even more so than usual.
The absence of two top Tour de France favorites Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) shouldn’t devalue the fact that one of their key rivals last July, podium finisher Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), won the Tour de Suisse outright last year. And after a Critérium du Dauphiné featuring a less star-studded lineup than usual, the Tour de Suisse certainly seems destined to take on even greater relevance when it comes to reading the omens for the Tour de France.
It’s not just about the GC, either. Riders like Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco), Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) and Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) will likely battle for the Tour de France sprints and while Suisse is very hilly this year, it should provide some form pointers .
Seeing how touring targeting riders are likely to be looking towards a building for the Vuelta and España and autumn Classics Like Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) or Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) is also a perennial point of interest of Suisse. Each year, in fact, the Tour de Suisse offers the watershed moment in stage racing between one half of the season and the second, and 2022 is no exception.
Read on for our 9 riders to watch, presented in no particular order, in the 2022 Tour de Suisse.
The absence of teammate and defending champion Richard Carapaz at the Tour of Suisse could see any number of Ineos Grenadiers riders move into the limelight. Tom Pidcock is the best man in the Tour de France, Tom Pidcock is the best question mark at the Tour de France Suisse of the top Ineos names could well concern Geraint Thomas.
This time at Suisse, Thomas is back in the race action following his six week-long training block following the Tour de Romandie. Suisse may be more hilly and slightly less mountainous than other years, but the final weekend’s summit finishes in Liechtenstein, as well as the depth of the competition, are certainly enough to show what his prospects are for July.
Thomas Spilak way back in 2015. Simon Spilak way back in 2015. But he did not have a good track record at the Critérium du Dauphiné back in 2021 augered well for July and how he gets on in Suisse, his equivalent event, this week will be a key indicator once again
He’s not doing the Tour de France, but to judge by the amount of publicity Remco Evenepoel’s debut in the Tour de Suisse will surely generate in Belgium, it’s almost as if he were. Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Norway, only partly explains the colossal interest in the 22-year-old, it’s more that expectations back home are invariably high. No matter what the outcome and the headlines Remco generates this time round, it also interesting contrast.
After a breakthrough triumph for Bora-Hansgrohe in the Giro d’Italia, interest in their rider Switzerland’s other WorldTour stage race, the Tour de Romandie, this year.
From the top of the Bora-Hansgrohe’s stunning and unprecedented (in any Grand Tour) Giro d’Italia success, means that the German squad can follow that up in the Tour de France. Hence we can expect their Tour leader Vlasov to go under the microscope from Suisse onwards.
Suisse, given that the 26-year-old has never done it before. Equally, with a fourth in the 2021 Giro d’Italia as its best Grand Tour GC, out of four participations, the Tour de France will also be something of an unknown. But even voyages in the dark have a point where the ship sets sail and Vlasov’s performance in the Tour will have its first ‘live’ test since the moment he starts racing next Sunday in Switzerland.
Yet another high-profile Tour de France debut this summer and racing on home soil in Switzerland, Mäder’s remarkable progress in Grand Tours last season makes even more keenly regarded by his fans. Mike Woods (Israel-Premier Tech) last year for a stage win. This time round, he’ll be part of a young Bahrain-Victorious team, mainly made up of breakaway specialists. But given his track record and with the Tour de France just around the corner, Mäder will be the most under pressure to deliver.
Javbo-Visma, the former Tour de France stage winners and / or race leaders Sepp Kuss and Rohan at the Tour de Suisse.
While a large proportion of those Jumbo-Visma riders tipped for a Tour was the Critérium du Dauphiné with Roglic, Kuss has always planned to be at the Tour de Suisse, telling Cyclingnews as far back as January “I didn’t feel close to being my best [in the 2021 Tour de France]. So this year I’m doing things a bit different. “
“It has been just training camps and races and training camps and sometimes you do too much.”
The American’s 2021 Tour de France was hardly what you’d call a failure of course, with that stage win in Andorra part of the massively impressive fightback by Jumbo-Visma following Primoz Roglic’s abandon. Yet it is not entirely clear if Kuss will be one of the Jumbo-Visma riders in the Tour, given the depth of the team, and his performance in Suisse could be a gamechanger.
Peter Sagan, the winner of 17 stages in the Swiss race. The 32-year-old Slovakian rider is a remarkable total even for a rider. It’s not an overnight achievement, either: its first win in Suisse, too, dates way back in 2011 to when it was just starting to impact on racing.
However, equally tellingly, Sagan’s last victory from Suisse dates from 2019, when he last took part in the race. And with his last road race now in April 2021, there’s no shortage of rumors that his career seems to be in danger of drifting towards the endgame.
However, it has been here before, up to a point, as Sagan has had other lengths to fall with zero wins, only to come back to the top of his game. Should that happen again in Suisse, in terms of its own career achievements to date, nobody should be surprised. If there’s one race which Sagan has the measure of, it’s clearly Suisse.
The Tour de Suisse hasn’t been on Thibaut Pinot’s schedule now for a full seven years. But back in 2015, when he placed fourth and took a stage win, opting for Suisse rather than the more predictable route for the Critérium du Dauphiné certainly didn’t go too badly for the Groupama-FDJ racer.
The circumstances are rather different, with 2015’s performance coming just after being placed third in the Tour de France the year before. The exceptional result for French cycling at the time, especially when Jean-Christophe Peraud’s second place, and these expectations of how July could be This time round, Suisse is once again Pinot’s final milestone before it heads to France, but its relationship with the Tour took its place in 2020, badly engineered its back, has been far from straightforward since 2015. Either way, his performance in Suisse won’t go unnoticed.
Yet another Tour de France contender who seems to have taken a step forward this season, Martínz triumph in the Itzulia this spring has seen him step up in the Ineos Grenadiers for the first time in a major Tour role. And the Tour de Suisse, where it’s making its debut, but it’s also the point where it has to confirm the legitimacy of its protected rider status for July.
Martínez track record in the Criterium du Dauphiné, of course, where it took an exceptionally fraught version of the race back in 2020, make its performance in the Swiss equivalent even more interesting. He was able to defeat two Bora-Hansgrohe heavyweights of the caliber of Max Schachmann and Lennard Kamna. But this time round, Martínez has even more at stake, both in Switzerland and at the Tour.
Any chance for a duel between two precocious successful riders and the Tour de Suisse offers one of the most interesting of the whole season, as Evenepoel takes on up-and-coming British racer Tom Pidcock.
Pidcock’s form is something of an unknown, especially as the 22-year-old’s last race was in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. But in Switzerland it is a long time running, that it could be better than any opportunity to make its mark and boost its morale prior to the summer.
One of the greatest flies in the ointment is, of course, Evenepoel, a rider with remarkably similar characteristics and who will be equally determined to see one of his peers. Even if the GC contenders opt to stay out of the radar until next Friday’s first major summit finish, then, the fireworks provided these two alone could prove exceptional