Here is what will happen (we think) at the Men’s Tour de Suisse
The peloton of stage 9 of the Tour de Suisse 2019.
As the Critérium du Dauphiné rages in France, many other big names are preparing for a battle of their own not so far away. The men’s Tour de Suisse starts Sunday in Frauenfeld.
While the Swiss is often regarded as the second fiddler in the two pre-Tour de France tune-up races, his most recent winner won that year’s Tour (Egan Bernal in 2019). In addition, neither Primoz Roglic nor Tadej Pogacar are racing neither Switzerland nor Dauphiné this year, leveling the rules of the game a little. In their absence, we will have the chance to see Richard Carapaz, Julian Alaphilippe, Mathieu van der Poel and Tom Dumoulin in Switzerland next week.
In other words, there are plenty of reasons to go online. Plus, the race is one of the most scenic on the WorldTour calendar, so you won’t want to miss out on all the alpine views. Here’s what you need to know about the upcoming Men’s Tour de Suisse… plus some bold predictions on what to expect from the race.
A quick overview of the main details
After the kick-off of the inaugural edition of the women’s two-day Tour de Suisse, ranked 2.1, on Saturday, the men’s WorldTour race begins on Sunday. It will take place over eight stages.
The first of these eight days of racing is a flat 10.9 km time trial. The riders will then face three stages with hilly finals before stage 5 defies the hopes of the GC with a late first category climb, then an uncategorized climb to the line. Stage 6 will take the runners to the Gotthardpass and the Lukmanierpass. Stage 7 will again oppose the riders against the stopwatch with a time trial of 23.2 km, but this one goes up and crosses a hill of the first category. The race will end with a difficult stage 8 which includes two first category climbs, then a non-category trip on the Gotthardpass.
Less than two days before the race, we are still working with a provisional start list, but the list of potential candidates for the general classification includes Richard Carapaz, Pavel Sivakov, Tiesj Benoot, Esteban Chaves, Maximilian Schachmann, Jakob Fuglsang, Mike Woods (who did not end up racing the Dauphiné as we had initially thought), Wout Poels, Rigoberto Urán, Mauri Vansevenant and, perhaps, Julian Alaphilippe. The other big names expected are Mathieu van der Poel, Michael Matthews, Marc Hirschi, Tom Dumoulin.
what’s going to happen
With the basics of what you absolutely need to know out of the way, let’s get into some predictions of how things are going to play out this coming week in Switzerland.
Richard Carapaz to finish on the podium, leaving Ineos management with tough decisions to make
I know, I’m only a week away from predicting an Ineos Grenadiers triumph in my latest pre-race analysis – but I’m not going to turn things around just for the sake of changing things. Richard Carapaz is the best GC rider in this race and on top of that, he has every reason in the world to crush him at the Tour de Suisse. I hesitate to definitively say he will win given his lack of results so far in 2021, but he should at least finish on the podium.
For now, it is not clear if the Ineos Grenadiers will support Carapaz, Geraint Thomas, Tao Geoghegan Hart or maybe even Richie Porte in the next Tour de France. Carapaz was excellent at La Vuelta a España last year, but he had a quiet 2021 campaign in terms of results, unlike Thomas and Porte. He needs a big result to prove himself worthy of the leadership, and he has a golden opportunity on this Tour de Suisse. In addition, the time trial in stage 7 goes up and over a first class climb, which should favor it more than a long flat TT. Knowing Carapaz’s potential, he’s my favorite to win the overall title (although I admit I could bet on the pitch if I had the choice).
Whether he wins or not, Carapaz should perform well in the mountains, which will complicate the decision-making before the Tour at Ineos, especially if Thomas, Geoghegan Hart and Porte continue to shine at the Dauphiné.
Max Schachmann to challenge for overall victory but will continue to be underrated
Behind Carapaz, there are several hopes of the general classification that I would place in a second level, with Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) among them. Schachmann has won the last two editions of Paris-Nice and has a host of other good results to his career record. A great climber with a certain explosiveness and a good time trial, he is currently one of the best one-week runners in cycling. Faced with this peloton and with climbs that are longer than too steep climbs on the course, Schachmann seems to be a serious contender for victory in the general classification of the Tour de Suisse. This is the first part of this prediction.
My longer term prediction is that even if he wins it all, he still won’t get all the credit he deserves in articles like this. For starters, the world of cycling tends to overlook the exploits of weeklong specialists and stage hunters who aren’t sprinters, which is a shame. After all, weeklong races and Grand Tour stages that don’t feature major GC action take up the lion’s share of race days on the WorldTour calendar. To be honest, I mostly decided to write this section so I could complain that runners like Schachmann and Ion Izagirre aren’t getting enough credit.
Additionally, the exploits of Schachmann and every other Bora-Hansgrohe runner tend to get overlooked due to the attention paid to Peter Sagan. In any case, that doesn’t mean that Schachmann won’t shine anyway in the weeklong races where he tends to thrive. In short, keep an eye out for the German all-rounder in this race and all the other races he participates in. He deserves it.
Tom Dumoulin will be in good shape despite his long hiatus in the race
The Tour de Suisse will mark the return to competition of Tom Dumoulin after announcing in January that he would take a break from racing. As such, the Jumbo-Visma rider hasn’t raced since October of last year – but I don’t expect him to be so rusty when he returns.
The former world time trial champion and winner of the Giro d’Italia is targeting the Tokyo Olympics in less than two months. He may not have raced in a while, but he’s been training at home, and more and more lately we’ve seen runners thrive in competition without a lot of running buildup. All of this should translate into strong performances on both occasions Dumoulin will have to show his TT skills in Switzerland.
Rohan Dennis and Stefan Küng are both on the Tour de Suisse start list, so Dumoulin will face stiff competition at these stages, but the top 10 looks possible.
Marc Hirschi will remind us why his signing was so important
Marc Hirschi made a major breakthrough last year, winning La Flèche Wallonne and a stage of the Tour and finishing on the podium at the Worlds and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. When he surprisingly transferred from DSM to UAE-Team Emirates after such a big season, it was big news. So far this year, however, he has recorded just one top five, on a single stage of the Tour de Romandie.
The Tour de Suisse, however, will give the Swiss all-rounder a chance (several chances, in fact) to shine on national roads. In particular, stages 2, 3 and 4 are lumpy enough to give Hirschi the opportunity to showcase his hard-hitting skills. Hopefully he makes the most of these opportunities, giving us the chance to see him fight with Julian Alaphilippe, Mathieu van der Poel and Michael Matthews for stage victories in the Tour de Suisse.
Mauri Vansevenant to deliver his first overall top 10 in a WorldTour race
Promising prospect Mauri Vansevenant joined Deceuninck-QuickStep in the middle of the season last year, and he had a good start to 2021, winning the GP Industria & Artigianato and finishing on the podium at Trofeo Laigueglia and placing among the top 10 at the Tour de la Provence and the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali. The Tour de Suisse promises to be a great opportunity for the 22-year-old Belgian to clinch his first top 10 overall in a WorldTour race.
Vansevenant is a solid climber with punch, and has put in a respectable time trial performance in his only individual time trial so far this year in the Basque Country of Itzulia. He finished 11th overall, and the Tour de Suisse peloton is not as strong with neither Primoz Roglic nor Tadej Pogacar present. Keep an eye out for Vansevenant as the road goes up in Switzerland – and it won’t be long now. The Tour de Suisse gets underway in less than 48 hours …