Most riders hoping to win the Tour de France may currently be competing across the border in France at the Critérium du Dauphiné, but Switzerland’s primary race has still managed to attract a prestigious field.
Whereas the Dauphiné’s route is designed with the Tour in mind, sometimes even featuring exactly the same roads that will be tackled in July, the organisers for the Tour de Suisse are free to design their own parcours free from considerations of what the major Tour contenders are looking for.
As you’d expect for a race taking place in Switzerland, there are plenty of mountains tackled over the race’s nine-day duration, but this year’s route is notable for the variety of types of stages that the riders will compete in.
As such, plenty of riders planning on riding the Tour but not for the overall have opted to ride the Tour de Suisse ahead of the Dauphiné. The likes of Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) and – if he’s fit – Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Factory Racing) will have been attracted by the race’s short and long time-trials; Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) will attempt to force some of the lumpy, rolling stages into sprints; and world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep) will have his eye on the race’s numerous hilly stages.
Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step) meanwhile should be the fastest finisher lining up, and will hope to get some crucial sprinting practice heading into his return to the Tour.
He’ll have to wait a while though for his first chance to try out his sprinting legs. After a 5km time-trial on day one, the climbing immediately gets under way with two ascents of a category one climb for a finishing loop in stage two, while the last climb on stage three is summited just 3km from the finish.
After one flatter stage that should give Cav and co a chance for a sprint finish, the road again tilts upwards the day after for the queen stage. Two climbs are tackled – first the Bielerhohe, very long (over 30km in total) but gentle in gradient; and then the finish atop Rettenbachferner, the key climb of the race with a vicious gradient of over 10 per cent over a duration of 12km.
Neither stage six nor seven contain any comparably large climbs, but feature the kind of rolling terrain that could lend itself to long breakaways.
The last two stages take place in Bern and provide more opportunities to shake up the GC: first a hilly circuit with a hilltop finish, then a lengthy time trial of 38.4km.
Tour de Suisse 2015: Stages
Stage one, Saturday June 13, Risch-Rotkreuz to Risch-Rotkreuz, 5.1km ITT
Stage two, Sunday June 14, Risch-Rotkreuz to Risch-Rotkreuz, 161km
Stage three, Monday June 15, Quinto to Olivone, 174.5km
Stage four, Tuesday June 16, Flims to Schwarzenbach, 193km
Stage five, Wednesday June 17, Unterterzen to Solden, 237km
Stage six, Thursday June 18, Wil to Biel, 193km
Stage seven, Friday June 19, Biel to Dudingen, 160km
Stage eight, Friday June 20, Bern to Bern, 152.5km
Stage nine, Saturday June 21, Bern to Bern, 38.4km
Tour de Suisse 2015: TV guide
British Eurosport will be covering the race. See our Tour de Suisse TV guide for more details.
Tour de Suisse 2015: Teams
Ag2r La Mondiale
CCC Sprandi Polkowice
Trek Factory Racing
Tour de Suisse: Recent winners
2014 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida
2013 Rui Costa (Por) Movistar
2012 Rui Costa (Por) Movistar
2011 Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack
2010 Frank Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank
2009 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Bank
2008 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas
2007 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Caisse d’Epargne
2006 Koldo Gil (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
2005 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
2004 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile
Tour de Suisse: Last year’s top ten (2014)
1. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida
2. Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling at 0-33
3. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 0-50
4. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 1-13
5. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 2-04
6. Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing at 2-47
7. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale at 3-00
8. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo at 3-03
9. Javier Acevedo (Col) Garmin-Sharp at 3-20
10. Eros Capecchi (Ita) Movistar at 3-46
Video: Secrets of the toolbox – Team Sky