Though most of the primary favourites for the Tour de France are building their form at Critérium de Dauphiné, the roads of Switzerland will over the week also play host to a peloton looking ahead to July in France.
Many will be fine-tuning their preparations for the Tour and therefore hold back on unleashing their best form, while others whose participation is not yet certain will look to be more visible and impress their managers and director sportifs.
The Tour de Suisse is often overlooked as the Dauphiné’s poorer cousin, but always manages to attract an impressive cast of riders, contain a well-balanced route and travel across the beautiful Swiss scenery.
As usual the race will begin with a short individual time trial. However, for the first time since 2009 the opener will not take place in the city of Lugano, but further north in Quinto. At only 8.1 kilometres this relatively flat time trial will cause only minor time gaps between the riders, but expect these to be much larger in Sunday’s mountainous stage that finishes atop the category one Crans-Montana.
A transfer sees the peloton begin stage three from Montreux, located by the picturesque Lake Geneva, before heading inland towards Meiringen. A category one climb is situated less than twenty kilometres before the finish, which, as well as its descent, is likely to encourage attacks.
A couple of hilly though non-decisive stages follow as the peloton makes it way north, leading up to Friday’s longest and most mountainous stage to La Punt. Category three, one and four climbs consecutively punctuate the route, wearing the riders’ legs down before the final, most difficult hors category climb, the Albulapass. A short descent from the summit to the finish ensures an exciting finale.
The penultimate stage features the category one Julierpass situated early enough to launch the break of the day, and the category three Luzisteig just six kilometres out could encourage last ditch attacks.
The riders may however prefer to wait until Sunday’s final time trial from Bad Ragaz to Flumserberg, the 26.8 kilometre course of which is long enough to have a pivotal impact on the final classification.
Tour de Suisse 2013: Stages
Stage one, Saturday June 8, Quinto to Quinto, 8.1km ITT
Stage two, Sunday June 9, Quinto to Crans-Montana, 161km
Stage three, Monday June 10, Montreux to Meiringen, 203km
Stage four, Tuesday June 11, Innertkirchen to Buochs, 161km
Stage five, Wednesday June 12, Buochs to Leuggern, 176km
Stage six, Thursday June 13, Leuggern to Meilen, 186km
Stage seven, Friday June 14, Meilen to La Punt, 206km
Stage eight, Saturday June 15, Zernez to Bad Ragaz, 181km
Stage nine, Sunday June 16, Bad Ragaz to Flumserberg, 26.8km ITT
Tour de Suisse 2013: British riders
David Millar (Garmin-Sharp)
Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Sky)
Luke Rowe (Sky)
Ben Swift (Sky)
Josh Edmondson (Sky)
Tour de Suisse 2013: Teams
Ag2r La Mondiale (France)
IAM Cycling (Switzerland)
Lotto Belisol (Belgium)
Omega Pharma-QuickStep (Belgium)
Sky (Great Britain)
Tour de Suisse 2013: Recent Winners
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
2003 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Telekom
Tour de Suisse: Last year’s top ten (2012)
1. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar in 35-54-39
2. Frank Schleck (Lux) RadioShack-Nissan at 14 secs
3. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 21 secs
4. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank at 25 secs
5. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 40 secs
6. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana at 47 secs
7. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Barracuda at 48 secs
8. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank at 59 secs
9. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 1-42
10. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2r La Mondiale at 1-52
Costa wins 2012 Tour de Suisse