After a short break of a couple of weeks following a succession of races in Spain, the Women’s World Tour returns with the third edition of the updated Tour de Suisse.
Taking place in the north-east region of the country over four varied stages, the race enjoys WWT status for the first time, and boasts a stacked start list, featuring 11 of the 15 WWT teams and in-form riders such as Demi Vollering and Gaia Realini, who will hope to keep up Trek-Segafredo’s winning streak at the race. The American outfit have won both of the last two editions of the race, with Lizzie Deignan taking home the yellow jersey in 2021 and Lucinda Brand following suit in 2022.
The race takes place from Saturday 17th June to Tuesday 20th June.
Stage 1 – Saturday 17th June – Weinfelden – Weinfelden (56km)
It’s an explosive start to the four-day stage race, as the women must tackle three circuits of a punchy course around the town of Weinfelden, in the heart of Swiss wine country. Each lap begins with an ascent of the Burgstrasse, a short, punchy climb rather generously listed as category 3 – it’s just 600m in length with an average gradient of 6.4%, and shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for the faster women, though with the first ascent coming just under 3km into the stage, it promises to be full gas racing from the flag drop.
After that, the circuit, which comes in at just under 20km, will be repeated three times, with an intermediate sprint on each passage of Oberdorfstrasse, and a downhill drag to the line which may see the race come back together for a sprint finish.
At 56km in total, it promises to be fast and furious and one not to miss.
Stage 2 – Sunday 18th June – St. Gallen – Abtwil (26km)
Beginning in the beautiful city of St. Gallen, which has UNESCO World Heritage status for its abbey, the women will take on a relatively long time trial, in a day which will shape the general classification going into the second half of the race.
Travelling north, then east, the route turns south once more and arrives in the neighbouring municipality of Abtwil. The profile is gently rolling, with an altitude gain of around 200m in the final third of the distance.
Time trial specialists will enjoy the opportunity to put time into their rivals, and vie for the stage win, while the GC hopefuls will hope to ensure they do not lose too much timS heading into the final two stages.
Stage 3 – Monday 19th June – St. Gallen – Ebnat-Kappel (124km)
A second opportunity to enjoy the charms of St. Gallen, stage 3 begins in the city once again but this time heads south and east, passing close to Lake Obersee as it heads to another prominent landmark of this year’s race, the double village of Ebnat-Kappel.
With an undulating profile there will be plenty of opportunity for attacks, although the categorised climbing doesn’t begin until just over halfway through the day, with a category 1 climb at 55km to go. The Sitzburg is a 5km ascent at an average gradient of 4.9%, and is followed shortly afterwards by an intermediate sprint in Lenzen with bonus seconds on offer.
The final challenge of the day is a category 2 climb. The Rapperswillerstrasse covers a distance of 6.5km at 4.2%, and with just 10km remaining from its summit to the finish line, it should encourage a number of late attacks and an unpredictable finale.
Stage 4 – Tuesday 20th June – Ebnat-Kappel – Ebnat-Kappel (101km)
A day of ups and downs beginning and ending in Ebnat-Kappel will decide the winner of the 2023 Tour de Suisse. Travelling north from the village in a loop around the area, the women will have to contend with the category 1 Winterbergstrasse after around 63km of racing, before heading back to Ebnat-Kappel for three laps of a circuit featuring three ascents of the category 2 Schorütistrasse and punctuated by two intermediate sprints.
After the final time tackling the climb, the riders will battle all the way to the finish line in Ebnat-Kappel, with the overall victor awarded the final leader’s yellow jersey.
With four varied stages and very little in the way of flat roads, this race has the potential to go right down to the wire.
Riders to Watch
In a race where they have a 100% winning record, Trek-Segafredo will be intent on maintaining that form, and they bring a stacked team with three possible leaders in Elisa Longo Borghini, Gaia Realini and Lizzie Deignan. They have strong support in the shape of Brodie Chapman, who rides her first race after returning from injury earlier in the season, alongside Lauretta Hansen and Amanda Spratt.
It’s arguably the strongest roster that’s lined up at a race so far this season that hasn’t been SD Worx. With their strength in depth, Trek will hope to challenge the monopoly that the Dutch team have threatened, having won every stage and the GC in the last three stage races in which they have participated. The peerless Demi Vollering will once again lead the team, with Marlen Reusser another threat particularly given the lengthy time trial component.
Canyon//SRAM lead with Katia Niewiadoma and Ricarda Bauernfind, and with depth on their roster they will hope to add some wins in a season that has yielded little so far.
In the absence of Van Vleuten, Movistar will rely on Liane Lippert to deliver results, but without some of the stronger support riders in the squad, much will depend on her form.
Team Jayco-AlUla will likely be led by Ruby Roseman-Gannon, who performed well at the recent Lotto Thuringen Tour, coming second in the ITT and fourth overall – she will be one for the bigger teams to keep an eye on. Other outside hopes for GC include Team DSM’s Juliette Labous, Israel-Premier Tech’s Claire Steels and UAE Team ADQ’s Eleonora Gasparrini.
Top 3 Underdogs
Here are a few less obvious names to look out for at this year’s Tour de Suisse.
- Marthe Truyen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) has had a breakout season so far, coming third in Paris-Nice and winning the Antwerp Port Epic just two weeks ago. She may be a dark horse in a breakaway, particularly on an unpredictable and explosive stage 1.
- Arkéa Pro Cycling Team’s Megan Armitage has been quietly amassing top ten results this season with success both against the clock and in the mountains – the Irish woman will hope to stay the course against the big guns and produce another solid performance in Switzerland.
- The German Clara Koppenburg (Cofidis) has had a solid season, coming second in the reVolta one-day race earlier in the season, and finishing in the top ten on stage 4 of the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas. Look out for her in the final two hillier stages.
Riders to watch (GC)
5-stars Demi Vollering
4-stars Elisa Longo Borghini
3-stars Marlen Reusser
2-stars Gaia Realini
1-star Lizzie Deignan
When – Saturday 17 – Tuesday 20 June
Where – Switzerland
What – 4-day stage race
‘Watch the Femmes’ TV Coverage: Eurosport, GCN
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