Preview: Tour de Suisse Women 2024

The fourth edition of the revamped Tour de Suisse takes place immediately following the men’s race once again this year, and marks the second year that the race has been secured Women’s World Tour status. The race was inaugurated in 1998 and saw four editions before a lengthy break. It returned to the schedule in 2021 and was lengthened to four stages in the following year.

A race designed with the pure climbers in mind, those with fast finishes will be daunted by the dramatic profiles and unforgiving gradients on offer over the four varied stages of the race. Those who are up for the challenge will be rewarded with stunning scenery, beautiful, well-kept roads and the opportunity to test their legs ahead of the next major challenge on the calendar: the Giro d’Italia Women.

The race takes place from Saturday 15th to Tuesday 18th June.

 

The Route

Stage 1 – Villars-sur-Ollon – Villars-sur-Ollon (58.6km)

Beginning in the heart of the Vaud Alps, stage 1 of the 2024 Tour de Suisse Women is a short but gruelling affair, suggested by the race organisers as perhaps the Queen Stage of the race, given the dramatic nature of its profile, which features almost no flat kilometres and packs in an intimidating 1,529m of altitude.

Taking a circular route into the mountains from the start and finish town of Villars-sur-Ollon, the riders will have no time to ease gradually into the race, as right away they find themselves climbing. The category 2 Col de la Croix may only begin 7.7km into the race but it’s uphill all the way to the foot of the climb, which is 3.8km in length at an average pitch of 8.9%. Expect the race to spread out all over the road from the off.

Almost 30km of descending may see the peloton come back together after that, in time for an intermediate sprint, before the finale of the stage – a category 1 climb back up to Villars-sur-Ollon. 7.3km of ascent at 8.2% average, and beginning with a kilometre ramp at 11.4%, the GC will be shuffled into order as the best climbers fight for the stage win, at the finish line which comes just after the official summit of the climb.

 

Stage 2 – Aigle / Centre Mondial du Cyclisme UCI – Villars-sur-Ollon (15.7km, ITT)

It wouldn’t be the Tour de Suisse without a time trial, and this one may be relatively short, but once again it favours the mountain goats of the bunch, with a staggering 865m of climbing – in fact, 10.5km of the time trial takes place uphill.

Beginning at the UCI headquarters in Aigle, the first third of the course takes place over flat roads, before the climbing begins in earnest. Those who are able to maintain their consistency and form despite the challenging gradient will have the chance to consolidate or improve their position in the overall standings, which will once again be shuffled following the second stage.

 

Stage 3 – Vevey – Champagne (125.6km)

Beginning on the shores of Lake Geneva and heading north to Lake Neuchâtel, stage 3 is the tougher of two final hilly stages, both of which are similar in distance and offer an undulating profile which could lead to unpredictable and attacking racing.

After two challenging days, the early stages may be somewhat more cagey, and offer the first opportunity for a strong breakaway to really establish itself free of the main GC favourites. With four categorised climbs on the menu tallying almost 2,000m of altitude gain and barely any flat, there’s little opportunity for respite however, and as the bunch heads towards the stunning town of Champagne they will take on a final lap which includes the toughest climbing challenge of the day – the category 2 Vaugondry. 4.3km in length, and with an average gradient of 6.7%, the proximity to the finish line will offer a strong incentive for any rider with the legs to attack on the final climb. From the summit, 13km remain to the finish line, and it may prove to be too great a challenge for any riders dropped to catch the race leaders.

 

Stage 4 – Champagne – Champagne (127.5km)

The longest stage of the race also features the most vertical ascent at 2,124m, but with the majority of that ascent featuring in the first half of the profile, there’s the possibility that any hardy sprinters who have made it this far might get their first chance to fight for victory.

Travelling on a circular route out of Champagne and north-east, the first category 2 challenge will give breakaway hopefuls their final chance to gain an advantage, before an uncategorised climb leads to a lengthy plateau, where the bunch may have to be alert to crosswinds. From there, a second category 2 ascent is the final challenge of the race, and with 45km still remaining to the finish line, there will be plenty of time for any riders who feel they have something left to offer to make an impact.

The final 30km of the day take place along the banks of Lake Neuchâtel which will provide a stunning backdrop to what looks set to be a thrilling finish to the race, with the outcome completely dependent on what type of stage plays out – will the teams of sprinters try to control, will a breakaway win the day, or will the GC riders battle to take the overall race victory right down to the wire?

 

Riders to Watch

Arriving at the race with the in-form GC rider of the peloton in Demi Vollering, and the reigning champion and home talent Marlen Reusser, Team SD Worx-ProTime will undoubtedly be hot favourites to take the overall victory, and likely most of the stages too. With Vollering’s prowess in the mountains and Reusser’s supreme time trialling ability, the other teams will be hard-pushed to overturn the world’s top team.

Looking to do just that will be Canyon//SRAM Racing. Renowned for their strong all-round squads, Kasia Niewiadoma, Neve Bradbury, Antonia Niedermayer and domestic talent Elise Chabbey will all be hoping to show their strength and surprise the dominant Dutch side.

Lidl-Trek have proven worthy adversaries to SD Worx all season, and with Italian champion Elisa Longo Borghini back at the helm, pure climber Gaia Realini as a second leadership option, and a strong supporting team around them, the outcome is far from guaranteed for SD Worx, who will have to be wary of arguably their closest rivals.

It’s been a remarkable season for EF Education-Cannondale so far in 2024, and with Vuelta Femenina stage winner Kristen Faulkner and serial breakaway artist Kim Cadzow among their number, they will not make life easy for the top favourites. FDJ-SUEZ will also be hoping to push the top teams all the way. Marta Cavalli is still hoping to hit her best form and will be looking to test herself ahead of the Giro d’Italia, and Jade Wiel has been animated in recent races. Team dsm-firmenich PostNL will be aiming for victory with British champion Pfeiffer Georgi and Franziska Koch, both of whom recently shone at the Tour of Britain Women.

Teams looking for stage victories will include Visma-Lease A Bike, who bring Marianne Vos, Fem van Empel, and a range of other talent who could all achieve big results depending on the stage. The aggressive racing of Fenix-Deceuninck has stood out all season, and with animators like Yara Kastelijn and Karina Schrempf they are likely to light up every stage. Ingvild Gåskjenn and Urška Žigart of Liv-Jayco-AlUla are both ones to watch, as is Erica Magnaldi of UAE Team ADQ.

In terms of outsiders, young Dutch rider Eline Janssen proved she could stick with the big names at the recent Tour of Britain Women, and will hope she can back up the promise she showed by winning the white jersey at that race. Marion Bunel and Victorie Guilman have showed flashes of quality for St Michel-Mavic-Auber-93 this season, and Roland’s local talent Elena Hartmann and time trial specialist Anna Kiesenhofer will be keen to record some good results.

 

Riders to watch (GC)

5-stars Demi Vollering

4-stars Elisa Longo Borghini, Marlen Reusser, Kasia Niewiadoma

3-stars Kristen Faulkner, Gaia Realini, Neve Bradbury

2-stars Marta Cavalli, Pfeiffer Georgi

1-star Eline Janssen, Yara Kastelijn, Fem van Empel

 

Summary

When – Saturday 15-Tuesday 18 June

Where – Switzerland

What – 4-day stage race

TV Coverage: Eurosport, Discovery+

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