What the Tour de Suisse might tell us about the Tour de France

Could Sagan stun in swansong summer? Is Van Aert on course to crush? Here are some key threads to follow as the Tour-bound peloton rides through Switzerland.

Photo: BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

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The majority of the Tour de Suisse peloton will have an eye toward the Tour de France when it clips in for Switzerland’s opening Einsiedeln time trial.

Starting Sunday, the eight-day romp through the high mountains and green valleys of Switzerland marks an alternative pathway from the Critérium du Dauphiné for top talents looking to tune up for the Tour de France.

And like always, the Tour de Suisse startlist is just as deep as its stage-race rival the Dauphiné.

Wout van Aert, Peter Sagan, Neilson Powless, and Tom Pidcock are just a few headliners choosing Swiss terrain to sharpen their legs for three weeks in France.

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So how might the time trials and mountain finishes of the June 11-18 Tour de Suisse frame the Tour de France?

Let’s take a look:

What will Peter Sagan deliver in his last dance?

Sagan will be suiting up for his last Tour de France next month. (Photo: James Startt/Velo)

Peter Sagan will leave a lasting legacy when he retires from the WorldTour this winter.

And two races that the Slovak megastar has marked most in his 15-year thrill ride through pro cycling are the Tour de Suisse and Tour de France.

Sagan won a stage at each of the last 10 Suisse tours he started and with a total of 18 victories, is one of the race’s most celebrated stage-winners. Even since he reached his zenith at the turn of this century, Sagan was able to rely on Suisse for success in what he made his go-to pre-Tour de France warmup.

And of course, with seven green jerseys, 12 stage wins, and a collection of wheelies, wild celebrations, and controversies, Sagan is – or was – one of the stars of the Tours de France’s modern era.

However, eight top-10 finishes in 28 days of racing with TotalEnergies this year show Sagan isn’t done just yet. Sure, the Sagan of 2018 feels further than five years ago, but the 33-year-old remains on the fringes of the frame in this his swansong season.

Now after his crash-riddled ride this spring through his final Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, Sagan will be looking toward his old maillot vert stomping ground of France for a fairytale ending.

Swiss roads have been kind to Sagan all through his career. A victory in the coming week on the pair of stages that suit the Slovak would be a perfectly timed tip of momentum and dose of fair fortune ahead of his last dance through France three weeks later.


Van Aert dominated on all terrain in his past two Tours de France. (Photo: Getty Images)

Wout van Aert goes pretty well at the Tour de France. His last three Tours served up eight stage wins, a green jersey, and repeat accolades as the “Swiss knife” of the pro peloton. He’s conquered Ventoux, won sprint stages, and steamrollered time trials, all while playing “MVP” for team leaders Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič.

And Jumbo-Visma will be wanting Van Aert to do it all over again this summer as the team eyes a successful Tour de France title defense.

Like always, Van Aert will be a crucial part of his Dutch team’s three weeks, especially since premium workhorse Steven Kruijswijk crashed out of the Critérium du Dauphiné and torpedoed his Tour de France start.

Van Aert asserted he’s not hunting the Tour de France green jersey this year so he can save himself a match to go gold medal hunting with at the Glasgow road worlds. Instead, the 28-year-old plans to dedicate his Tour to Vingegaard’s wheel and will be sniping for only some very select stages.

What version of Wout will we see in Switzerland, and what will it mean for France?

Van Aert has been off-grid and at altitude since he closed his cobblestone campaign crestfallen at disappointments in De Ronde and Paris-Roubaix.

His decision to mix up his typical pre-Tour routine of racing through the Critérium du Dauphiné by making a debut at Tour de Suisse debut offered him extended time at thin air as he rides toward a long summer peak through the Tour de France and August worlds.

Van Aert seems to impress at every race he starts, and he’s likely to do that again in Suisse this coming week. However, Jumbo-Visma staffers might also be timing his best legs for a few weeks further down the line when it rolls out for the team’s yellow jersey defense.

If Van Aert is awesome as ever in Suisse, Tadej Pogačar and any world championship contender will take note.

And if he’s not? It might all be part of the masterplan.

Powless seeking confirmation, the US pack hunting selection

Powless’ momentum has only been upward in the past 12 months. (Photo: Gruber Images/Velo)

U.S. racers Neilson Powless, Quinn Simmons, Magnus Sheffield, and Kevin Vermaerke will race through Switzerland to either confirm, or earn, their Tour de France selections.

For Powless, his return to the Tour de Suisse will serve as a tune-up for what will be his fourth Tour de France. EF Education-EasyPost hasn’t confirmed its Tour eight, but the 26-year-old will be a shoo-in for selection after his emphatic ride through France last summer and barnstormer ride in the northern classics this spring.

Powless’ ambitions for the 2023 Tour de France, whether GC or stages, could be at question however.

He scored a breakout GC result at last year’s Suisse tour when he rode into fourth overall, and backed that up with a stack of stage-racing success this winter.

Powless told Velo this winter he’s not rushing into classification racing at grand tour level, and EF will likely be going all-in with Richard Carapaz. But who knows, a strong ride through Suisse this week might just see Powless spying a shotgun ride alongside his Ecuadorian captain.

And Simmons (Trek-Segafredo), Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers), and Vermaerke (DSM)?

They’ll be chasing selection for the Tour when they race through Suisse. Simmons and Vermaercke both started the Tour de France last summer and will more than likely see the grand départ in Bilbao next month.

Sheffield might have a steeper hill to climb to earn a place at the Tour de France. The 21-year-old suffered a bumpy season so far after his breakout WorldTour debut in 2022, and still hasn’t made his grand tour debut. Ineos Grenadiers will be loading up on three-week thoroughbreds in their mission to take Dani Martínez toward the Tour de France podium and so might not have the space for Sheffield – unless he does something staggering in Suisse.

Remco Evenepoel and the Tour de France question

Evenepoel will be a headliner at Tour de Suisse, but don’t expect to see him headed to the grand départ. (Photo: JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)

Remco Evenepoel might be the man to beat in Suisse this coming week.

The world champion hasn’t raced since he left the Giro d’Italia three weeks ago with COVID-19, but his brush with the virus hasn’t held him back since he got back on the bike. Two 200km training rides in the past week suggest Soudal Quick-Step’s rainbow jersey phenom didn’t lose his legs in his short time away from training.

And with two time trials on tap through the eight-stage Swiss race, Evenepoel will be the top favorite in a relatively light GC pack topped by Romain Bardet, Sergio Higuita, Pello Bilbao, and Juan Ayuso.

If Evenepoel serves up one of his typically blitzing races through Suisse this month, it could prove a double-edged sword.

The obvious positives will be leveled out by a reprisal of the chorus of critics that already questioned why he’s not set to start the Tour de France.

But if Evenepoel does add the ornate Suisse GC trophy to his stage-race palmarès in the coming week, it’s not likely to change much. His whole season had been programmed around the Giro and worlds, and his climber teammates would likewise be put out of whack with a late call-up to the Tour de France.

Instead, it will have to be treated as a nice teaser for the fireworks to come later this summer.


Other riders to watch this week with a view to the Tour de France:

Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), Romain Bardet (DSM), Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious), Mattias Skjelmose (Lidl-Trek), Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe), Biniam Girmay (Intermarché Circus Wanty)

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