[Underneath article was written before the start of the Tour de Suisse and has not been updated]
, time gaps will be opened up in the flat 10 kilometres ITT on the first day of action. But an even more important time trialing event takes place on the penultimate day, when the riders go up and down the Oberalp Pass. The 9.5 kilometres climb at 6.5% and the ensuing descent offer the perfect terrain to deliver a blow on lesser time trialists.
The 2021 Tour de Suisse lacks a trying summit finish. Yes, stage 5 and stage 6 do finish uphill, but in terms of climbing the finales put up a poor show and climbers will not be pleased. To illustrate this point: three years ago, Diego Ulissi sprinted to victory on the finish climb of stage 5, while the finale of stage 6 is a false flat drag rather than a proper climb.
On paper, the final stage is the hardest. The riders traverse the Oberalp Pass, Lukmanier Pass and Gotthard Pass to finish with a drop down to Andermatt. The Gotthard could serve as a launch pad for climbers. It’s a 13 kilometres ascent with an average gradient of 6.8%. Two years ago, the eventual GC winner Egan Bernal soloed to victory at the Gotthard, winning the stage 23 seconds ahead of the first chasers. This time, the first rider at the summit has to continue downhill before the last kilometres of the Tour de Suisse are played out on the flat.
Rui Costa is the only former winner at the start. The Portuguese won the Tour de Suisse in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Favourites Tour de Suisse 2021
**** Julian Alaphilippe, Maximilian Schachmann
*** Jakob Fuglsang, Tom Dumoulin, Richard Carapaz
** Pavel Sivakov, Rohan Dennis, Michael Woods, Wout Poels
* Rigoberto Uran, Esteban Chaves, Rui Costa, Marc Soler