Tour de Suisse 2013 – five observations

The Tour de Suisse is the second of two races traditionally used as final form finders for the Tour de France.

The 2013 edition brought a successful title defence for Rui Costa (Movistar), still more stage wins for Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling), and another show of defiance from the peloton’s most popular rider, Jens Voight (RadioShack-Leopard).

The Tour de Suisse provided another gruelling challenge for the WorldTour peloton

But there were other, less immediate observations to made: Blanco Pro Cycling’s Bauke Mollema’s impressive consistency led him closer to an elusive overall victory; and rising star, Tanel Kangert (Astana), continued to rise.

Here are five observations on the 2013 Tour de Suisse.

Costa eureka

Twelve months ago, Rui Costa was effusive in his praise for team leader Alejandro Valverde, thanking him for his gracious assistance in securing the then-biggest victory of his career. Twelve months later, and having outperformed ‘Valve’ at the Tour de Romandie, Costa defended his title in Switzerland largely by his own efforts.

Is Rui Costa now the strongest rider in the Movistar squad?

On stage three he finished second to Sagan, but having gained significant time on Mollema, van Garderen et al, by breaking clear with three others on the descent into Meiringen.

Stage seven placed him head-to-head with the Dutchman and the American and again he emerged triumphant. On the final stage, with the chips down and Mathias Frank (BMC Racing) still in yellow, Costa destroyed his Swiss rival in the race of truth to win the final stage time trial and, with it, the title.

Valverde is likely to lead a Movistar team bursting with talent at the Tour, one suspects, but Costa’s time may be now.

Ageless Jens

Jens Voigt would have doubtless been urging his legs to ‘shut up’ as he homed in on what looked like a memorable victory on the road to Buochs.

The veteran went clear on stage three with Euskaltel-Euskadi’s Robert Vrecer and Lotto Beliol’s Olivier Kaisen – riders ten years younger and more.

Jens Voigt rolled back the years at the 2013 Tour de Suisse

Kaisen was despatched by Vrecer and Voigt, and then The Jensie, tiring of Vrecer’s company, cleared off.

With two kilometres remaining, a legion of fans dared to hope. Could Voigt, in the mix on stage 12 of last year’s Tour, and winner of stage five in the Tour of California, pull off victory in a WorldTour event at 41?

Alas not. The genial German succumbed to a far from sentimental pursuit by Cannondale Pro Cycling and Omega Pharma-QuickStep.

With Fabian Cancellara and Chris Horner ruling themselves out of the Tour de France, and Andy Schleck anonymous at the Tour de Suisse, could Voigt find his way onto the start line in Corsica? Thousands will hope so.

Peter the Great

Peter Alekseyevich Romanov never conquered Switzerland, but given his current rate of progress, its perhaps not entirely unfeasible that Peter Sagan will one day claim overall victory at the Tour de Suisse. His stage wins there are many and varied. A prologue time trial win last year, victory on a mountainous stage three this year, and of course, numerous sprint triumphs.

Peter Sagan brought an army for his assault on Switzerland

Sagan has claimed eight victories in the Tour de Suisse so far and at 23 is surely just getting into his stride. This year he was accompanied by a private army – and we’re not talking about Caruso, Moser, Borghini et al. The green top-hatted legion who lined the roadside with their Sagan standards – huge flags emblazoned with pictures of their glorious leader – were reminiscent of the Tsar’s finest.

Will Peto show true greatness by adding an overall victory to a palmares bursting with stage wins? Mark Cavendish has the Tour of Qatar and Ster ZLM Tour to point to; Andre Greipel, the Tour Down Under – twice. Victory at the Tour de Suisse would be of a greater magnitude. Don’t bet against it.

Bauke the consistent

Bauke Mollema (Blanco Pro Cycling) is only 26 but is riding his seventh year as a professional and with his usual, remarkable consistency. Costa may be a step ahead of the Dutchman in realising his potential, but by finishing second overall in the Tour de Suisse, after winning stage two, Mollema is not far behind.

Bauke Mollema won on the signature climb of the Tour de Suisse and finished second overall. He has yet to finish outside the top 10 of any race he’s contested this season

Mollema has yet to finish outside of the top 10 in any of the eight races he’s started this year, and has finished in the top five in five of them. His podium in Switzerland is the most prestigious result so far. By winning at the summit of the signature climb of the race, and finishing a creditable third on the final stage time trial, Mollema has shown the precise qualities required of a stage race winner. It will surely be only a matter of time.

Kan do

Tanel Kangert (Astana) delivered a quietly impressive campaign at the Giro d’Italia, and has done so again at the Tour de Suisse.

Tanel Kangert reacquainted himself with gruelling, snow-covered climbs at the Tour de Suisse

At 26, still relatively young, and with his chances of victory (rightly) limited by service to the more experienced and accomplished Vincenzo Nibali, the Estonian champion still produced performances to be proud of at the Giro, contesting the stage victory on 16, and leading Nibali to the point where the maglia rosa could launch his race-clinching attack on the snow covered slopes of Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

He continued his good form in Switzerland, placing himself in the top 10 on GC after a strong performance on stage three, and remaining there for the remainder of the race, moving from eighth to sixth in the final reckoning by finishing second to Costa in the race-closing time trial.

Kangert has not been named on Astana’s long-list for the Tour, and after riding the Giro and the Tour de Suisse, is likely to be relieved. A place in the 101st edition, however, should not be beyond him.

Timing is everything

The Tour de Suisse is pretty but needed more than scenery to attract the biggest names in the peloton

The Tour de Suisse’s proximity to the Criterium de Dauphine did the Swiss race no favours this year. With all the major contenders for the Tour de France, unsurprisingly, choosing to make their final preparation on French roads, the Tour de Suisse was left with fringe contenders, super domestiques, and the not inconsiderable consolation of Peter Sagan. Perhaps the organisers will look again at the schedule next year.

Discuss in the forum

Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.