PREVIEW | Tour de Suisse 2023 stage 8 - Evenepoel, Ayuso and Skjelmose to fight for race win on hilly time-trial

Preview. A dark Tour de Suisse ends this Sunday, stage 8 will be a decisive time-trial where the overall classification will be decided, on roads where Gino Mäder used to train.

The race ends, as usual, with a time-trial. A meaningful one, as the riders race from St.Gallen to Abtwil with over 25 kilometers in distance. The general classification could end up being decided against the clock as was the case last year, however this is far from a simple effort to pace. The stage will start in Saint Gallen which is just a few kilometers away from Gino Mäder's home town of Flawil, it is expected that the roads of the region will be packed with fans paying a well deserved tribute.

Departure and arrival times (estimated CET):

- June 18 - Stage 8: St.Gallen - Abtwil, 25.7km. From 1:45 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

PREVIEW | Tour de Suisse 2023 stage 8 - Evenepoel, Ayuso and Skjelmose to fight for race win on hilly time-trial
Stage 8 (ITT): St.Gallen - Abtwil, 25.9 kilometers

The first 17 kilometers are quite rolling, with two small climbs, a false-flat descending section before the riders hit what may be the decisive section of the time-trial. It will be on a TT bike that the riders tackle a 1.7-kilometer climb at 7.8%, definitely a place where large seconds can be won or lost. After it's end there is no restbite, for 5 kilometers the road goes uphill, those final 3.3 mostly false-flat.

However when the riders reach the top of the hill with 4 kilometers to the finish they essentially hit the finish line. From there on the route is almost entirely downhill, very fast and without opportunity to make any serious differences. A very open TT, which will be hard to pace.

PREVIEW | Tour de Suisse 2023 stage 8 - Evenepoel, Ayuso and Skjelmose to fight for race win on hilly time-trial

The Weather

PREVIEW | Tour de Suisse 2023 stage 8 - Evenepoel, Ayuso and Skjelmose to fight for race win on hilly time-trial
Map Tour de Suisse 2023 stage 8

The wind will be present, meaningful from the north. Perhaps covered in the first kilometers but it will be felt over the flat section until half of the stage, and then the ascent should have a tailwind.

The Favourites

Remco Evenepoel - Evenepoel's form has been improving throughout the race. Last year he seemed far from his best level here in Suisse but then soared in the TT. Although symbolic, he has indeed won today's stage which is as good of a sign as he could give ahead of this crucial day. He will face competition that is very hard to battle with with the gaps he's got, but the GC will certainly be what will be in his mind.

Stefan Bissegger - Let's be realistic, Bissegger has been far from his best this year, but he is here for a reason. Unlike several of his compatriots including prologue winner Stefan Küng he did not abandon the race, because he wants a win. A friend of the late Mäder, he will want to put on the ride of his life to dedicate it to him. It isn't the day that will suit him best, but I have no doubt he'll give it 110% to make it happen.

Wout van Aert - Out and out van Aert hasn't really proven to be in top form. That isn't necessary, Suisse is after all a preparation race for the Tour and worlds, but referring to the possible victory for tomorrow it won't be easy. His third place in the prologue was a good sign, but against an improving Evenepoel it'll be a hard challenge. Still if anyone can, I believe it will be van Aert.

The stage will see some more riders in contention for a top result, but honestly Evenepoel is looking very strong and I don't realistically see anyone other than the previous two riders possibly beating him. Still the level will be quite high despite the riders who have abandoned... Matteo Sobrero, Kasper Asgreen, Max Schachmann, Mattia Cattaneo and Soren Kragh Andersen will all be in the mix.

Who will win the overall classification?

This is perhaps the most interesting and important question of the day. Before tragedy happened, the overall classification fight in Suisse delivered very exciting spectacle, with several contenders, tables turned, bad days for some, and leading into a time-trial where it's quite open. All in all, racing that is now quite rare at the top level in 2023, which in my eyes was good to see.

It all comes down to the time-trial now. The favourites let Felix Gall soar into a stage win in Leukerbad which earned him also yellow and over a minute, he starts the day in second place 8 seconds behind Mattias Skjelmose, however he will drop out of the podium - the initial prologue was also a sign he may drop out of the Top5.

Skjelmose has 18 seconds on Juan Ayuso who's ridden very well and won a similar TT in Romandie, and 46 on Remco Evenepoel. Skjelmose himself was 6th in the initial prologue and is expected to be among the best. It could be very tight if Evenepoel doesn't pull off one of his Giro-like rides. The gaps are balanced and on paper I wouldn't be surprised to see all three separated by less than 20 seconds in the final GC. I'd say Evenepoel does stand good chances of winning it, but he will need a massive ride as the competition is also of a very high level.

Prediction Tour de Suisse 2023 stage 8:

*** Remco Evenepoel, Wout van Aert
** Stefan Bissegger, Juan Ayuso
* Matteo Sobrero, Kasper Asgreen, Soren Kragh Andersen, Max Schachmann, Mattias Skjelmose

Pick: Remco Evenepoel

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