UAE’s Suisse dominance solidifies Pogacar’s status as Tour de France favourite

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The Tour de Suisse race is a vital indicator for the Tour de France. Alongside the Critérium du Dauphiné, it showcases who is likely to perform well in France. With less than two weeks to go until the Grand Départ in Florence, riders need to be in top form. A bit of sharpness can be added, but lacking stamina here means July will be tough.

This year’s 87th edition of the Swiss race was particularly challenging, especially for sprinters. Unlike previous years, stages were dominated by hills and mountains, with only a short prologue providing an opportunity for the faster riders. Bryan Coquard managed a stage win on day two, but even he and Michael Matthews struggled with the climbs.

UAE Team Emirates Dominated

From stage 4 onwards, UAE Team Emirates put on an impressive display. It’s rare to see two riders from the same team alternately winning stages, but Adam Yates and João Almeida managed this feat. Yates claimed victories on stages 5 and 7, while Almeida took stages 6 and 8. If Torstein Træen hadn’t held on from an early escape atop the Gotthard Pass, Yates would have also added another win to his tally.

Adam Yates’ progression since joining UAE is notable. While at Ineos, he struggled to stand out among their talent. He won Catalunya and the Deutschland Tour, but his four victories in two seasons pale in comparison to his recent successes. He now seems to have surpassed his brother Simon, proving his climbing and concentration abilities have improved significantly.

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Joao Almeida

João Almeida’s Return to Form

João Almeida’s resurgence provided an unexpected but welcome challenge for UAE. Although Yates ultimately outperformed him, Almeida’s aggressive riding and climbing skills have returned to the level he first displayed at Quickstep. His performance suggests he is closing the gap to the top General Classification (GC) contenders.

UAE’s success in the Tour de Suisse, winning the GC, points, king of the mountains, team prize, and the top two podium spots, shows Tadej Pogačar can count on some very solid support for the Tour de France.

Rivals to Watch

Egan Bernal’s performance in the Tour de Suisse indicates he is ready for the Tour de France. Although Carlos Rodriguez will lead Ineos, Bernal’s improvement is significant. Conversely, Tom Pidcock’s 6th place in the GC was slightly underwhelming. His time trial skills remain strong, but he seemed to be at his limit elsewhere. This might be part of his strategy after coming down from altitude training but might show the limits of what is possible for the Brit.

The white jersey competition highlighted rising stars like Mattias Skjelmose. Although not slated for the Tour, he is quickly becoming Lidl-Trek’s stage race leader. Matthew Riccitello of Israel-Premier Tech also made a mark. Finishing between Bernal and Pidcock on the GC, his steady progression suggests he could excel in future races like the Vuelta.

Main photo credit: Sprint Cycling Agency

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