About a week after the end of the first NEW Tour de Suisse Challenge from 06-13 June 2021, we look back on a successful premiere with emotions, experiences and images that will not soon be forgotten.
There are no flat stages in Switzerland
As it should be, the participants start like the pros did in their time trial in Frauenfeld. It is an experience that every ambitious amateur athlete likes to have in his or her books. But this start was by far not the only highlight of the week. After the easy roll-out in Frauenfeld, two flat stages followed, which were anything but flat. More than 2,500 metres of altitude had to be climbed each time. The tough climbs on the second stage and the additional loop around Pfaffnau on the third stage were tough. But the two groups – led by the Road Coaches Sandro Muhl and Lukas Winterberg – harmonised well and all participants always finished before the pros! The weather was not exactly on its best side in the first half of the week. It was wet and stormy. But nothing could stop the participants!
The two support vehicles always shuttled between the two groups and provided food and were ready to help out in case of defects. Already in Schaffhausen and then again in Sursee we were surrounded by professional teams. Suddenly the later Tour winner Richard Carapaz was sitting in the same dining room or the whole team of Bora Hansgrohe signed a jersey of a participant. Pro feeling all day long!
The Alps were the real challenge
After the Challengers had reached the finish of the 4th stage on the airfield in Gstaad, it was clear to everyone: Now it’s time to head for the Alps. After Stefan Bissegger’s victory was celebrated in the pouring rain, the necessary motivation for the tough second half of the week was present in all participants. In addition, in the evening, the world champion Julian Alaphilippe himself was eating his oversized portion of spaghetti at the table next door. At no other event are you as close to the pros as at the NEW Tour de Suisse Challenge!
Stages 5-8 were characterised by high temperatures, partly strong winds and long ascents. But also fabulous views and thrilling stages in the pro race. The climb to Leukerbad was probably one of the hottest of this Tour de Suisse! The bike computers of the participants showed around 38 degrees. The Road Coaches were challenged and made sure that everyone drank enough and ate correctly. The ice bath in the village fountain came in very handy afterwards.
The 6th stage began with a logistical challenge. The bikes, the luggage and all participants had to be brought to the start in Andermatt via the Lötschberg and Furka car transport. After everything went smoothly, the first Alpine passes, the Gotthard and Lukmanier, were conquered. Of course, the participants gladly accepted the devilish support on the ascent to the Lukmanier Pass. Before the queen stage was on the agenda on Sunday, the 7th stage offered an active rest day with the crossing of the Oberalp Pass, which the pros completed as a time trial.
The queen stage. It definitely lived up to its reputation. With around 3,500 metres of altitude difference, three Alpine passes and the headwind in Ticino, it demanded everything from the participants at the end! The final climb up the Tremola road to the Gotthard was already lined with many cycling fans as the Challenger passed through. It was an unforgettable experience to be loudly cheered on as an amateur athlete and to release the last bits of energy. Everyone enjoyed the descent to Andermatt on the Gotthard Pass road, which was already closed. After crossing the finish line, sweaty shirts, happy faces and a backpack full of memories remain.
Together everything is possible
All participants deserve the greatest respect for their outstanding performance. It doesn’t matter whether they completed four or eight stages. Every athlete showed great efforts. It is great that everyone made it without an accident and that we had no major incidents to complain about. A big thank you to the Road Coaches, the entire staff and our partners who made a successful premiere of the NEW Tour de Suisse Challenge possible!
After the Challenge is before the Challenge. The information about the 2022 edition will follow this autumn. Stay tuned! And until then: Happy Cycling!