The first Tour de Suisse Women is imminent. With a view to the weekend, we spoke to women’s national trainer Edi Telser about women’s cycling in Switzerland and his expectations of the race.
What does the TdSW mean for the development of women’s cycling in Switzerland?
It is definitely an important step in the right direction. Even if it’s “only” two days, we can certainly set an example and arouse the general public’s interest in women’s cycling. Thanks to the broadcast on Swiss television, it is now very easy to follow the races, which also increases awareness. With a view to the 2024 World Championships in Zurich, the media interest for the TdSW is a great opportunity.
Do you think that other tours will follow suit and also run women’s editions?
That depends on how the situation in women’s cycling develops. There are races for women on all three Grand Tour tours, but they don’t last as long as for men. I don’t have the feeling that there will be a three-week Grand Tour for women in the next few years. Organizationally and financially, it is very difficult for the organizers to hold the men’s and women’s races in parallel. Therefore, it could be an opportunity for the somewhat smaller tours like the Tour de Suisse to establish themselves as women’s tours in the long term.
The TdSW is an important step for women’s cycling in Switzerland. What else could advance the development?
In recent years we have had more young riders than ever before. So there is demand for and interest in races, only the races are missing. Therefore, a national racing series on the road would be very helpful to promote women’s road cycling even further.
Swiss Cycling launched the #fastandfemaleSUI funding project a year and a half ago. Is it possible to find talented career changers like Marlen Reusser and Elise Chabbey in this way?
The past has shown that it is definitely possible to find talented career changers through the #fastandfemaleSUI campaign. Unfortunately, such cases are more of the exception, and therefore you cannot only rely on the funded project.
How do you see the roles of the Swiss Cycling Team and the BeCycling regional team in the Tour de Suisse Women?
When big teams like Trek-Segafredo and Canyon Sram are at the start, these teams will definitely set the tone. However, I think that the female mountain bikers will get over the mountains well. In addition, we have strong sprinters in both teams for the flat stage on Sunday. There are a few young riders in the BeCycling regional team. For them it will primarily be about gaining experience.
How do you see the possibility of combining two disciplines, in this case MTB and road?
A long-term combination is difficult in my opinion. It is of course becoming more and more popular, and role models such as Mathieu van der Poel and Tom Pidcock show that it is possible. More and more athletes are striving for two-pronged contracts with their teams. Above all, it is important that the young athletes combine several cycling disciplines. So that you have a choice later and can decide on the discipline for which you have the best qualifications. That is why we at Swiss Cycling train the next generation polycyclid.