With the 2020 Swiss Epic just a few weeks away, the Elite Men’s field continues to swell with names of the world’s best mountain bikers. The battle on the trails of Graubünden is sure to be fierce as BMC Fischer and BUFF SCOTT are added to the fray.
BMC Fischer’s Casey South and Noah Blöchlinger were the surprise team of the 2019 Swiss Epic. The pair raced to second overall, complete with a stage win on Stage 3. In 2020 the field assembling in Graubünden is arguably stronger than it was last year, but the young pair are not letting that intimidate them.
“Because we were both in good shape, we didn’t see ourselves as an underdog team for the 2019 Swiss Epic” South explained of their performance 24 months ago. “Deciding and setting our goals for the race, over coffee and cake, we had thought that a top five position would be great; and possible. After the first stage we realized that it was very possible and got hungry for more great stages. We took the race day-by-day and always gave our best, spurred on by the results from the day before.”
That stage-by-stage attitude should serve them well in 2020, “We don’t put pressure on ourselves because of our great results last year” South philosophised.
“It’s same, same, but not different this year. Our team will be focused on a good team spirit and the joy of hunting out the big guns on a bike. No pressure, no worries!” laughed the dual Australian/Swiss national.
He and his Swiss teammate Blöchlinger are clearly excited to test themselves against the world’s best. They do not, however, believe that they have much of an advantage, being locally based. “We think that the advantage is not that we are Swiss riders, but great mates on and off the bike” South pointed out. “Our game plan is not to wear out any brake pads during the Swiss Epic. We love the trails and are used to riding fast down them. Very fast.”
Another team that will throw their proverbial hats into the ring is the BUFF SCOTT MTB team. Both Konny Looser and Francesc Guerra have showed in previous editions of the Swiss Epic that they can be forces to be reckoned with. In their debut race as a team for BUFF SCOTT they are among the undoubted favourites for a podium position. Though only time and the trails will tell if they are able to convert their talent and billing into a stellar result, this August.
The disruptions caused by Covid-19 have meant that the pair have yet to race together, as a team in 2020. Having joined the Spanish team ahead of the 2020 season Looser was penned in to race the Absa Cape Epic with Enrique Morcillo Vergara. Since The Untamed African MTB Race’s cancellation all racing was put on hold until July, meaning Looser has yet to really get much of a chance to bond with his Iberian teammates. “We haven’t even raced together yet” the Swiss rider noted.
That should not be a major problem however. “We know each other from some races from the past” Looser reassured. “I know the Swiss Epic very well and I also know the area as well as Francesc [Guerra’s] strengths. He is a really good climber, which is one of the key factors you need to succeed at the Swiss Epic.” “I know Konny is used to compete in Switzerland, with its high-altitude mountains, long climbs and technical descents” Guerra added. “I’m from a town close to Barcelona. It’s situated just 225 metres above sea level and the environment is really different from Graubünden. But I will try to offset this handicap with my skills as a good climber and the help of Konny [Looser], my local guide. We might not have raced together yet, but we have a good relationship off the bike and this is also really important in stage races.”
“The Swiss Epic has provided some of the best trails I have ever ridden” Guerra praised. “Like I said before, I live in an area which simply just cannot offer that type of riding. But it’s not just the trails that bring us back to Graubünden. It is also the chance to compete against many of the best XCM and XCO riders in the world. That is really a big motivation for entering. I know how hard this race is; but as long as I can, I will be on the start line, willing to suffer and enjoy the real mountain biking on offer in the Swiss Epic.”
Both Looser and Guerra have come close to victory at the Swiss Epic before. They are highly motivated to put in a stellar performance in 2020, “I always think about winning, but after finishing fourth twice before, in 2017 and 2018, and taking into account the number of top riders who will be on the start line this year, the realistic goal would be to aim for the final podium” Guerra speculated. “Nevertheless, in racing anything can happen so now my main goal is to arrive in Laax in the best shape possible. From there the focus will be on putting good performances on every stage, with Konny.”
To follow how BMC Fischer and BUFF SCOTT perform during the 2020 Swiss Epic visit our website. The race takes place from the 18th to the 22nd of August. Mountain biking fans can watch the action live on the race website, which will feature racing updates on social media as well as daily stories, videos and photo galleries.