After five days, 344km, and 12,000 meters of climbing, the Grand Finale of the 2019 Swiss Epic brought laughs, tears, exhaustion and relief to the hundreds of teams who crossed the finish line in Davos on Saturday, 24 August.
Kicking off in beautiful conditions with clear skies, mild temperatures and no wind in Lenzerheide, riders made their way back to Davos along the 64km route. Stage 5 was one of the most scenic of the race with riders taking on pristine singletrack through the forest at the foot of the Lenzerhorn and through the high alpine valley to the historic Landwasser Viaduct. Thanks to the 2,300m of ascent, spectacular vistas were at the order of the day and no-one would have found it surprising if riders stopped to take it all in, especially along the “Zügenweg” – a mountain pass that feels like a ride on top of the world. Rocky landscapes and wild turquoise mountain rivers lead riders to Äbirugg before heading to the finish line along the flowing single trail into Sertig Valley and back into Davos.
A monumental achievement by any stretch of the imagination, the Swiss Epic is made to challenge and inspire along its five days of racing. For a select group of riders, the finish line in Davos this year would also mark their induction into an exclusive club of riders who have achieved “Epic Legend” status. Twelve riders who have conquered both the Absa Cape Epic in South Africa and the Pioneer in New Zealand became Epic Legends in Davos by finishing the remaining Epic Legends race – the Swiss Epic.
Portuguese duo, Jorge Damas and Paulo Moura of Team Europcar, were two of the twelve hopefuls who celebrated their Epic Legend status in Davos today.
“It’s an honour, we think it’s an achievement but to be frank we enjoyed it all the way, the Cape Epic, the Pioneer, and now the Swiss Epic – it was pure pleasure for us” a proud Paulo said on the finish line after receiving his Epic Legend medal. “We didn’t do this [the Swiss Epic] just to become Epic Legends though. We love mountain biking, we love to do stage races so we want to do it all! It was a fantastic one” he added.
“These are beautiful trails, very good views, fantastic people, great food, fantastic organisation, this race has everything good to enjoy and it’s so fun,” said Jorge. “It’s perfect,” echoed Paulo.
Looking back at the week’s racing, Jorge lauded his teammate revealing that Paulo had been struggling with knee problems the whole way through. “He had a very serious problem with his knee so he rode all the first stages in pain, so he’s a legend,” Jorge said of his teammate, their strong friendship and spirit clearly helping them along their journey over the past week.
And first up after this massive finish? “First we want to eat lousy food like burgers and schnitzel and drink beer and then Monday it’s back to office,” said Paulo. “And Thursday back on the bike!” Jorge laughed.
Another team celebrating their Epic Legend status this year is South African team, Wylie and Wille, made up of Gavin Wille and Craig Wylie, who like their fellow riders Paulo and Jorge, were competing in the Grand Masters category at the 2019 Swiss Epic.
Celebrating his finish an exhausted but proud Gavin recounted the week’s experience. “It wasn’t an easy week, I thought it was going to be much easier and it was a very rough week for us. I’m not built for climbing.” said Gavin.
Luckily, the climbs were well rewarded with memorable moments and views. “I can say Switzerland has been absolutely awesome,” said Craig. “It’s been brilliant having this race here just the whole landscape and everything is just unbelievable, it was beautiful,” he added.
After receiving their Epic Legend status, there must be some rest and recovery on the cards for the team. “Oh yes, we’re done now” said Gavin with Craig quickly adding his thoughts “Now we can retire”. “We’re old enough to retire!” Gavin said eliciting a belly laugh from Craig as the team look forward to a beer and a well-deserved rest.
As the 2019 Swiss Epic draws to a close, sights are set on the 2020 race as the course heads to brand new towns for a five-day adventure of pure mountain biking heaven in Graübunden as riders will journey between Laax, Arosa and Davos. General entries for the 2020 Swiss Epic opens on 9 September 2019 at 4pm CET. Sign up to be notified when general registration opens and read more on www.swiss-epic.com/event/2020-race.