The 2020 Swiss Epic is set to start in Laax tomorrow; Tuesday, 18 August. Now in its seventh edition, the race covers 320 scintillating alpine kilometres through Graubünden. It also boasts its best ever elite field, spearheaded by multiple World Champion – Nino Schurter – and the Queen of mountain bike stage racing – Annika Langvad.
The action starts in Laax, before racing down the Rhine Gorge to Arosa and ascending the Durana Pass to Davos. Between each of the transition stages, when the race starts and finishes in different race villages, there are out and back loops. These explore the amazing trails around Laax, Arosa and Davos in greater detail; providing a truly memorable riding experience. All told, the 2020 Swiss Epic will challenge teams to conquer 12 250 accumulated metres of climbing while rewarding them with 11 850 metres of descending, over the five days and 320 kilometres.
Schurter, as mentioned, headlines an impressive Elite men’s field. He will be lining up alongside his 2019 Absa Cape Epic winning teammate, Lars Forster, for the race through his home canton. The SCOTT-SRAM team’s fiercest competition is likely to be the Trek Pirelli teams of Fabian Rabensteiner and Samuele Porro, as well as Michele Casagrande and Gioele de Cosmo.
Other noteworthy rivals for Schurter and Forster include Specialized Racing’s Jaroslav Kulhavý and Simon Andreassen, Centurion Vaude’s Daniel Geismayr and Ben Zwiehoff, and the Future Cycling Northwave team of Kristian Hynek and Martin Stoseck. Team BULLS cannot be discounted as they return to the race for the first time since 2014. Urs Huber and Simon Stiebjahn make up the favoured BULLS Heroes squad, while Karl Platt and Alan Lakata will race as the BULLS Legends. Martin Frey and Simon Schneller are the BULLS Youngsters.
BMC Fischer’s Casey South and Noah Blöchlinger, who placed second in the 2019 Swiss Epic, will pose a significant danger to the more fancied teams. As will the Square Group – Stevens team of Frans Claes and Soren Nissen; as well as Andreas Seewald and Markus Kaufmann of TEXPA-SIMPLON and the CST Post.NL Bafang line-up of Mārtiņš Blūms and Sebastian Fini.
The 27-team elite men’s line-up are completed by the Maloja Pushbikers Men, NEWBIKE2008, jb Brunex Felt / Giant Offroad, BH Wallonie / NCA RockRider, KMC
KTM Pro, Thömus – DirtySox, SuiDen MTBO Racing, Bernina Sport / Pedale-Simplon, KTM DAMA SELLE SMP ALCHEMIST, SCOTT Italy, SCOTT-Davos/Klosters and SCOTT Development MTB Team squads. Never before in the history of the Swiss Epic has there been such a powerful and deep Elite men’s field. That, combined with the challenging course, should guarantee exciting racing for the mountain biking fans following from home.
In the Elite women’s field, the presence of Langvad ensures everyone will have to be at the top of their games. The Dane, who is undefeated in six Epic Series race starts which include a record-equalling five Absa Cape Epic titles, is set to race with Haley Batten. The Specialized – Racing combination are the undoubted race favourites.
If they are to claim the Elite women’s title, when the Swiss Epic reaches Davos, they will have to see off challenges from Ariane Lüthi and Alice Pirard, of Andermatt Spur, and the Centurion-Vaude Radon team of Stefanie Dohrn and Elisabeth Brandau. Perhaps the most exciting women’s team in the field is the Swiss pairing of Sina Frei and Nicole Köller. The young Swiss Cycling Team riders are both highly talented and have age group cross-country world titles to their names. How they will perform over five days however remains to be seen.
The Maloja Pushbikers’ Linda Indergand and Karla Stepkova; jb BRUNEX Felt Factory Team’s Kim Ames and Nina Benz; plus, Welsche’s Charline Fragnière and Chrystelle Baumann are potential challengers for a podium position. While Alessia Nay and Franziska Brun, of Liv Swiss / Cube Store Chur, as well as Corina Gantenbein and Hielke Elferink of Davos Klosters have less lofty ambitions. The final slots in the thirteen-team strong Elite women’s field are filled by Sophie von Berswordt-Wallrabe and Jacqueline Schneebeli, of jb BRUNEX Felt Factory Team 2, and the Scatta Ladies team of Vera Adrian and Zina Barhoumi.
“We’re honoured to have such formidable line-ups of Elite men and women for the 2020 Swiss Epic” explained Swiss Epic Race Director, Corina Feuerstein. “The Covid-19 pandemic placed the entire event in doubt earlier this year, but we are thrilled that the Swiss government and Graubünden have done so much to make it possible to safely stage a mass participation event again. From a race organisation point of view, we have put procedures in place to minimise the risk for every rider, crew member, as well as the hotel staff and residents of the host towns. With the hard work done behind the scenes we hope that the riders will enjoy their time on the trails of Graubünden. We are looking forward to a fantastic event, with great racing in the Elite categories and scintillating riding for the teams who enter the Swiss Epic simply to challenge themselves by seeking to conquer the Alps. Anyone seeking more information on the measures we have put in place to mitigate the risk of spreading Covid-19 at the Swiss Epic can visit: www.swiss-epic.com/event/returntothetrails/.
The racing gets underway at 08:30 (Central European Summer Time | GMT +2) and fans can follow the action throughout the Swiss Epic. Live rider tracking, for all teams, will be available on the race website www.swiss-epic.com or the Epic Series mobile application. While the race’s social media handles will feature regular updates and highlights from the route through Graubünden. Be sure to follow the action here:
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