Annika Langvad and Haley Batten raced to a second successive Swiss Epic stage victory on Stage 2 of the 2020 race. The Specialized – Racing pair were dominant in the singletracks and clung onto their advantage on the long final climb to extend their general classification lead.
Another mature performance by Haley Batten saw her and her Specialized – Racing teammate, Annika Langvad, extend their Swiss Epic overall lead; on Wednesday, 19 August. The pair exerted their dominance on the singletracks in the first 50 kilometres of the stage and then Batten gritted her teeth on the 20-kilometre-long main climb. By digging deep, she aided Langvad in the bid to hold off the fast-finishing Centurion Vaude Radon team and win Stage 2.
The stage started in Laax and traced the Rhine Gorge in a singletrack-filled opening couple of hours. In that terrain, as they did on Stage 1, Langvad and Batten proved unstoppable. They were, however, joined by Nicole Koller. Koller’s partner, Sina Frei, withdrew shortly after the start, due to a knee injury she sustained in a fall the day before. This left Koller to race solo. The Swiss rider was happy to showcase her technical skills alongside the women in the orange leader jerseys, but she could also not interfere with the way the race unfolded. So, she had to follow rather than set the pace.
By the 20-kilometre mark, Specialized – Racing’s advantage was 1 minute, over the day’s surprise package the Maloja Pushbikers. Linda Indergand and Karla Stepanova had struggled on the opening day but Stage 2 proved more to their liking. Nonetheless, they, like Centurion Vaude Radon and Andermatt Spur behind them, were unable to close the gap to Langvad and Batten.
At the foot of the day’s major climb, which ascended from Chur to the highest point of the day at 2 007 metres, Specialized – Racing held a near 5-minute advantage on Stefanie Dohrn and Elisabeth Brandau. The 20-kilometre-long pass gained nearly 1 000 metres in elevation, which was tipped more in the favour of the chasers by the fact that the first half was on asphalt. Centurion Vaude Radon passed Indergand and Stepanova within the first 5 kilometres of the ascent. Then went to work reducing the lead of Langvad and Batten.
In total, they managed to knock the best part of 3 minutes off Specialized – Racing’s advantage. It was not enough to bring them in sight of the race leaders, however. Langvad and Batten could thus descend, without significant pressure from the summit, at Rot Tritt, to the finish line, in Arosa. By the time they crossed the line they had extended their lead once more.
Specialized – Racing’s time of 4 hours, 11 minutes and 17 seconds was 2 minutes and 21 seconds faster than that of Centurion Vaude Radon. Despite fading over the final kilometres of the climb, Maloja Pushbikers hung on to finish third, 8 minutes and 7 seconds down. Andermatt Spur were fourth and the jb BRUNEX Felt Factory 2 team rounded out the top 5.
After two stages of racing, in the beautiful mountains and valleys of Graubünden, Langvad and Batten hold a 15 minute and 23 second lead, on the general classification. Dohrn and Brandau are second, 3 minutes and 18 seconds ahead of Ariane Lüthi and Alice Pirard in third. Their third position on the stage moved Indergand and Stepanova up to fourth, while the jb Brunex Felt Factory Team drops to fifth after a disappointing day for Nina Benz and Kim Ames.
Thursday’s Stage 3 offers the opportunity for all the Elite women to reshape the general classification with strong performances. The compact, 50-kilometre, course is made up of two loops, which pass through the Arosa race village, in a challenging route. Steep climbs, including one to the highest point of the race at 2 614 metres above sea level, are followed by long singletrack descents. If anyone cracks on the climb to Gredigs Fürggli they could lose a significant amount of time.
The battle for the women’s category title in the 2020 Swiss Epic is thus far from over. Tune in tomorrow to see the racing action play out. The stage starts at 09:00 (Central European Summer Time/GMT +2).
2020 Swiss Epic Results
Stage 2 Results
1. Specialized – Racing: Annika Langvad & Haley Batten (4:11:17)
2. Centurion Vaude Radon: Stefanie Dohrn & Elisabeth Brandau (4:13:38 | +2:21)
3. Maloja Pushbikers: Linda Indergand & Karla Stepanova (4:19:24 | +8:07 )
4. Andermatt Spur: Ariane Lüthi & Alice Pirard (4:20:19 | +9:02)
5. jb BRUNEX Felt Factory Team 2: Sophie von Berswordt-Wallrabe & Jacqueline Schneebeli (4:21:53 | +10:36)
General Classification Results after Stage 2
1. Specialized – Racing: Annika Langvad & Haley Batten (8:00:14)
2. Centurion-Vaude Radon: Stefanie Dohrn & Elisabeth Brandau (8:15:37 | +15:23)
3. Andermatt Spur: Ariane Lüthi & Alice Pirard (8:18:55 | +18:41)
4. Maloja Pushbikers: Linda Indergand & Karla Stepanova (8:23:12 | +22:58)
5. jb Brunex Felt Factory Team: Nina Benz & Kim Ames (8:25:00 | +24:46)