Nino Schurter and Lars Forster continued their march towards the Swiss Epic title on Stage 4 of the 2020 race.
The SCOTT-SRAM pair rode to their third stage victory, in so doing extending their general classification lead to nearly 10 minutes.
Another flawless performance by Nino Schurter and Lars Forster saw them extend their Swiss Epic GC lead on Stage 4 today. The SCOTT-SRAM pair were the first team over the summit, at the highest point of the route between Arosa and Davos and controlled the gap to the chasing Future Cycling Northwave team all the way to the finish line. It was their third stage victory of the 2020 race.
It did not come easy, though. Kristian Hynek and Martin Stošek were joined in the task of putting pressure on Schurter and Forster by TEXPA-SIMPLON, all three of the Trek Pirelli teams, as well as the BULLS Heroes and Youngsters. Andreas Seewald and Markus Kaufmann, along with Rabensteiner, Samuele Porro, Hynek and Stošek were the only riders to maintain that challenge for a significant portion of the stage, however. By joining forces, Future Cycling Northwave, TEXPA-SIMPLON and Trek Pirelli 1 were able to ensure that SCOTT-SRAM remained within sight until after the summit of the Duranna Pass. Initially, a large group had remained together, strung out by the climb through the Arosa Bear Sanctuary and the descent of the Hörnli Trail; departing Arosa. The 10-kilometer climb to 2 139 meters above sea level, the highest point of the day, thinned the contenders for stage victory down to four powerful teams.
In the final kilometer of the ascent, when forest road gave way to singletrack, they simply rode away from Future Cycling Northwave, TEXPA-SIMPLON and Trek Pirelli 1. On the descent from the top of the Duranna Pass to Klosters, Schurter and Forster extended their lead to 47 seconds. In the remaining 28 kilometers, the gap never dipped below that, until SCOTT-SRAM took their feet off the gas in the run to the finish line in Davos. Future Cycling Northwave were, try as they might, unable to reel the men in yellow back in.
“Today went really well” Schurter allowed. “We had a good start and on the uphill we were able to stick with the leaders. Then on the downhill we opened up a gap and held the advantage to the finish. I’m very happy with another stage victory, but more importantly with extending our overall lead.” Countering his partner’s playing down of the stage’s challenges, Forster clarified: “Today was hard! The other teams wanted to attack from the start and Trek Pirelli made it particularly difficult on the first climb, out of Arosa. Fortunately, the pace settled on the downhill to the lowest point of the stage and we were able, thereafter, to ride with the front group to the highest point of the day. There we were able to get into the singletrack first and, despite it not being that technical, we were able to open a little bit of a gap. From there, it was just an effort to hold the advantage until the end.”
Upon crossing the line, Schurter and Forster secured their third stage victory of the 2020 Swiss Epic. Their time for the 74-kilometer course was 3 hours, 30 minutes and 43 seconds. Hynek and Stošek were second, 23 seconds slower. Rabensteiner and Porro rounded out the podium places on the day but conceded a potentially crucial 3 minutes and 30 seconds to Future Cycling Northwave. Going into the fifth and final stage of the race, SCOTT-SRAM’s victory is all but assured. Only a minor disaster can prevent them from securing the Swiss Epic title. Second place is far less secure, however. Only 1 minute and 27 seconds separate Trek Pirelli 1, in second, from Future Cycling Northwave, in third. The Czech riders will be doing their utmost to overturn that deficit on Stage 5. The final stage is a 61-kilometer loop, which starts and finishes in Davos, taking in 2 550 meters of climbing and some of the singletrack paradise of the Alps’ best trails.
Results Stage 4
1. SCOTT-SRAM: Nino Schurter & Lars Forster (3:30:43)
2. Future Cycling Northwave: Kristian Hynek & Martin Stošek (3:31:06 | +23)
3. Trek Pirelli 1: Fabian Rabensteiner & Samuele Porro (3:34:36 | +3:53)
4. TEXPA-SIMPLON: Andreas Seewald & Markus Kaufmann (3:35:49 | +5:06)
5. BULLS Youngsters: Martin Frey & Simon Schneller (3:36:21 | +5:38)
General Classification after Stage 4
1. SCOTT-SRAM: Nino Schurter & Lars Forster (12:12:20)
2. Trek-Pirelli 1: Fabian Rabensteiner & Samuele Porro (12:22:08 | +9:48)
3. Future Cycling Northwave: Kristian Hynek & Martin Stošek (12:23:35 | +11:15)
4. BULLS Youngsters: Martin Frey & Simon Schneller (12:40:27 | +28:07)
5. TEXPA-SIMPLON: Andreas Seewald & Markus Kaufmann (12:42:20 | +30:00)
In the Women’s Race: Specialized Racing Keep Charging At The Front
There was no stopping Annika Langvad and Haley Batten on Stage 4 of the Swiss Epic. The Specialized – Racing pair continued their Graubünden dominance with a fourth stage win, in as many days.
Momentum is well and truly on the side of Annika Langvad and Haley Batten. The Specialized – Racing pair secured their fourth, dominant, stage victory of the 2020 Swiss Epic; on Friday, 21 August. Neither the 74-kilometre stage, from Arosa to Davos nor their rivals were able to slow the Danish/American pair’s relentless march to success. The stage followed a now well-established pattern. Langvad and Batten raced ahead whenever the trails became technical and the only terrain anyone could match them on was the day’s long climb. In the first 13 kilometers, Specialized – Racing had the Centurion Vaude Radon women for company. Stefanie Dohrn and Elisabeth Brandau were unable however to descend at the pace being set by Langvad and Batten, on the Hörnli Trail.
Over the next 15 kilometers, to the base of the climb to the Duranna Pass, the women in the orange Scatta leader jerseys gradually extended their advantage. Then the roads pointed uphill in earnest and Dohrn and Brandau trailed Langvad and Batten by 2 minutes and 20 seconds. Yet, at the summit, 10 kilometers later, the Centurion Vaude Radon women led by 14 seconds. Those 14 seconds proved a wholly inadequate buffer. Langvad and Batten simply blew passed the German combination, never looking back. Once that happened, another Specialized – Racing stage victory was never in doubt.
Their approach of racing smart certainly paid off as they crossed the line 6 minutes and 48 seconds ahead of their closest rivals, Centurion Vaude Radon. jb Brunex Felt Factory’s Nina Benz and Kim Ames were third on the day; while behind them there was drama for Ariane Lüthi and Alice Pirard. The Andermatt Spur women had started the day in third overall, but a mechanical issue near the summit of the Duranna Pass very nearly cost them a general classification position. While Lüthi and Pirard ran their bikes up the climb, Linda Indergand and Karla Stepanova forged on. At one stage it looked as if the Maloja Pushbikers would be able to regain a significant chunk of the 3 minutes and 38 seconds which separated them, from Andermatt Spur at the start of the day. That was not to be, however, as Lüthi and Pirard stormed back, in the final kilometers, reducing the time they gave up, to Indergand and Stepanova, to just 8 seconds.
Going into the final stage Specialized – Racing lead by 32 minutes and 32 seconds over Dohrn and Brandau. The advantage Langvad and Batten hold appears insurmountable, in the absence of a race-ending mechanical. Meanwhile, the battle for the final podium place remains captivating, with 3 minutes and 30 seconds separating Andermatt Spur from the Maloja Pushbikers. Further back, Benz and Ames moved up to fifth on the women’s GC with their stellar Stage 4 result. Stage 5, however, will be a different sort of challenge. The route is packed with downhill singletracks and a significant opening climb, which leads the teams from Davos, at 1 500 metres above sea level, to the highest point of the day, within 8 kilometers. Reaching the summit at 2 321 meters above sea level comes with the reward of a near 20-kilometer-long descent, which includes the Panorama Trail. The stage and the race conclude with the Ischalp Trail, one of singletrack paradise Davos’ best trails.
Results Stage 4
- Specialized – Racing: Annika Langvad & Haley Batten (4:20:01)
- Centurion Vaude Radon: Stefanie Dohrn & Elisabeth Brandau (4:26:49 | +6:48)
- jb Brunex Felt Factory: Nina Benz & Kim Ames (4:27:11 | +7:10)
- Maloja Pushbikers: Linda Indergand & Karla Stepanova (4:30:43 | +10:42)
- Andermatt Spur: Ariane Lüthi & Alice Pirard (4:30:51 | +10:50)
General Classification after Stage 4
- Specialized – Racing: Annika Langvad & Haley Batten (15:17:34)
- Centurion Vaude Radon: Stefanie Dohrn & Elisabeth Brandau (15:50:06 | +32:32)
- Andermatt Spur: Ariane Lüthi & Alice Pirard (16:00:58 | +43:24)
- Maloja Pushbikers: Linda Indergand & Karla Stepanova (16:04:28 | +46:54)
- jb Brunex Felt Factory: Nina Benz & Kim Ames (16:07:52 | +50:18)
| IMAGES: Michael Chiaretta, Francesco Narcisi, Marius Holler |