2020 Swiss Epic: Stage Three

SCOTT-SRAM Give it Horns on Stage 3 of the Swiss Epic

The Hörnli Trail was among the many highlights of Stage 3 of the 2020 Swiss Epic. In a day packed with downhill singletracks, around Arosa, it was unsurprising that SCOTT-SRAM’s Nino Schurter and Lars Forster emerged victorious. 

Graubünden is famed, in the summer months, for its alpine cattle and vast dual-use trail network. On Stage 3 of the 2020 Swiss Epic, riders were treated to some of the best singletracks the canton has to offer, including the Hörnli Trail. True to form, and pre-stage expectations, SCOTT-SRAM excelled on a route seemingly tailor-made for their strengths. Nino Schurter and Lars Forster raced to their second stage victory, in so doing extending their overall lead to nearly 6 minutes.

Mountain bike riders in action at the 2020 Swiss Epic stage race in Switzerland
The start of stage three as riders head out of Arosa.

Schurter and Forster’s skills put their rivals on the back foot. For Centurion Vaude’s Ben Zwiehoff, this pressure led to an untimely and race-ending crash. Having set the pace on the opening climb; which led the field from Arosa to the Hörnli Ski Station, at 2 400 metres above sea level, Zwiehoff crashed in the first downhill singletrack of the day. The German rider struck his knee badly in the fall and, despite battling on for a few more kilometres, was unable to complete the stage. With Centurion Vaude out of contention, Trek Pirelli 1 stepped up to challenge of Schurter and Forster. Fabian Rabensteiner and Samuele Porro took the race to the men in the yellow Scatta leader jerseys. Try as they may, Trek Pirelli could simply not distance SCOTT-SRAM.

Mountain bike riders in action at the 2020 Swiss Epic stage race in Switzerland
Fabian Rabensteiner and Samuele Porro took the race to the men in the yellow.

Rabensteiner and Porro were, however, able to control the pace on the long descent of the Hörnli Trail, one of Europe’s longest flow trails, and along the singletrack past the Arosa Bear Sanctuary. On the forest road run-in to the final singletrack, which began 5 kilometres from the finish line in Arosa, the Trek Pirelli 1 team were unable to keep Schurter and Forster behind them. Once the SCOTT-SRAM team had clear trail ahead of them, they simply descended away to a comfortable victory.

“Our goal for today was to win the stage” Schurter revealed. “It was a good stage for us. Not too long, with lots of trails and nice descents. The day couldn’t have gone better. We got a lead on the first singletrack, with Trek Pirelli 1 and could work well with them on the second climb. Then, on the last downhill, we were able to get in front of them, establish a little gap and take the stage win. Which also means we extend our overall lead. We’re in the best position going into the final 2 stages” Forster added. “It is now up to the other teams to do something; we don’t have to take any risks.” This could be key to him and Schurter securing the overall title. As Zwiehoff’s misfortune today proved, a small crash can be disastrous on the rocky, high alpine, trails.

Mountain bike riders in action at the 2020 Swiss Epic stage race in Switzerland
The dynamic duo of Schurter and Forster seem unstoppable and extended their overall lead.

Behind the pace-setting SCOTT-SRAM and Trek Pirelli teams on Stage 3, the fight for third was fiercely contested throughout the stage. Future Cycling Northwave, BMC Fischer and the BULLS Heroes raced the majority of the route together. The three teams swapped turns on the front until Kristian Hynek and Martin Stošek were eventually able to slip away, in the closing kilometres. The Future Cycling Northwave team finished 4 minutes and 5 seconds behind the stage winners, Schurter and Forster. Trek Pirelli 1, meanwhile gave up 25 seconds to the SCOTT-SRAM team. BMC Fischer crossed the line in fourth, edging out the BULLS Heroes in a sprint.

After 3 days of racing, SCOTT-SRAM leads Trek Pirelli 1 by 5 minutes and 55 seconds. Hynek and Stošek move up to third on the general classification, 10 minutes and 52 seconds behind the race leaders. The BULLS Heroes and their support team, the BULLS Youngsters, complete the top 5 places.

Results Stage 3

  1. SCOTT-SRAM: Nino Schurter & Lars Forster (2:22:49)
    2. Trek Pirelli 1: Fabian Rabensteiner & Samuele Porro (2:23:12 | +25)
    3. Future Cycling Northwave: Kristian Hynek & Martin Stošek (2:26:52 | +4:05)
    4. BMC Fischer: Casey South & Noah Blöchlinger (2:27:06 | +4:20)
    5. BULLS Heroes: Urs Huber & Simon Stiebjahn (2:27:08 | +4:21)

General Classification after Stage 3

  1. SCOTT-SRAM: Nino Schurter & Lars Forster (8:41:37)
    2. Trek-Pirelli 1: Fabian Rabensteiner & Samuele Porro (8:47:32 | +5:55)
    3. Future Cycling Northwave: Kristian Hynek & Martin Stošek (8:52:29 | +10:52)
    4. BULLS Heroes: Urs Huber & Simon Stiebjahn (8:56:55 | +15:18)
    5. BULLS Youngsters: Martin Frey & Simon Schneller (9:04:06 | +22:29)

In the Women’s Race: Specialized Racing go 3 for 3

By securing their third stage victory in a row, Specialized – Racing’s Annika Langvad and Haley Batten are well on track to claiming a perfect score at the 2020 Swiss Epic.

It is with good reason that Specialized – Racing’s Annika Langvad is considered the Queen of Stage Racing. In 7 Epic Series starts she has won an astonishing 39, from a possible 48, stages. On Stage 3 of the 2020 Swiss Epic – which started and finished in Arosa on Thursday, 20 August – the Dane once again reigned supreme. She and America’s Haley Batten secured their third win of the race.

Mountain bike riders in action at the 2020 Swiss Epic stage race in Switzerland
Batten and Langvad are a class above the rest.

The only time on Stage 3 that the Specialized – Racing combination was in any difficulty was in the first 10 kilometres of the day. Centurion Vaude Radon used their superior climbing ability to briefly distance Langvad and Batten. As on the previous 2 stages, Stefanie Dohrn and Elisabeth Brandau were eager to attack the race leaders on any long climb. Rising from Arosa in the valley to 2 400 metres above sea level, at the Hörnli Ski Station, the first climb of the day was long and brutally steep in places. Langvad and Batten were content to let Dohrn and Brandau slip away, knowing that they would be able to reel the German combination in on the singletrack that followed. Only 4 kilometres separated Hörnli Ski Station from the highest point of the race, at Gredigs Fürggli, but in that time Specialized – Racing turned a 40-second deficit into a 1 minute and 20-second lead.

From there, Langvad and Batten never looked back. They inexorably extended their lead to 8 minutes and 2 seconds, by the time they crossed the finish line in Arosa. Behind them, second place changed hands; when Sophie von Berswordt-Wallrabe and Jacqueline Schneebeli overtook Centurion Vaude Radon. Further back, the battle for fourth saw the Maloja Pushbikers and Andermatt Spur locked in a titanic tussle.

Mountain bike riders in action at the 2020 Swiss Epic stage race in Switzerland
Sophie von Berswordt-Wallrabe and Jacqueline Schneebeli railing the switchbacks.

Specialized – Racing’s eventual winning time was 2 hours 57 minutes and 19 seconds. It would take a brave person to bet on Langvad not adding further stage wins to her palmarès in the next 2 days. Especially given her bullish attitude to racing. “It never gets boring [winning stages], because it’s never easy to win a stage of an Epic Series race” she responded to the question of if she ever tires of winning. Another factor in her success appears to be her enjoyment of racing her bike. “The course was really nice today, even though it started very tough” Langvad explained. “We started really high above sea level in Arosa and then climbed to well above 2 000 metres. The technical trails at that altitude were very challenging, as you can feel the lack of oxygen with every breath you take. But we raced well together again today. We caught Stefanie Dohrn and Elisabeth Brandau in the first singletracks. Thereafter we were able to open up a nice gap, which I didn’t realise was so big until we crossed the finish line. We thought they were closer so we pinned it all the way to the finish.”

Pinning it all the way to the finish line resulted in Langvad and Batten extending their overall lead to 25 minutes and 44 seconds over Dohrn and Brandau. Ariane Lüthi and Alice Pirard’s fifth place on the stage was enough to keep them in third overall, 32 minutes and 34 seconds behind the women in orange. The Andermatt Spur team’s podium spot is at risk, however, as Maloja Pushbikers are now just 3 minutes and 38 seconds behind them. jb BRUNEX Felt Factory 2’s von Berswordt-Wallrabe and Schneebeli round out the top 5 on the women’s general classification.

Results: Stage 3

  1. Specialized – Racing: Annika Langvad & Haley Batten (2:57:19)
    2. jb BRUNEX Felt Factory Team 2: Sophie von Berswordt-Wallrabe & Jacqueline Schneebeli (3:05:21 | +8:02)
    3. Centurion Vaude Radon : Stefanie Dohrn & Elisabeth Brandau (3:07:40 | +10:22)
    4. Maloja Pushbikers: Linda Indergand & Karla Stepanova (3:10:33 | +13:16)
    5. Andermatt Spur: Ariane Lüthi & Alice Pirard (3:11:12 | +13:56)

General Classification after Stage 3

  1. Specialized – Racing: Annika Langvad & Haley Batten (10:57:33)
    2. Centurion Vaude Radon: Stefanie Dohrn & Elisabeth Brandau (11:23:17 | +25:44)
    3. Andermatt Spur: Ariane Lüthi & Alice Pirard (11:30:07 | +32:34)
    4. Maloja Pushbikers: Linda Indergand & Karla Stepanova (11:33:45 | +36:12)
    5. jb BRUNEX Felt Factory 2: Sophie von Berswordt-Wallrabe & Jacqueline Schneebeli (11:40:19 | +42:46)

| IMAGES: Michael Chiaretta, Francesco Narcisi, Marius Holler |


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