In the Men’s Race, Kristian Hynek and Martin Stošek timed their attack to perfection to climb away from the leading group in the final kilometers of Stage 2.
The move led to a Swiss Epic stage victory for the pair; but they could not do enough to unseat the race leaders, SCOTT-SRAM.
Nino Schurter and Lars Forster started the stage like a team knowing they would be put on the defensive later in the day. The SCOTT-SRAM riders roared from the blocks, quickly establishing a 1-minute lead. In a unique turn of events, they were joined by Simon Andreassen, of Specialized Racing. The young Dane shadowed the leaders for much of the stage; wracking up time penalties and a warning from the race officials for exceeding the 2-minute separation rule, which should have kept him closer to his partner Jaroslav Kulhavý. A large chase group formed behind Schurter and Forster; led in turns by Centurion Vaude, Future Cycling Northwave, BMC Fischer and the BULLS Heroes. Through collaboration, they were able to keep the deficit manageable and eventually reel SCOTT-SRAM in before the foot of the day’s major climb.
Passing Service Station 2, at the 51-kilometre mark, four teams were in direct contention for stage honours. They were Centurion Vaude, SCOTT-SRAM, Future Cycling Northwave and BULLS Heroes. The BULLS Youngsters and Maloja Pushbikers were 30 seconds off the pace, while Trek Pirelli 1 was a further 8 seconds back. On the 20-kilometre-long climb, that gained 1 000 metres from Chur to Rot Tritt, Daniel Geismayr initially set the pace. The Austrian’s efforts looked to be putting pressure on Forster in particular, but the Swiss rider resolutely clung to Ben Zwiehoff’s wheel.
The non-technical nature of the descent from Rot Tritt to Arosa aided Hynek and Stošek. The Czech team maintained the advantage, which they held at the summit, over SCOTT-SRAM and Centurion Vaude. “Sure, after yesterday when we were very frustrated, it feels good to win today” Hynek confessed, after crossing the finish line. “Yesterday we were feeling good on the climbs but lost minutes and minutes in the technical downhills. Today was much, much, better. We expected the scenario of how the stage unfolded. And being able to plan for it paid off.”
Future Cycling Northwave’s winning time of 3 hours, 17 minutes and 3 seconds was 36 seconds faster than SCOTT-SRAM’s time. Centurion Vaude was third, 44 seconds down on the stage winners. The BULLS Heroes and Trek Pirelli 1 rounded out the top 5. The stage results mean that, after 2 days of racing in Graubünden, Schurter and Forster lead the race by 1 minute and 33 seconds. Geismayr and Zwiehoff are second, for Centurion Vaude, while Trek Pirelli are third, 5 minutes and 32 seconds down.
Stage 2 Results
- Future Cycling Northwave: Kristian Hynek & Martin Stošek (3:17:03)
- SCOTT-SRAM: Nino Schurter & Lars Forster (3:17:39 | +36)
- Centurion Vaude: Daniel Geismayr & Ben Zwiehoff (3:17:47 | +44)
- BULLS Heroes: Urs Huber & Simon Stiebjahn (3:19:49 | +2:46)
- Trek-Pirelli 1: Fabian Rabensteiner & Samuele Porro (3:21:52 | +4:49)
General Classification after Stage 2
- SCOTT-SRAM: Nino Schurter & Lars Forster (6:18:48)
- Centurion Vaude: Daniel Geismayr & Ben Zwiehoff (6:20:21 | +1:33)
- Trek-Pirelli 1: Fabian Rabensteiner & Samuele Porro (6:24:20 | +5:32)
- Future Cycling Northwave: Kristian Hynek & Martin Stošek (6:25:37 | +6:49)
- BULLS Heroes: Urs Huber & Simon Stiebjahn (6:29:47 | +10:59)
In the Women’s Race Specialized Racing secured another win.
Annika Langvad and Haley Batten of Specialized Racing were dominant in the singletracks and clung onto their advantage on the long final climb to extend their general classification lead.
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-kilometer 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 meters, Specialized – Racing held a near 5-minute advantage on Stefanie Dohrn and Elisabeth Brandau. The 20-kilometer-long pass gained nearly 1 000 meters 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 kilometers 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.
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 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)
ABOUT THE RACE: The SWISS EPIC is a five-day mountain bike stage race held annually in the Graubünden region of Switzerland. Founded in 2014, this year sees the seventh edition, running from 18 to 22 August 2020. Professional and dedicated amateur athletes alike take on the challenge of conquering the Alps in teams of two, covering 320km and 12 250m of climbing. Riders visit three stage locations in Graubünden: Laax, Arosa and Davos, tackling world-famous trails, all surrounded by breathtaking Alpine scenery. The Swiss Epic is a full-service mountain bike stage race and includes accommodation, luggage transfer, race support, massage and tech support. As part of the Epic Series, it is an Absa Cape Epic Qualifier event, giving riders a change to gain an entry to the world’s premier mountain bike stage race.
| IMAGES: Michael Chiaretta, Francesco Narcisi, Marius Holler |