Swiss Epic | Highlights from Stage 5 – The Final

The Trek Selle San Marco A team of Michele Casagrande and Fabian Rabensteiner finished fourth on the final stage of the 2019 Swiss Epic to seal their general classification victory. First across the finish line in Davos, on Saturday, were the Devonbosch Stellenbosch team of Frans Claes and Sören Nissen; claiming a race-saving stage win. 

During Stage 5 of the 2019 Swiss Epic from Lenzerheide to Davos, Graubünden, Switzerland on 24 August 2019. Michele CASAGRANDE, Fabian RABENSTEINER, Samuele PORRO, Damiano FERRARO Photo by Marius Holler.
Michele CASAGRANDE, Fabian RABENSTEINER, Samuele PORRO, Damiano FERRARO roll into the finish of stage 5. IMAGE Marius Holler.

On Saturday, 24 August, the 2019 Swiss Epic concluded with Trek Selle San Marco A wrapping up the overall title, while Devonbosch Stellenbosch took the stage honours. Michele Casagrande and Fabian Rabensteiner were content to roll across the final finish line, in Davos, 3 minutes down on the stage winners, secure in the knowledge that they had done enough to be crowned champions. Ahead of them Frans Claes and Sören Nissen turned around a disappointing week with a victory on the Grande Finale.

The 65-kilometre-long Stage 5 traversed the Zügenweg and summited the Äbirugg on the trails from Lenzerheide to Davos. Stage 1’s wet weather long-forgotten, the sun came out to ensure the riders had a pleasant last day in the Swiss Alps of the Graubünden Canton. It was no easy stage however; the route included a sapping 2 300 metres of climbing.

Riders during Stage 5 of the 2019 Swiss Epic from Lenzerheide to Davos, Graubünden, Switzerland on 24 August 2019. Photo by Sam Clark.
IMAGE Sam Clark.

As the stage started with a lap of the Lenzerheide Heidsee before following a flowing singletrack towards the Landwasser Viaduct, there was little opportunity for attacks. Once the climbing began, after the 25-kilometre mark, it was the Superior XC Team/bischi of Martin Gluth and Simon Vitzthum who made the first move. The pair quickly established a 25 second lead, but a wrong turn relegated them to the chase group.

Superior XC Team/bischi misfortune was Devonbosch Stellenbosch’s gain. Claes and Nissen took up the impetus as they split the field on the day’s longest climb. Initially Trek Selle San Marco’s Casagrande, Rabensteiner, Samuele Porro and Damiano Ferraro followed the Belgian/Luxembourgian combination. Realising that Claes and Nissen were over an hour down on the overall classification the decision was made to let them slip away.

During Stage 5 of the 2019 Swiss Epic from Lenzerheide to Davos, Graubünden, Switzerland on 24 August 2019. Michele CASAGRANDE
Michele CASAGRANDE. IMAGE Marius Holler.

“We had no need to take risks today” Rabensteiner recounted, once the Swiss Epic title was secure. “On the final downhill we slowed a bit and came to the finish with both teams together, and without risks. It was fantastic to cross the line with the other team [Trek Selle San Marco: Porro and Ferraro] today. It was such a nice race and it feels great to have won” the, newly crowned, Swiss Epic champion said.

While Trek Selle San Marco took no risks Devonbosch Stellenbosch went all out for the stage victory. Nissen arrived at the finish line sporting a torn jersey and a bloodied arm from a crash on the final descent. “Some people get IRONMAN or Absa Cape Epic tattoos” he joked. “I thought I’d get something to remember the Swiss Epic by so now I have a nice cut from a fall on one of the slippery roots.” His crash did not detract from his joy at securing stage victory. “The week started okay with us in the top five for two stages, but then we had a terrible day on Stage 3. We punctured, broke a chain and panicked. We lost so much time that we decided to take it easy yesterday to save ourselves for today” the Luxembourg cross-country champion stated. “I said yesterday already, we would be going for the stage win today,” his partner, Claes added.

Enrique MORCILLO and Francesc Guerra CARRETERO. IMAGE Michael Chiaretta. .
Enrique MORCILLO and Francesc Guerra CARRETERO. IMAGE Michael Chiaretta.

Claes and Nissen’s winning time was 2 hours, 54 minutes and 5.8 seconds. They were followed across the line by Casey South and Noah Blöchlinger, of jb BRUNEX/Fischer BMC, 1 minute and 24.3 seconds later. The stage podium was wrapped up by Centurion Vaude’s Daniel Geismayr and Vinzent Dorn. Given that all the teams contesting the top five places on the general classification started the final 9-kilometre descent to Davos together, it was unsurprising that Stage 5 saw no shift in the overall standings. Trek Selle San Marco A’s accumulated time of 16 hours and 6 seconds was enough to hand them victory by 6 minutes and 37.9 seconds over the jb BRUNEX/Fischer BMC team. Texpa Simplon’s Michael Stünzi and Marc Stutzmann were third overall, with Centurion Vaude fourth and the other Trek Selle San Marco team fifth. 

Results

UCI Men | Stage 5

  1. Devonbosch Stellenbosch: Frans Claes & Sören Nissen (2:54:05,8)
  2. jb BRUNEX / Fischer BMC: Casey South & Noah Blöchlinger (2:55:30,1 | +1.24,3)
  3. Centurion Vaude: Daniel Geismayr & Vinzent Dorn (2:56:53,8 | +2.48,0)
  4. Trek Selle San Marco A: Michele Casagrande & Fabian Rabensteiner (2:57:19,9 | +3.14,1)
  5. Trek Selle San Marco: Samuele Porro & Damiano Ferraro (2:57:20,3 | +3.14,5)

UCI Men | GC After Stage 5

  1. Trek Selle San Marco A: Michele Casagrande & Fabian Rabensteiner (16:00:06,0)
  2. jb BRUNEX / Fischer BMC: Casey South & Noah Blöchlinger (16:06:43,9 | +6.37,9)
  3. Texpa Simplon: Michael Stünzi & Marc Stutzmann (16:13:41,1 | +13.35,1)
  4. Centurion Vaude: Daniel Geismayr & Vinzent Dorn (16:20:10,0 | +20.04,0)
  5. Trek Selle San Marco: Samuele Porro & Damiano Ferraro (16:21:03,9 | +20.57,9)


In the Women’s race KS Trek – Sportograf’s Adelheid Morath and Bettina Janas completed a remarkable sequence of stage victories, from Stage 2 to Stage 5, in the 2019 Swiss Epic to secure the overall title. 

During Stage 5 of the 2019 Swiss Epic from Lenzerheide to Davos, Graubünden, Switzerland on 24 August 2019.
Adelheid MORATH, Bettina JANAS claim another stage and the GC. IMAGE Marius Holler.

The final stage of the 2019 Swiss Epic saw Adelheid Morath and Bettina Janas complete their remarkable comeback to win the UCI Women’s race title. Having lost 17 minutes on the opening stage the KS Trek – Sportograf team strung together four consecutive stage wins to secure the overall victory. Crossing the line in Davos, on Saturday 24 August, the pair were understandably elated. 

“It’s so cool, we didn’t think about the overall after the first day and now we have won it!” an elated Janas reflected. The stage and race winners completed the 65-kilometre-long final stage, from Lenzerheide to Davos, in a time of 3 hours, 43 minutes and 24.6 seconds. Their time was 2 minutes and 12.6 seconds faster than that of their nearest rivals, Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy, on the day. Not that extending their advantage had been part of the plan for the KS Trek – Sportograf team ahead of the stage. 

Riders during Stage 5 of the 2019 Swiss Epic from Lenzerheide to Davos, Graubünden, Switzerland on 24 August 2019
IMAGE Nick Muzik.

“We focused on ourselves” Janas said of their approach to the stage. “We followed our own rhythm, tried to not go over our limit, not get too nervous and keep cool. That was the key to today’s victory” the rider who represents Sportograf concluded. 

Behind Janas and Morath an epic tussle unfolded between the Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy and Centurion Vaude 2 teams. Having started the stage with 2 minutes and 20.8 seconds separating them, the two engaged in a fierce battle for the Swiss Epic silver medals. Stefanie Dohrn had struggled with illness on Stage 4 and was still not entirely healthy on Stage 5 either. She and Alice Pirard dug deep to stay with Ariane Lüthi and Samarah Sheppard for as long as possible. 

Then when the Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy team began to edge away the Centurion Vaude 2 team fought to limit their time losses. “I left everything out there!” Lüthi puffed after congratulating her partner Sheppard on their second position on Stage 5. The Swiss/New Zealand combination then turned to watch the clock and the finishing straight. 1 minutes and 43.6 seconds ticked by before Pirard and Dohrn sprinted across the finish line. 

Riders during Stage 5 of the 2019 Swiss Epic from Lenzerheide to Davos, Graubünden, Switzerland on 24 August 2019
Adelheid MORATH and Bettina JANAS. IMAGE Sam Clark.

Having done enough to earn second position overall Dohrn confessed: “I had some problems on the last two days. So, it was our goal to finish second overall and we did it! I’m really proud of Alice [Pirard], she really helped me a lot.” The gap between the Centurion Vaude and Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy teams, after five challenging days of racing, was just 37.6 seconds. 

Further down the field the early leaders of the Swiss Epic, the Shimano S-Phyre team continued lose ground on the overall standings. Kathrin Stirnemann’s breathing troubles, which had caused her problems on Stages 3 and 4 worsened on Stage 5. “Today was worse. My diaphragm felt like it was made of stone and I could hardly breathe” Stirnemann recounted. “It was a struggle just to get to the finish.”

Riders during Stage 5 of the 2019 Swiss Epic from Lenzerheide to Davos, Graubünden, Switzerland on 24 August 2019
IMAGE Sam Clark.

Stirnemann and her teammate Corina Gantenbein finished fifth on the stage; but only lost one general classification position, slipping to fourth overall. In a reverse of the stage and overall standings, the Swiss MTB Girls powered by Play up! finished fourth on the day and fifth overall. The young Swiss combination of Ramona Kupferschmied and Chrystelle Baumann gained valuable experience at the 2019 Swiss Epic, which will no doubt stand them in good stead for the rest of the long careers they have ahead of them.

Results:

UCI Women | Stage 5

  1. KS TREK – Sportograf: Adelheid Morath & Bettina Janas (3:43:24,6)
  2. Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy: Ariane Lüthi & Samara Sheppard (3:45:37,2 | +2.12,6)
  3. Centurion Vaude 2: Alice Pirard & Stefanie Dohrn (3:47:20,8 | +3.56,2)
  4. Swiss MTB Girls powered by Play up!: Ramona Kupferschmied & Chrystelle Baumann (3:54:54,4 | +11.29,8)
  5. Shimano S-Phyre: Corina Gantenbein & Kathrin Stirnemann (4:05:13,4 | +21.48,8)

UCI Women | GC After Stage 5

  1. KS TREK – Sportograf: Adelheid Morath & Bettina Janas (20:36:27,5) 
  2. Centurion Vaude 2: Alice Pirard & Stefanie Dohrn (20:40:37,1 | +4.09,6)
  3. Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy: Ariane Lüthi & Samara Sheppard (20:41:14,7 | +4.47,2)
  4. Shimano S-Phyre: Corina Gantenbein & Kathrin Stirnemann (21:00:05,0 | +23.37,5)
  5. Swiss MTB Girls powered by Play up!: Ramona Kupferschmied & Chrystelle Baumann (22:02:08,0 | +1:25.40,5)
Riders during Stage 5 of the 2019 Swiss Epic from Lenzerheide to Davos, Graubünden, Switzerland on 24 August 2019. Photo by Nick Muzik.
IMAGE Nick Muzik.
Riders during Stage 5 of the 2019 Swiss Epic from Lenzerheide to Davos, Graubünden, Switzerland on 24 August 2019. Photo by Michael Chiaretta.
Xavier SCHEEPERS with his Epic Legends medal. IMAGE Marius Holler.
Riders during Stage 5 of the 2019 Swiss Epic from Lenzerheide to Davos, Graubünden, Switzerland on 24 August 2019. Photo by Michael Chiaretta.
Emotional scenes at the finish line. IMAGE Michael Chiaretta.

See ya in 2020!



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