Swiss Epic | Highlights from Stage Two

Trek teams won both the UCI Men’s and Women’s categories on Stage 2 of the Swiss Epic in St. Moritz on Wednesday. 

During Stage 2 of the 2019 Swiss Epic from St Moritz to St Moritz, Graubünden, Switzerland on 21 August 2019. Photo by Marius Holler
Startline action. IMAGE Marius Holler.

Trek Selle San Marco A and KS TREK – Sportograf raced to stage honours on the second stage of the 2019 Swiss Epic in St. Moritz on Wednesday, 21 August. The yellow jersey-wearing team of Michele Casagrande and Fabian Rabensteiner made it two-from-two in the UCI Men’s race. In the UCI Women’s category Adelheid Morath and Bettina Janas stormed back from a disappointing opening day to win Stage 2.

It was not just Morath and Janas who were showing better form on the second day of the race, the Swiss weather also improved dramatically. After the overnight rain cleared, the grey clouds that hid most of the mountains and valleys over the past few days slowly drifted away.  While riders had a chilly start to the morning with high mountain passes still shrouded in mist, the rain stayed away and temperatures started rising. 

UCI Men and Woman during Stage 2 of the 2019 Swiss Epic from St Moritz to St Moritz, Graubünden, Switzerland on 21 August 2019. Photo by Sam Clark.
The pace began to heat up after about 40km. IMAGE Sam Clark.

The racing, too, was heating up, though it took a while to truly ignite in the UCI Men’s category. “The first half was quite cool,” Casey South, of jb Brunex / Fischer BMC, explained. “We were riding quite slow in a big group. But then on the uphill of course [on the climb to Laj Alv natural reservoir, which started at the 40 kilometer mark], nobody wanted to go slow anymore” he laughed.

Once again it was the Trek Selle San Marco riders who proved the strongest climbers with only Casagrande and Rabensteiner maintaining the pace they set on Stage 1. They whittled down the lead group until only the jb Brunex / Fischer BMC team of South and Noah Blöchlinger remained with them. Casagrande, Rabensteiner, South and Blöchlinger were joined on the descent from the summit, at 2 543 metres above sea level, by the Texpa Simplon team of Michael Stünzi and Marc Stutzmann.

During Stage 2 of the 2019 Swiss Epic from St Moritz to St Moritz, Graubünden, Switzerland on 21 August 2019. Photo by Marius Holler.
IMAGE Marius Holler.

The three teams were content to ride the spectacular descent together; taking no risks and enjoying the WC trail of the historic Ski World Cup race track in St. Moritz and the Fopettas Trail in particular. Casagrande and Rabensteiner were comfortable to allow the stage to come down to a sprint. “It was a good race today for Fabian (Rabensteiner) and myself,” said Casagrande. “On the downhill we took no risks because we are both speedy in the sprint. But it is still a big surprise for me. Two stages and two victories and the leaders’ jerseys. It’s wonderful!” the Italian concluded.

Adelheid MORATH and Bettina Janas during Stage 2 of the 2019 Swiss Epic from St Moritz to St Moritz, Graubünden, Switzerland on 21 August 2019. Photo by Michael Chiaretta
Adelheid MORATH and Bettina Janas begin to wind the pace up. IMAGE Michael Chiaretta.

Trek Selle San Marco A now lead by 3 minutes and 1 second over their teammates Samuele Porro and Damiano Ferraro. South and Blöchlinger, though edged out on the line by Stünzi and Stutzmann, remain third overall. The jb Brunex / Fischer BMC team’s deficit to the race leaders stands at 6 minutes and 2.8 seconds. Texpa Simplon’s second place on the stage helped them up to fourth overall; as they effectively changed places with the BiXS Pro Team, of Konny Looser and Oliver Zurbrügg.

The UCI Women’s race on Stage 2 followed a similar tone to that set on Stage 1. The first 40, largely flat, kilometes saw the leading four teams jockeying for position, with the pace being set by Shimano S-Phyre, KS TREK – Sportograf and Centurion Vaude 2 alternately. The Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy team were also never far from the front of the race.

During Stage 2 of the 2019 Swiss Epic from St Moritz to St Moritz, Graubünden, Switzerland on 21 August 2019. Photo by Marius Holler.
Singletrack and big mountain territory – this is mountain biking at it’s best! IMAGE Marius Holler.

It all changed on the 12-kilometer-long climb to the Laj Alv. Alice Pirard and Stefanie Dohrn proved to be the strongest ascenders and slowly built up a handy advantage. They ultimately paid for their efforts on the lower slopes in the rarefied air above 2 000 metes. Morath and Janas had paced their assault of the climb to perfection, overhauling Pirard and Dohrn to lead by 1 minute and 28 seconds at the summit.

Having given up over 17 minutes on the opening day Morath and Janas were no threat to the overall lead of Corina Gantenbein and Kathrin Stirnemann, of Shimano S-Phyre. “Because yesterday was such a good day, today was all about pacing” Gantenbein revealed with a smile. “There were so many cool trails, especially the flow trail was really amazing. They [KS Trek – Sportograf] went really fast up the climb, but we decided to just do our pace and bring it safely to the finish.” Their pace was fast enough to only concede 1 minute and 33.5 seconds to the stage winners. More importantly, it was quicker than any of their general classification rivals could muster and Gantenbein and Stirnemann extended their overall lead to 3 minutes and 52.6 seconds.

Adelheid MORATH and Bettina JANAS Win Stage 2 of the 2019 Swiss Epic from St Moritz to St Moritz, Graubünden, Switzerland on 21 August 2019. Photo by Sam Clark.
Adelheid MORATH and Bettina JANAS Win Stage 2 of the 2019 Swiss Epic from St Moritz to St Moritz, Graubünden, Switzerland. IMAGE Sam Clark.

Stage winner Morath meanwhile is relatively unphased by the overall classification. “It went quite well today; but I’m quite relaxed about this race, if I’m honest” she confided. “It’s the first time I team up with Betty [Bettina Janas] and we’re not quite on the same level, so all I can do is support her as much as I can. And we have fun together on the trails. We said at the start of the race that we start together and finish well together, so today was the perfect stage. I loved the last descent. We even had a view, because the sun came out. It was amazing. The flow trail was so enjoyable, it really was a fantastic stage” the German rider said.

Stage 3 promises to be another stellar day in the Swiss Alps as the race moves from St. Moritz to Lenzerheide. The 80-kilometre-long stage features 2 200 metres of climbing and is the race’s Queen Stage. It will not all be hard work however, after the Albula Pass ascent riders will be in for a treat as they ride the flow trail to Bergün and the seemingly endless descent to Filisur. Thereafter sections of the famous Lenzerheide World Championship XC track await.

Results

UCI Men | Stage 2:

  1. Trek Selle San Marco A: Michele Casagrande & Fabian Rabensteiner (3:11:15,7)
  2. Texpa Simplon: Michael Stünzi & Marc Stutzmann (3:11:16,8 | +1,1)
  3. jb Brunex / Fischer BMC: Casey South & Noah Blöchlinger (3:11:17,4 | +1,7)
  4. Trek Selle San Marco: Samuele Porro & Damiano Ferraro (3:14:16,4 | +3.00,7)
  5. Devonbosch Stellenbosch: Frans Claes & Sören Nissen (3:14:17,1 | +3.01,4)

UCI Women | Stage 2:

  1. KS TREK – Sportograf: Adelheid Morath & Bettina Janas (3:59:06,4)
  2. Shimano S-Phyre: Corina Gantenbein & Kathrin Stirnemann (4:00:39,9 | +1.33,5)
  3. Centurion Vaude 2: Alice Pirard & Stefanie Dohrn (4:03:54,2 | +4.47,8)
  4. Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy: Ariane Lüthi & Samara Sheppard (4:07:24,8 | +8.18,4)
  5. Team Åbro / Fairtree: Jennie Stenerhag & Katie Lennard (4:24:34,2 | +25.27,8)

UCI Men | GC after Stage 2:

  1. Trek Selle San Marco A: Michele Casagrande & Fabian Rabensteiner (7:03:36,3)
  2. Trek Selle San Marco: Samuele Porro & Damiano Ferraro (7:06:37,3 | +3.01,0)
  3. jb Brunex / Fischer BMC: Casey South & Noah Blöchlinger (7:09:39,1 | +6.02,8)
  4. Texpa Simplon: Michael Stünzi & Marc Stutzmann (7:12:33,5 | +8.57,2)
  5. Devonbosch Stellenbosch: Frans Claes & Sören Nissen (7:15:04,6 | +11.28,3)

UCI Women | GC after Stage 2:

  1. Shimano S-Phyre: Corina Gantenbein & Kathrin Stirnemann (9:00:03,0)
  2. Centurion Vaude 2: Alice Pirard & Stefanie Dohrn (9:03:55,6 | +3.52,6)
  3. Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy: Ariane Lüthi & Samara Sheppard (9:07:25,2 | +7.22,2)
  4. KS Trek – Sportograf: Adelheid Morath & Bettina Janas (9:15:45,2 | +15.42,2)
  5. Team Åbro / Fairtree: Jennie Stenerhag & Katie Lennard (9:38:05,2 | +38.02,2)


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