This year again, it turned out to be the Grand Finale of the Cyclocross season: Some 140 athletes from 15 nations gathered together for the second edition of Tortour Cyclocross, the first multi-day ultra-cyclocross and gravel stage race in the world, from the 10 to 12 February 2017 in Glattfelden near Zürich. The two Swiss pro-riders, Simon Zahner and Marcel Wildhaber, delivered an exciting head to head battle over the entire race course, but in the end, Simon Zahner was able to take the overall win. For most of the other competitors, this year’s Tortour Cyclocross was once again more about the cycling adventure and camaraderie.
The weather was cold, but at least it stayed dry. Even though the snow was kept at bay, the ground was still wet, providing a soft and muddy race track over certain parts. With the extremely fast prologue on Friday, and the two long stages, 80 kilometres through the Zurich Weinland on Saturday and 74 kilometres through the Zurich Unterland on Sunday, the name Tortour Cyclocross was again more than justified.
Simon Zahner stated: “A difficult challenge, but so much fun!“
Simon Zahner from Dürnten showed from the beginning that he was going to set the pace. He won Friday’s 23 kilometres prologue by more than 2 minutes, ahead of Marcel Wildhaber from Galgenen, which also brought him the overall win in the end.
The two favourites led both Saturday and Sunday’s long stages in a long and hard head to head battle well in front of the rest of the field. Even though Marcel Wildhaber won Sunday’s stage, Simon Zahner was able to take the overall win because of his great time from Friday’s prologue. With a total time of 6h 29min over the 180 kilometres and 2500 vertical metres course he secured the overall win of the second Tortour Cyclocross.
“Today’s stage was even more difficult than yesterday’s“, said Simon Zahner. „The ground started to thaw out and became very sticky – we really had to work hard for this one. Despite the strain, it was extremely fun to battle Marcel Wildhaber again, and to be able to ride these beautiful stages together. He was, over the past months, my biggest competitor – but the season also brought us closer together. TORTOUR Cyclocross was hard – but very well organised and an extremely great experience. The perfect end to the season.“ Marcel Wildhaber took the second overall position only 2min 31sec behind. The youngest in the field, 18 year old Mauro Schmid from Sünikon, took third. Last year’s winner, Lukas Winterberg, was unfortunately not able to race because of the flu.
In the Womens category, Veronika Heule from Benken claimed the victory, well over 43 minutes ahead of the second place finisher, Julia Nikolopoulos from Germany. „I won the starting spot just before Christmas in a Cycling magazine contest, so I was even more motivated“, said the winner, who was riding under the team name “Glückskind“ (darling of fortune). “This was my first cyclocross race and I did a lot of in-snow training. I was, at first, almost a little disappointed that the weather was so dry. I finally was surprised that it went so well for me. I never expected that!“
There was also an uncontested winner in the Masters category: Stefan Maag from Embrach took the win, 39 minutes ahead of Jukka Jokela of Finland. In the Mens team of 2 category, Jean-François Bossler and Frédéric Ischard, the French team Velochannel.com, claimed the win. Team Santa Cruz 2 with Jörn Basel and Martina Kunz won the Mixed category, and the Womens category was won by the team of Elsbeth Winkler and Viviane Spielmann from TG Hütten.
Oc-president Roy Bruderer had some positive feedback about this year’s Tortour Cyclocross: “Of course the cold forced some of the riders to end early – with such long stages, that don’t normally exist in cyclocross races, it’s not very surprising though. Despite the strain, most of the participants enjoyed the race and the new course – our concept worked again this year. Moreover, Glattfelden has proven to be a great venue!”
15 Nations represented
Tortour Cyclocross was even more international this year: Cyclocross and gravel fans came from 15 different nations, including the USA, Colombia, Greece, and Israel. The athletes from foreign countries made up some 40% of the participants. Most of the athletes weren’t so focused on making the Top 10, as they rather were on sharing this unforgettable cycling experience with other like-minded individuals from around the globe. Friendship and fairness was the scene within this international cyclocross community.
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