The final stage of the Perskindol Swiss Epic today proved to be another tough race, especially because of the cold and rainy weather. Lukas Flückiger and Reto Indergand of the BMC Mountainbike Racing Team I managed to control the race and secure their overall lead against the eternal second-place team CENTURION VAUDE with Daniel Geismayr and Jochen Käss.
Nino Schurter and Matthias Stirnemann of the SCOTT-ODLO MTB RACING TEAM took third place. In the women’s category, Jolanda Neff and Alessandra Keller of the Stöckli Pro team won the last stage, taking a clean sweep of stage wins and showing their superiority.
With Saturday’s award ceremony, the third edition of the six-day mountain bike stage race from Zermatt to Verbier via Leukerbad came to a successful close, with participants having covered a total of 360 km in distance and 12,500 m of ascent.
Vertical Verbier for the Swiss Epic final day
Today’s final stage of the Perskindol Swiss Epic was a circular route in Verbier. Due to the bad and extremely cold weather forecast, with even snow predicted, the route was changed at short notice from 48 kilometres with an ascent of 2200 metres to 39 kilometres and an ascent of 1800 metres. Although the view on the glaciated 4000-metre peak Grand Combin was not quite as magnificent, the final stage still offered plenty of flow. With such a top-quality starting field, the standard for the final stage was extremely high once again and presented a tough and demanding challenge even for elite riders.
Lukas Flückiger following in his younger brother’s footsteps
It was another exciting battle in today’s final stage between the top teams in the Swiss Epic Men’s category. Nino Schurter and Matthias Stirnemann of the SCOTT-ODLO MTB RACING TEAM were the day’s champions with a time of 2 hr 10:15 min, beating the CENTURION VAUDE team with Daniel Geismayr and Jochen Käss by a mere 36 seconds. The BMC Mountainbike Racing Team I with Lukas Flückiger and Reto Indergand finished the day’s race third, two minutes behind the first team, but this was enough to secure their overall lead and win the third Swiss Epic.
Lukas Flückiger is following in the footsteps of his younger brother Mathias, who won the last two editions of the race. “We are really surprised that we won”, said Lukas Flückiger after the race. “We came here not expecting much and then we were suddenly at the front the whole time.”
“The last stage was really tough”, added Reto Indergand. “We kept the two leading teams within sight most of the time and managed to control the race. We are absolutely thrilled that we ended up first!”
The victory is a great achievement, particularly given that the winners have only been racing in a team at very short notice, following the injury of Lars Forster. For the third Swiss Epic in a row, the CENTURION VAUDE team came second. “Second place seems to be reserved for us here”, said Jochen Käss. Daniel Geismayr added: “Of course it’s a bit disappointing for us, but in view of the tough competition we are really pleased to have finished second!”.
Nino Schurter is also happy about coming third: “We didn’t expect to win two stages or to be among the top three overall. I harmonised really well with my new teammate Matthias Stirnemann, who will be joining the SCOTT-ODLO RACING TEAM from next year. It’s a perfect end to the season”, said the Olympic champion.
Clear-cut victory for Neff and Keller
In the women’s category, Jolanda Neff and Alessandra Keller of the Stöckli Pro Team had dominated the race from the very beginning. Increasing their lead every day, they coasted in to win by almost 50 minutes. “This kind of racing, with such long stages, is new for us. We had to get used to it first, so we were surprised to win by so much”, said Jolanda Neff. “We worked really well as a team and were able to race consistently – the perfect end to the season!”
The battle for second place, however, was heated right up to the finish. In the end, Ariane Kleinhans and Corina Gantenbein of the Spur Öztal Team came second, just beating the Wheeler / Rocky Mountain Team with Esther Süss and Hielke Elferink who finished third.
In the mixed category, Adrian Ruhstaller and Cornelia Hug of the R’ADYS SCOTT team took the title, but it was the TREK-MTB.fo team who took the final stage, just like in 2015. Our pre-race favourites Matt Page and Sophie Hemming finished in 5th, a fantastic effort considering their misfortune in the prologue – but that’s mountain biking
In the masters’ category, the DANi SCHNIDER RADSPORT team with Dani Schnider and Oliver Imfeld, who won last year, managed a clear victory once again.
The third edition of a very special mountain bike adventure has come to a close: the Perskindol Swiss Epic, the most important stage race in Europe and one of most beautiful in the world, is over for another year. With a total of 12,500 m of ascent, a large part of the race was obviously decided in the many long uphill stretches. In return, the riders were rewarded daily with numerous downhill runs: countless long, gorgeous singletrack sections gave them the chance to experience the flow of the trails at their very best.
And then of course, there was the unparalleled scenery of the Swiss Alps. Each individual stage provided plenty of breathtaking panoramic views of the Swiss Alps – and participants had an entire week to feast their eyes on the landscape.
Another very special aspect of this third edition was the mood among the athletes. The international mountain biking community, made up of participants from 25 countries and five continents, formed a tight-knit group, in which fairness, cooperation and friendship were given highest priority. The Swiss Epic is not just about winning; it is mainly about experiencing a fantastic mountain biking adventure as part of a team.