Not all mountain bike stage races are created equally. And since the first edition of the Perskindol Swiss Epic, we knew this race stood out from the rest. As Matt Page and Stu Spies tested themselves in the UCI Men’s class, they both reached sporting high points while at the same time riding excellent trails and staying in pretty alpine towns in proper accommodation. The Swiss Epic had arrived, it was hard, and it ticked all the boxes.
And now, 2019 marks a new chapter in the Perskindol Swiss Epic’s history books. While the route has focused on the Valais since inceptions will see an all-new race course and new stage towns, tackling Graubünden’s trails in the south-eastern part of Switzerland where the race will be hosted for the next five years.
Graubünden offers exactly what riders tackling the Swiss Epic are looking for – another huge network of exciting trails to choose from. Perskindol Swiss Epic’s managing director Felix Eichenberger looks forward to showing off Graubünden’s spoils to the riders in 2019.
“Each year we aim to design an extraordinary and unique course and to balance the challenge of tackling a 5-day mountain bike stage race in the mountains with exhilarating trails and spectacular views of the Swiss Alps. Big thanks to the Valais for hosting us for the last five years, and we’re looking forward to exploring new routes in the Graubünden region for the next five.” Along its 5-day, 350km route, the 2019 edition visits the towns of Davos, St. Moritz and Lenzerheide (host of the 2018 UCI World Championships).
As part of the Epic Series – a portfolio of premium mountain bike stage races – the Perskindol Swiss Epic is set as the European leg in which athletes may qualify for the Absa Cape Epic. Regardless of that – it’s a damn good race in its own right.
Perskindol Swiss Epic co-founder and mountain bike legend Thomas Frischknecht has seen a great many trails in his long career, “Back in the days as a pro racer and still now, Graubünden has always been my favourite region in the Alps. The vast mountain bike trail network is truly amazing!” Having spoken to Frischi about the Swiss Epic in 2016, he admitted that his favourite place to ride was in Graubünden – and with the canton attracting more and more mountain bike attention it’s clear that they are capitalising on the huge variety of trails on offer.
Reto Branschi, CEO of Graubünden Region, adds some insight into the region’s trail network, “In Graubünden we say we have been trail building in for centuries – with paths totalling over 17000km it obviously didn’t happen overnight! They’re all open for mountain biking, which is good news for riders, and also for the Perskindol Swiss Epic route designers! We are all very excited to be hosting Europe’s premier mountain bike stage race.”
So what else is new for the 2019 Perskindol Swiss Epic?
The date is new, being brought forward to 20-24 August and it’s another 5-day event like in 2018 as announced above. It seems the prologue is gone, or maybe the prologue remains with 4 stages afterwards. Either way, the shift to a 5-day event for 2018 remains. With 350km on the cards it remains to be seen what the stages will look like – but they will have plenty to choose from over the next 5 years, that remains certain.
And will the race remain with UCI status? The new date sits just one week before the XCO/DHI World Championships in Canada, which is about a 6hr time difference away. Recovering from a 5 day race and getting across to another continent for the biggest XCO race of the year seems hard. And while the Swiss Epic has often attracted the cream of the crop of current XCO stars – this move might detract from that. It could also eat into some of the participation of classic Swiss marathons like the Grand Raid and National Park Bike Marathon that are held in late August. But you know what? The Swiss Epic have just about guaranteed themselves better weather.