The Swiss Epic is the European cousin in the global Epic Series, and under that larger umbrella it has taken a slightly different shape. The Flow category is gone, and the 6 day race is now 5 days, with no opening prologue. But while those changes were already in effect in 2018, the big change in 2019 is a shift to Graubuenden in the east of Switzerland.
Here at MarathonMTB.com we have a soft spot for Graubuenden. From long training days for some of our team riders, or racing the Engadin Bike Giro, The 2018 XCO World Championships in Lenzerheide or staying in Scuol for the Nationalpark Bike Marathon and of course the spa treatments – the eastern side of Switzerland is a favourite place to ride, race and relax.
The 2019 Swiss Epic route starts and finishes in Davos, but not without visiting some iconic Swiss mountain bike destinations and challenging trails first.
Day one in Davos sends riders onto the Alps Epic Trail, one of a handful of IMBA rated ‘Epic’ trails outside of the US. Funnily enough, one of the others is only about 100km away – the Bernina Express. But that’s not the train line you’ll be near, as the trail then goes under the Landwasser Viaduct and starts the climb over the Albula Pass and down to St Moritz, a haunt for the rich and famous but also home to over 400km of trails!
With a start and finish in St Moritz, this stage keeps the biggest climbs for the end of the day, and includes the Fopettas Trail. Don’t be fooled, the climbing early on still counts, but do make time to look at the views of some of the highest peaks in Switzerland.
It’s time to pack up and leave, but while the race takes your gear, you and your partner need to make your way to Lenzerheide. You go back over the Albula Pass and descend to Filisur. This feels like an epic descent in a car, so no doubt it will be a really rewarding descent on a bike, as you descend through a variety of terrain from top to bottom. Then it’s time to climb to Lenzerheide, as you stretch around the side of the valley to get onto the plateau, through the forests and villages and finishing along parts of the XCO World Championship course – right where a World Cup will have been held earlier in August.
The tour of Lenzerheide! This place is known for its mountain biking, and really lead the way in purpose made trails for this side of Switzerland. This route matches one big climb on either side of the valley, mixes in some panorama trail, a high alpine trail and a bike park descent, to leave you with the perfect sample of what Lenzerheide has to offer.
The final stage takes you back to Davos. Launching down a spruce filled valley and towards the Landwasser Viaduct, make sure you are ready for lots of small climbs that add up to one big climb. There’s plenty of trail on the way back up, and then descend down the Sertig valley and into Davos, where the finish line awaits.
What we think of the Swiss Epic route in 2019
Make no mistake, Switzerland is hard to beat for scenery and service. While some can say the Swiss experience is too sterile, it also works and everything is stunningly beautiful when you’re up in the mountains. And in part, that relates to the course as well. There are no days that scream out that they might be impossible to complete, but there are no days that don’t look like a challenge or a whole lot of fun.
The 2019 Swiss Epic route looks like it will suit the 5-day format, condensing some great riding in Graubuenden into this stage race, and leaving so much for the coming years as well. While the 2019 edition is sold out, you can be sure that this route will set the bar for 2020 and beyond.