The Swiss Epic’s second stage presented us with a grand tour of St Moritz, the iconic ski town of luxury shops and private jets. So it was kindof a shame to see two hundred bikers tramp through reception in filthy gear yesterday and pretty much ruin the carpet at our lovely hotel, but nobody seemed to mind.
Every Swiss Epic hotel has gone out of its way to make riders comfortable. Our race bags are delivered to our door when we arrive, and we’ve been served banquet-style meals of helathy food and received genuine hospitality for our bikes and luggage. The full-service experience extends to every aspect of the race, from the organised feedzones to the recovery stations at the finish line, where a nice local approaches you and relieves you of your filthy bike, which turns up later, sparkling clean, in the secure bike park. Everything is taken care of, which makes racing that much more fun.
Today’s Swiss Epic Stage 2
St Moritz is one of those places that looks like heaven from any angle, and today’s tour of the golden town allowed us to take in the full 360 degrees of the lake and the grand 19th Century hotels that line its banks, as well as the beautiful town of Pontresina and other chocolate box villages of the Engadine Valley. Take a look at the route below:
Today’s 69km took in 2,250m of climbing. Today we topped out on the rocky moonscape trail of the Laj Alv at the Swiss Epic’s high point: 2,543m, before descending the epic (and steep) WM Flow trail. The climb up to this high point dwarfs some of the earlier climbs which, after yesterday’s rain and overnight thunderstorms, were pretty heavy going.
MarathonMTB.com team’s Swiss Epic Stage 2
After a surprise win yesterday we were happy to see what today would dish up, with the plan of going pretty hard to the start of the big climb then emptying the tank. We’re pretty familiar with these trails, having been riding here in St Moritz for a week before the race, and knew that once we reached the stage’s high point, it was pretty much a freewheel to the end, with maybe five kilometres of undulating forest road before the finish line.
There was a bit of confusion at the start about which start block we were meant to be in. We’d entered start block B, but were called up to start block A at the very last minute – a little unexpected, but it meant we were the only mixed team in our start group. This ended up taking the pressure off us considerably, meaning we were just racing the clock and for good men’s teams’ wheels, rather than bar to bar with our category.
Mike and I did pretty well executing our plan of having a good start but I flagged a bit on long, soggy grass sections and our team harmony definitely wavered occasionally, probably just because we’re already starting to get tired. We tagged onto some great wheels for a long, slightly downhill bike path section and were ejected into the climb, a long forest trail that eventually turned into really muddy, steep, rocky singletrack the higher we went.
After a bit of hike a bike and a very painful, paralysing incident with an electric gate that I’m really glad didn’t kill me (don’t touch them!) we made it to a fabulous flowy descent before passing through Marguns and the final few kilometres of serious climbing before the amazing WM flow trail, where I experienced that true transcendental flow that comes when you really, really deserve an epic descent and your bike and body become one with the trail – in spite of everything.
That done it was a traverse, forcing gels into nauseous, churning stomachs, and the wonderful Foppettas Flow Trail. After this I chugged a final gel, thinking we had about 10 kilometres to go, but last night the route had been shortened, and no sooner had I downed the gel than we spied the 1 kilometre to go sign, and a few tight corners later it was all over. We won the stage, but the sensations weren’t as strong today – I suppose that when you’re riding at 2,500m, you can’t expect to be dropping sea-level watt bombs, but still, I felt slow! We will see what tomorrow brings.
The front of the race
The two Trek Selle San Marco teams continue to dominate the men’s event, with team A crossing the line for the win ahead of Texpa Simplon, while Team jb BRUNEX/Fischer came in third, with the other Trek Selle San Marco team in 4th, just a few minutes behind. The overall placings remain unchanged.
The women’s field experienced a bit of a shift, with the KS Trek team of Adelheid Morath and Bettina Janas storming up the final climb to finish first, followed by the Shimano S-Phyre girls Corina Gantenbein and Kathrin Stirnemann, who with a six-minute lead on GC were comfortable riding their own pace. Centurion Vaude 2 of Alice Pirard and Stefanie Dohrn came in third. Full results and up-to-the minute GC standings are all available on the Epic Series app or the Swiss Epic website