One of the winners of the inaugural Swiss Epic, Ariane Lüthi, will be returning to the race for the 6th time. This time racing alongside Belgium’s Alice Pirard.
Ariane Lüthi and Alice Pirard are among the most experienced teams in the 2020 Swiss Epic’s elite field. The Team Andermatt Spur combination have five and four finishes to their names respectively. Lüthi was also one of the race’s inaugural winners and the pair shared the podium in 2019, when Pirard finished second and Lüthi third, alongside their then partners.
Both riders have been racing at an elite level for over a decade. Despite that experience, the COVID-19 enforced stop to racing – and disruption of life in general – was an unexpected and challenging development. “The break from racing has further increased my motivation to compete” Lüthi was keen to emphasise. “Alice [Pirard] and I have already raced the Swiss Epic together, so we know how to approach this race as a team. This experience certainly gives us greater confidence. We know that pacing ourselves well is crucial in the Swiss Alps, in particular, and when racing at altitude, in general.”
“Most of all, I am really grateful that we’ll be able to race” Pirard added.” That is, at least, how it looks now! There are a lot of question marks, when you haven’t raced for so long. That said, we will enjoy the Swiss Epic to the fullest; because, who knows, it might be the only race we’re able to do in the 2020 season.”
As the COVID-19 situation continues to improve throughout Europe it looks increasingly likely that more events will be able to take place. That aside, as marathon and stage race specialists the five-stage race in Switzerland’s largest canton remains a priority for Lüthi and Pirard. “The Swiss Epic will be a big goal for Alice and me” the reigning Swiss marathon champion confirmed. “We will come prepared to compete at our best.”
“Although we’ll come to Graubünden with great ambitions, there are too many uncontrollable variables to say that we are aiming for a certain result” Lüthi continued. “Therefore, no matter the race, it is always wise to aim for our best personal performance rather than a result.”
While they will be focusing on performances and hoping the results follow, Team Andermatt Spur’s riders will also be enjoying the fantastic hospitality of the Swiss Epic. “It’s one of the absolute best stage races” Pirard enthused. “The general form of the race stays the same year-on-year, but the route changes for every edition. We get to race long climbs and breathtaking downhills; both with incredible views of the Swiss Alps. It’s those views that bring me back every year!”
“The route and the organisation of the event have always been great” Lüthi stated. “Stefan [Wolfisberg], the route designer of the Swiss Epic knows how to put a smile on our faces. The trails we take down the mountains are absolutely epic. The Swiss Epic really takes the progression of the sport into account, while some other races still feature way too many boring gravel road descents.”
“Apart from the route, the Swiss Epic has been progressive in terms of media exposure and gender equality as well” Lüthi praised. “They try and cover the categories equally and offer equal prize money to the Elite Women and Men. The Swiss Epic even goes as far as having a non-drafting rule between the gender categories, which makes the racing fairer. This is still a rarity in marathon and stage races unfortunately. The next step will be that the women get a separate start, but from what I’ve heard, that could be implemented at the Swiss Epic this year.”
To watch Ariane Luthi, Alice Pirard and their fellow elite women race the Swiss Epic visit our website. The race gets underway in Laax, on Tuesday the 18th of August, and finishes in Davos, on the 22nd.