The Quest for Epic Legend Status in the Swiss Alps – Part 1

The 2019 Swiss Epic kicked off at 07:30 on Tuesday 20 August, in torrential rain, that turned the already challenging trails into a muddy slop that ensured even the most seasoned professionals got their money’s worth.

287 teams of two riders travelled from all corners of the globe to compete in this magnificent race that takes in some of the Graubünden region’s famed mountain bike trails.

In amongst those 287 teams are 12 potential Epic Legends. Epic Legends are individuals who have completed all three week-long races in the Epic Series, namely the Absa Cape Epic, the Pioneer, fuelled by Nutri-Grain in New Zealand, and the Swiss Epic. These 12 individuals all have the medal within their grasp and a tale of why and how they have gone about their quest so far; these are a few of their stories:

Antonio Faundez is from Switzerland and it is rather fitting that he has the opportunity to claim Legend Status in his home land. Antonio first ventured to South Africa in 2017 to participate in the Absa Cape Epic and it still holds a very sentimental place in his heart, “I love the Cape Epic. The size and the whole vibe in the race and the village; especially that I can ride with the best mountain bikers in the world on the same route!”

Upon completion of today’s wet and muddy stage, Antonio laughed, “Today’s stage felt like I was at The Pioneer again with wet weather, clouds and climbing it was awesome! I really hope I finish and can get my medal!” Antonio’s partner, Alex Kruger, has completed 10 Absa Cape Epics and says that someday he may make it to New Zealand to tackle the Pioneer – one thing’s for sure, Antonio and Alex sure have enough experience to put up a good fight, no matter the challenges ahead.

Alex and Antonio after Stage 1 of the 2019 Swiss Epic

Benjamin Ramirez and his partner Aldean Philip travelled over 10 000 kilometres from the Philippines with their girlfriends and mothers in tow as the trusted support crew. The team, who were a far cry away from the usual terrain that they ride in, finished today’s stage full of smiles, “We are having so much fun riding; the trails are flowy, but this is really cold for us coming from the Philippines!”.

Benjamin is set to receive his Epic Legend medal and status should he and Aldean cross the finish line in Davos in four days’ time. Benjamin receiving his medal will also be a huge stepping stone for Aldean, as all that will be left for him to do to claim his Epic Legend medal, is complete the 2020 Absa Cape Epic – for which they are already registered!

All the way from the Philippines, Aldean and Benjamin experienced some new conditions during Stage 1 of the 2019 Swiss Epic.

There are two current Epic Legends participating, Timothy Hammond, riding for DEVMCO Umhlanga Arch SPOT Africa became an Epic Legend when he took on New Zealand’s backcountry during the 2018 Pioneer, Fuelled by Nutri-Grain. Today’s muddy Alpine challenge had Timothy in the corner: “Today was cool, the trails were a lot of fun in the wet. I suffered a bit, but I think I’ve blown out the cobwebs with this really tough stage. The scenery was just spectacular – the old railway bridges, big pine forests and the long tunnel were all really cool features. Weather wise, it can only get better!”

Alexander Donaldson, from New Zealand, is no stranger to the current weather conditions being experienced in Davos. He became an Epic Legend at the 2018 Absa Cape Epic and is participating in the Swiss Epic for the second time. “I live and work in London and absolutely had to come over and experience the new route in Graubünden this year! It is fantastic and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for us throughout the remainder of the week.”

We’ll catch up with a few of the possible Epic Legends each day, so be sure to stay tuned.