The 2021 Swiss Epic briefly visits Valposchiavo, on Stage 2. Crossing the Bernina Pass the race leaves the Upper Engadin valley and enters the Italian speaking valley of Poschiavo. Sparsely populated and low lying, the villages of Valposchiavo are too small to accommodate all the Swiss Epic teams; yet they are perfect for a pre- or post-event holiday.
The glamour of St. Moritz and the relative bustle of Davos are not everyone’s idea of a perfect alpine holiday. For those looking for something quieter, more rural, Valposchiavo is the ideal destination. It hosts the final 35-kilometres of Stage 2, as well as the stage finish, but due to the size of villages the Swiss Epic riders will be shuttled back across the Bernina Pass to St. Moritz for the night.
After a hint of what the region has to offer many riders will be intrigued and may well wish to return to Valposchiavo. This is a forewarning then; the valley is worth exploring! Arrive early and acclimatise to the Alpine altitude at lower elevations or stay on after the race and explore this quiet corner of Graubünden.
Unlike St. Moritz and Davos, which are situated at 1 820- and 1 560-metres above sea level respectively, Valposchiavo’s villages are situated far lower. La Prese, where Stage 2 concludes, is just 965-metres above sea level while the valley’s largest town, Poschiavo, is located at 1 014-metres. This makes them more suitable locations for people unaccustomed to Graubünden’s high elevations to ease into exercising at altitude.
Pre-race visitors can base themselves lower down in the valley and then ascend into the high mountains, on training rides, to acclimatise. Students of exercise physiology will know that one needs at least two weeks to gain any adaptation benefits from altitude training, but there is undoubtedly an advantage in having experience of what to expect mountain biking in Graubünden.
The region’s blend of purpose-built mountain biking trails, dual use hiking and MTB paths, as well as the famed natural trails ensure the riding is diverse and challenging. That paired with the altitude means first-time visitors can be overwhelmed by the riding experience. Getting to grips with the elements, outside of the race is thus a great way to prepare for the Swiss Epic.
In Valposchiavo the Vivabike routes network provides a vast source of trails to explore. The network offers maps, route descriptions and GPX/KLM file downloads to help visitors find and ride the best routes for their skill and fitness levels. Another option is to book a “Bike. Bike? Bike!” tour which includes two night’s accommodation and three days of riding. It’s the perfect way to get into the rhythm of riding in Graubünden.
Off the bike Valposchiavo has lots to offer too. Hiking, horse riding and paragliding are but three of the popular options in the valley. While less strenuous activities include visiting the Glacier Garden, the Bernina Glaciers or the Camera Obscura at the foot of the Bernina Pass.
Due to the fact that riders will be transported back from La Prese, after Stage 2, by bus it is highly recommended that you make the journey via the Rhaetian Railway’s UNESCO World Heritage Albula-Bernina line. Catching the historic train will allow you to cross the highest train track in the Alps and witness the architectural masterpieces of the many viaducts and marvel at the alpine scenery. The Rhaetian Railway can be caught into Valposchiavo from Chur or St. Moritz, making it easy for Swiss Epic entrants to reach the relatively remote valley.
For more information on what to do in Valposchiavo and how to get there, before or after the 2021 Swiss Epic, visit www.valposchiavo.ch.