The all-Swiss Goldwurst Power-Infinity and Swiss/South African Gabriel Technologie teams won the opening stage of the five-day Swiss Epic. The 62-kilometre route, which started and finished in St. Moritz, was packed with incredible singletracks and rewarded the most technically adept teams. This played perfectly to the strengths of Nicola Rohrbach and Lukas Flückiger, as well as Ariane Lüthi and Robyn de Groot.
The opening stage of the 2021 Swiss Epic, in Graubünden, was won by the Goldwurst Power-Infinity and Gabriel Technologie, in St. Moritz on Tuesday, 17 August. Nicola Rohrbach and Lukas Flückiger outmanoeuvred Trek-Pirelli’s Samuele Porro and Fabian Rabensteiner to claim the first men’s leader jerseys of the race. While Ariane Lüthi and Robyn de Groot rode a controlled pace throughout the 62-kilometre-long stage to take the top step of the women’s podium on the day.
Despite founding winter sports tourism, in the 1860s, St. Moritz has remarkably good weather, boasting an average of 300 days of sunshine a year. So, while registration for the Swiss Epic took place under cloud cover on Monday, race day saw a return of clear skies. The 275 teams taking part in the event made the most of the perfect weather and greatly enjoyed their day out on the trails.
None more so than the stage winners, Rohrbach and Flückiger. The Swiss pair proved that fun is fast and led throughout the day. Initially they were joined by an elite group which also included the Showpad-Soudal, KTM Brenta Brakes, Buff Scott MTB Racing and SCOTT Development teams, as well as Trek-Pirelli. The ascent to 2 550 metres above sea level, at Lej Alv, could not shake up the leading group of six teams, but the descent that followed did.
Italian marathon champion Porro lead into the FOCUSWATER Flow Section, on the Corviglia Flow Trail, and used his technical skills to distance all but his partner Rabensteiner and the Goldwurst Power-Infinity team. The Italian and Swiss teams then worked together, for the remaining 17-kilometres to extend their advantage over the chasing pack. Only in the final singletrack did Rohrbach and Flückiger eke out the narrowest of advantages.
The pair crossed the finish line just 6 seconds ahead of Porro and Rabensteiner, after 3 hours, 11 minutes and 22 seconds of racing. Frans Claes and Daniele Mensi, of Showpad-Soudal, completed the stage podium. The Belgian/Italian combination were 1 minute and 2 seconds down on the stage winners.
In the women’s race Lüthi and De Groot used the day’s long climbs and technical descents to gradually build a commanding lead. Without direct pressure from their nearest rivals, the Davos Klosters Women, for much of the stage the Gabriel Technologie pair had to focus on riding at their own tempo. This did not mean they took it easy, by any means, however.
As a six-time Swiss Epic finisher Lüthi knows all too well how quickly advantages can disappear on the trails of Graubünden. The 3 minute and 25 second lead they take, over Adelheid Morath and Angelika Tazreiter, into Stage 2 is anything but secure. Even the Olympia – Rdr Italy Team, of Costanza Fasolis and Claudia Peretti, who finished 5 minutes and 38 seconds back are still very much in the running for the women’s leader jerseys over the next four stages.
Stage 2 provides ample opportunities for the leads to change hands. Though, arguably, the descent dominated course will once again suit the Stage 1 winners best. The 61-kilometre course features 2 650-metres of descending as it drops from St. Moritz, at 1 600 metres above sea level, to Valposchiavo, at 1 000 metres. It does ,however, still cimb to 2 328 metres above sea level too, as it crosses the Passo del Bernina.
Results: Swiss Epic, in Graubünden
Stage 1 | Elite Men
1. Goldwurst Power-Infinity: Nicola Rohrbach and Lukas Flückiger (3:11:22)
2. Trek-Pirelli: Samuele Porro and Fabian Rabensteiner (3:11:28 | +6)
3. Showpad-Soudal: Frans Claes and Daniele Mensi (3:12:24 | +1:02)
4. KTM Brenta Brakes: Nicolas and Lorenzo Samparisi (3:14:45 | +3:23)
5. Buff Scott MTB Racing: Hans Becking and Francesc Guerra Carretero (3:15:17 | +3:55)
Stage 1 | Elite Women
1. Gabriel Technologie: Ariane Lüthi and Robyn de Groot (3:58:55)
2. Davos Klosters Women: Adelheid Morath and Angelika Tazreiter (4:02:20 | +3:25)
3. Olympia – Rdr Italy Team: Costanza Fasolis and Claudia Peretti (4:04:33 | +5:38)
4. EG – Lapierre: Vera Looser and Chiara Beer (4:09:51 | +10:56)
5. MTB Pro Merchandising: Alice Pirard and Greete Steinburg (4:17:20 | +18:25)
To view the full results from the 2021 Swiss Epic, in Graubünden, click here.