Kristian Hynek and Martin Stošek timed their attack to perfection, climbing away from the rest of the leading group, inside the final 10 kilometres of Stage 2. For Future Cycling Northwave the move led to a Swiss Epic stage victory; but they could not do enough to unseat the race leaders, SCOTT-SRAM.
The second stage of the 2020 Swiss Epic took the teams from Laax, in an easterly direction, to Arosa; on Wednesday, 19 August. It was a day backloaded with climbing, which suited the strengths of the Czech pair, Kristian Hynek and Martin Stošek. The Future Cycling Northwave team claimed the stage honours and moved up one general classification position in the process. SCOTT-SRAM, however, did enough to extend their overall advantage over the rest of the Elite men’s field.
Nino Schurter and Lars Forster started the stage like a team knowing they would be put on the defensive later in the day. The SCOTT-SRAM riders roared from the blocks, quickly establishing a 1-minute lead. In a unique turn of events, they were joined by Simon Andreassen, of Specialized Racing. The young Dane shadowed the leaders for much of the stage; wracking up time penalties and a warning from the race officials for exceeding the 2-minute separation rule, which should have kept him closer to his partner Jaroslav Kulhavý.
A large chase group formed behind Schurter and Forster; led in turns by Centurion Vaude, Future Cycling Northwave, BMC Fischer and the BULLS Heroes. Through collaboration, they were able to keep the deficit manageable and eventually reel SCOTT-SRAM in before the foot of the day’s major climb.
Passing Service Station 2, at the 51-kilometre mark, four teams were in direct contention for stage honours. They were Centurion Vaude, SCOTT-SRAM, Future Cycling Northwave and BULLS Heroes. The BULLS Youngsters and Maloja Pushbikers were 30 seconds off the pace, while Trek Pirelli 1 was a further 8 seconds back.
On the 20-kilometre-long climb, that gained 1 000 metres from Chur to Rot Tritt, Daniel Geismayr initially set the pace. The Austrian’s efforts looked to be putting pressure on Forster in particular, but the Swiss rider resolutely clung to Ben Zwiehoff’s wheel.
The non-technical nature of the descent from Rot Tritt to Arosa aided Hynek and Stošek. The Czech team maintained the advantage, which they held at the summit, over SCOTT-SRAM and Centurion Vaude. “Sure, after yesterday when we were very frustrated, it feels good to win today” Hynek confessed, after crossing the finish line. “Yesterday we were feeling good on the climbs but lost minutes and minutes in the technical downhills. Today was much, much, better. We expected the scenario of how the stage unfolded. And being able to plan for it paid off.”
Future Cycling Northwave’s winning time of 3 hours, 17 minutes and 3 seconds was 36 seconds faster than SCOTT-SRAM’s time. Centurion Vaude was third, 44 seconds down on the stage winners. The BULLS Heroes and Trek Pirelli 1 rounded out the top 5. The stage results mean that, after 2 days of racing in Graubünden, Schurter and Forster lead the race by 1 minute and 33 seconds. Geismayr and Zwiehoff are second, for Centurion Vaude, while Trek Pirelli are third, 5 minutes and 32 seconds down.
On Thursday, the teams are treated to a short, action-packed, stage which starts and finishes in Arosa. In just 50 kilometres the route takes in 1 900 metres of climbing. The course is one that should suit SCOTT-SRAM better than their rivals, as it is packed with singletrack descents; though, the Hörnli Trail and the other purpose-built mountain bike flow trails should nullify that advantage somewhat. It is in the natural trails, trodden in the alpine slopes by the hooves of Swiss cattle, that Schurter and Forster have proved truly peerless.
2020 Swiss Epic Results
Stage 2 Results:
General Classification after Stage 2