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The Ultimate Alpine Challenge Awaits in Graubünden

By Epic Series, 03/03/20, 5:30AM HST


The 2020 Swiss Epic will take in 333 breath-taking alpine kilometres of mountain bike racing and the very best of Swiss hospitality in Graubünden; as it traverses the Alps, from Laax to Arosa and on to Davos

The 2020 Swiss Epic will take in 333 breath-taking alpine kilometres of mountain bike racing and the very best of Swiss hospitality in Graubünden; as it traverses the Alps, from Laax to Arosa and on to Davos.

The 2020 Swiss Epic is the European leg of the Epic Series and proudly showcases the best of Graubünden’s world-class trails. From purpose-built mountain biking singletrack to rugged natural trails, across high mountain ridgelines, the route challenges and rewards throughout the five stages. The host towns of Laax, Arosa and Davos are reknown worldwide for their vast sports offerings and hospitality; the route features 3 circular loop stages and 2 transition days.

In total, the 2020 race will take in 333 kilometres of racing, including 12 850 metres of climbing. By Epic Series standards the daily distances are short, but the metres of elevation gained and the high altitudes above sea level ensure they are intense. This will provide a platform for exhilarating racing; ensuring the strongest teams emerge victorious.

Stage 1

Laax >> Laax
Tuesday, 18 August 2020
Distance: 64km
Climbing: 2 600m
Descending: 2 600m
Water Points: 15km, 28km & 50km

Stage 1 opens with a climb that serves as a warm-up for the long ascent to the Crap Sogn Gion and Crap Masegn ski stations. After passing the latter, only a brief climb remains before teams reach the highest point of the stage; at 2 456 metres above sea level. From the summit, a natural trail leads towards Alp Sogn Martin and past the spectacular Vorab glacier. A climb to the Segnas Plateau follows, where a smooth trail offers incredible views of the Tectonic Arena Sardona, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its legendary Martin’s Hole and the Tschingelhörner range of peaks. The flowing Runcatrail then provides the teams with a sensational descent. At the end of the descent, Lake Cresta and its crystal-clear waters await; followed by the turquoise Lake Cauma, the jewel of Flims. A brief final climb ensures the opening stage ends, like all others at the Swiss Epic, with a thrilling downhill that rewards all teams for completing Stage 1.

Stage 2

Laax >> Arosa
Wednesday, 19 August 2020
Distance: 74km
Climbing: 2 700m
Descending: 2 100m
Water Points: 28km, 51km & 59km

The first transition stage of the 2020 Swiss Epic takes riders 74 kilometres from Laax to Arosa, in the Schanfigg Valley. As Laax is located at 1 000 metres above sea level and Arosa is situated at nearly 1 800 metres; the stage is backloaded with climbing. With the majority of the stage’s 2 700 metres of climbing coming in the final 25 kilometres, teams are advised to make the most of the first 50 kilometres; especially as the day starts by tracing the upper reaches of the famous Rhine Gorge, to Reichenau. Known as the Swiss Grand Canyon, Rhine Gorge is a summer sports enthusiast’s playground. Boasting sheer white cliffs and rich forests, the Rhine Gorge is rugged; hewn by the raging river over millions of years. The route then loops into the Domleschg valley, following the Hinterrhein river; a tributary of the mighty Rhine. Flowing contour trails lead out of the Domleschg and past Graubünden’s capital city, Chur. Beyond Chur, the stage’s climbing begins in earnest and teams will ascend past charming Swiss villages, like Tschiertschen; which marks 10-kilometres to the summit. The highest point of the day, Rot Tritt at 2 007 metres above sea level, comes just 5 kilometres from the finish in Arosa; getting there requires skirting the shores of the lakes Prätsch and traversing the Maran Plateau before descending to the stage’s finish line.

Stage 3

Arosa >> Arosa
Thursday, 20 August 2020
Distance: 59km
Climbing: 2 500m
Descending: 2 500m
Water Points: 20km, 35km & 44km

Stage 3 is made up of three loops from the race village in Arosa and is, arguably, the most spectator friendly day of the race, allowing fans multiple chances to cheer on their favourite teams. The stage begins by looping north from Arosa. The following two loops take in the trails to the north east and south west of the town. It is the shortest stage of the race, but it is by no means easy as it takes in a total of 2 500 metres of climbing in just 59 kilometres, including a climb to 2 614 metres above sea level. The stage is not purely climbing, though, and packs highlights into the relatively short distance too. Riders will be rewarded with a descent on the Hörnli Trail, one of Europe’s longest purpose-built mountain biking tracks. Other standout features of the day are the charming Walser village Medergen; passing the Arosa Bear Sanctuary; the view from Gredigs Fürggli, the highest point of the race; and descending towards the beautiful Älplisee.

Stage 4

Arosa >> Davos
Friday, 21 August 2020
Distance: 76km
Climbing: 2 800m
Descending: 3 000m
Water Points: 27km 41km & 58km

The Queen Stage of the 2020 Swiss Epic is the second transition day. It takes the teams from Arosa to Davos, and at 76 kilometres long, with 2 800 metres of climbing, it is expected to be the toughest stage of the race. On the climb out of Arosa, the teams will be bid farewell by the sanctuary’s bears and after climbing to over 2 000 metres above sea level, treated to another stretch of the famous Hörnli Trail. The race drops towards Langwies, from where the climb up to the Durannapass leads the teams back over 2 100 meters once more and along the shores of the picturesque Lake Grüen, before starting its descent to Klosters. Usually famed as winter sports destinations, these valleys will be at their lush summer-best in August. From Klosters the route climbs towards Davos, then turns for a final climb into the Flüela Valley. The reward for surmounting the Queen Stage’s climbing is a spectacular flowing singletrack back down the Flüela Valley; it takes the teams nearly all the way to the finish line in Davos.

Stage 5

Davos >> Davos
Saturday, 22 August 2020
Distance: 60km
Climbing: 2 250m
Descending: 2 250m
Water Points: 11km, 31km & 45km

The final stage of the 2020 Swiss Epic wraps up the race in perfect style. Utilising many of the famous Singletrail-Paradise Davos routes, the last stage provides a day to remember. The aptly named Panorama Trail delivers breath-taking views over Davos, and the valley the town is situated in. It requires climbing to reach its highest point, 2 321 metres above sea level. Along with the views and the exceptional riding, the long singletrack rewards teams with the descent to Gotschnaboden. Rooty, forest trails then lead to the Wolfgang Pass. A descent back into Davos provides spectators with the chance to encourage the teams for the final two challenges – the ascent of the Sertig Valley and the Ischalp. From the highest point of the Ischalp Trail the final 10 kilometres are almost all downhill. For the teams contesting stage or overall honours, this creates the possibility of a sprint finish. While for the other teams it allows for a moment of reflection and a chance for the wonders of Graubünden and the Swiss Epic to sink in.

The celebrations on the Swiss Epic finish line are sure to be immense as teams from across the globe rejoice in the achievement of completing the Epic Series race. While all finishers receive a medal that commemorates their performance, a handful of riders receive the coveted Epic Legend medal which honours them as having completed the Absa Cape Epic, The Pioneer, fuelled by Nutri-Grain, and the Swiss Epic. A select few will be revelling in the fact that their efforts on Graubünden’s incredible trails have earned them the opportunity to race The Untamed African MTB Race alongside the sport’s elite, in March 2021. Do you have what it takes to face the ultimate Alpine Challenge?

Two bikers biting their medals