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One biker struggling up a sharp incline [Swiss Epic]

Continental Challengers to Swiss Epic Contest

By Epic Series, 08/19/19, 8:30AM HST


Elite riders from across Europe, and further afield, will gather in Davos to contest for victory in the 2019 Swiss Epic; which starts on 20 August.

A biker struggling up a steep incline

Elite riders from across Europe, and further afield, will gather in Davos to contest for victory in the 2019 Swiss Epic; which starts on 20 August.

Three bikers heading along the Swiss mountainside

The 2019 Swiss Epic’s elite men’s field boasts a stacked line-up of European mountain biking stars, with a touch of international talent added to ensure a captivating race. At the forefront of the favourites list is 2018 runner up, Konny Looser. The Swiss rider will have a local partner in his bid to win the title, but he will have to hold off the 2017 champions, Centurion Vaude, and the perennially dangerous Buff SCOTT team along with the powerful Italian Trek Selle San Marco quartet.

Looser will team up with Oliver Zurbrügg for this year’s race. Despite four Swiss Epic finishes to his name the BiXS Pro Team rider has yet to stand atop the final podium. That is a fact he will seek to rectify come the 24th of August, in Lenzerheide. In Zurbrügg he has a partner with the experience to challenge for victory, but Looser will be up against some of the world’s most experienced stage racers.


Few, if any, can boast the collective experience and outright speed of the Centurion Vaude squad. Daniel Geismayr is one of the finest stage race and marathon specialists in the world. In Vinzent Dorn he has a young, explosive, partner on the rise. Their team manager Alexa Hüni confirmed that the pair are highly motivated for the race in Graubünden. “After we had some really bad luck with injuries at the Absa Cape Epic this year, we are even more keen on repeating our victory from 2017” Hüni stated. “The Epic Series is an absolute highlight of our 2019 racing season and we are trying to compete successfully in as many races as possible.”


After missing the 2018 race, and the chance to defend the title he won alongside Jochen Käss, Geismayr is aiming to use the Swiss Epic to launch a late season drive for victories. “It fits very well into our schedule and will give us the ultimate sharpening of our form and fitness in preparation to the UCI XCM World Championships” Hüni explained. Before pointing out that the challenging route would provide the Centurion Vaude riders with ample opportunity to attack. “We will take any chance, whenever we sense one” she smiled.


If Geismayr and Dorn agitate the racing with aggressive tactics that will suit the powerful Buff SCOTT team. The Spanish squad’s build-up has not been trouble-free however. “We are really sad, as unfortunately, Luis Leao had a bad crash and he cannot attend the Swiss Epic that was one of his biggest focuses this year” Buff’s Sport’s Marketing Manager Gil Vilar pointed out. “Luis was training since April to be in Switzerland at his best shape. Firstly, we were coming with two great teams to be fighting for the top positions but after this bad incident for us, we can just come with one team. We can say that the couple, Francesc Guerra and Enrique Morcillo, are planning this race consciously and will do their best to improve the fourth position they got last year. There is no doubt that they will give everything to get their goal, to be in the podium; even though we know the high level of the professional teams that take part in this race. They finished in sixth position this year at the Absa Cape Epic and were really close to the top five, so there is no doubt about their strong level.”


The purpose-built mountain biking trails of the Graubünden canton will suit the Buff SCOTT team and but also the Devonbosch Stellenbosch team of Frans Claes and Soren Nissen. Claes’ well-travelled career has taken him to races around the world but the former Belgian marathon champion has a special love for the Swiss Alps. “Since the beginning of my career I was in love with the high mountains” he enthused. “It’s really wild nature above the 2 000 metre mark and the sceneries are extremely beautiful. The combination of the roughness from the mountains, the white from the snow and the fresh green from the alpine fields and the trees makes this a unique landscape for a mountain bike race.”


“It’s difficult to name one team” Claes continued, reflecting on the list of pre-race favourites. BiXS are riding on home trails and are always on a high level in the Swiss Epic. Centurion Vaude knows how to win the race and will be very motivated for another victory. Buff SCOTT have already a few years of experience in riding the Swiss Epic and the team runs very smoothly. Trek Selle San Marco showed they are a very high level this year and the riders are used to riding in the high mountains. As it will be our first race together Soren (Nissen) and I don’t see ourselves as candidates to win the race. Therefore, we need more ‘Swiss Epic experience’ and to spend more time together. The goal in this year’s Swiss Epic is to make progress in riding as a smooth-running team and hopefully we match well so we can do more Epic Series races together.”’


Claes’ highlighting of Trek Selle San Marco as a team to look out for comes from personal experience at the 2019 Absa Cape Epic. In the Untamed African MTB Race he saw how formidable the combination of Samuele Porro and Damiano Ferraro can be. “Our third place in the Absa Cape Epic was the result of hard training and great team work” Porro explained. Before pointing out that it has ensured that they will be starting the Swiss Epic with a target on their backs. “We know that our rivals will look at us with different eyes, but we will do our race, always trying to do our best.”


Unlike the majority of their rivals, Porro and Ferraro also have a support team to call upon. Traditionally the Italian squad has raced with two independent teams rather than designating one to race in support of the other, unless an unquestionable order has been set by the general classification results. Michele Casagrande and Fabian Rabensteiner thus come to Graubünden with aspirations for victory of their own. “All the team raced in the XCO Italian National Championship, then we moved to Livigno for training at altitude” Porro pointed out, suggesting that the entire squad is rearing to go.


Along with those five-star favourites, a number of dark horse teams will also be racing at the Swiss Epic. The combination most fitting of that title are Shaun-Nick Bester and Alexandre Vialle, of Darkhorse Wheels Pro Cycling. Severin Disch and Fabian Giger will be representing the Graubünden locals when they turn out in the colours of Davos Klosters. While Andrin Beeli and Kevin Kuhn will hope to continue the trend of young riders performing well at the Swiss Epic when they line-up for the SCOTT development MTB Team. jb BRUNEX / Fischer BMC’s Casey South and Noah Blöchlinger, along with Michael Stünzi and Marc Stutzmann of Team Texpa Simplon will also be riders to watch.

In conclusion, the 2019 Swiss Epic is preparing for a titanic tussle in the Alps. Mountain biking fans from around the world will be able to watch the action unfold online at