Courtesy of quattro media
SWISS EPIC 2018 Final
It was a classic scene at the start of the Grand Finale in Zermatt, to anyone who’s ridden a mountain bike stage race before. There was a familiar air of excitement among riders, fans and crew in the race village – the week of racing was coming to a close. However, experienced campaigners are well aware of the dangers of letting their guard down until they reach the finish line, so the good-cheer was mixed in with some trepidation.
Team USA Red held the morning’s good morale all the way till the end, taking the final stage. “It’s an amazing feeling to win the final stage here. We’re super stoked!” said a delighted Keegan Swenson. In the women’s field, the skies cleared and Team Canada turned out another super performance, taking their third stage win of the week. “We had an awesome ride today and we can see the Matterhorn – it gave us extra motivation!” said Pendrel, Olympic medallist and two-time world champion.
It was do or die on the descent. With Team USA Red up ahead, Scott-SRAM and Team BiXS set off after them, chasing a second stage win. Looser and Stauffer had more at stake – second overall was under threat with the charging Swenson and Blevins. “We went all-in to save second on GC – if we had a flat we would get third anyway, but if we did not go all-in, we would also get third,” said Looser, current Swiss marathon champion. Despite the determined efforts of Scott-SRAM and Team BiXS, Swenson and Blevins held on to their slender lead on the descent, taking the last right hand bend in style. A minute and a half back, Matthias Stirnemann and Andri Frischknecht arrived in the race village, knowing they’d done enough to win the overall title.
A definitive show of force: Catharine Pendrel and Haley Smith crossed the line over 6 minutes ahead of Terpstra and Benko. Team BikeFreak-Magazine – Merida-Scott’s Alice Pirard and Cornelia Hug managed to score their first podium of the week. Kathrin Stirnemann and Alessandra Keller secured third place in the overall rankings.
Results Stage 5
1. Christopher Blevins / Keegan Swenson (USA – Team USA Red) – 2:47.44,6
2. Matthias Stirnemann / Andri Frischknecht (SUI – Scott-SRAM MTB Racing) +1.31,8
3. Hansueli Stauffer / Konny Looser (SUI – BiXS Pro Team) +2.33,9
1. Haley Smith / Catharine Pendrel (CAN – Team Canada) – 3:33.48,6
2. Barbara Benko / Anne Terpstra (HUN / NED – GHOST FACTORY RACING) +6.05,8
3. Alice Pirard / Cornelia Hug (BEL / SUI – BikeFreak-Magazine – Merida-Scott) +10.40,6
Final overall general classification
1. Matthias Stirnemann / Andri Frischknecht (SUI – Scott-SRAM MTB Racing) 16:56.25,8
2. Hansueli Stauffer / Konny Looser (SUI – BiXS Pro Team) +16.09,2
3. Christopher Blevins / Keegan Swenson (USA – Team USA Red) +18.47,4
1. Haley Smith / Catharine Pendrel (CAN – Team Canada) 21:03.47,8
2. Barbara Benko / Anne Terpstra (HUN / NED – GHOST FACTORY RACING) +42.48,7
3. Kathrin Stirnemann / Alessandra Keller (SUI – Thömus / RN Racing Team) +45.19,7
1. stage: Bettmeralp – Bettmeralp (60km)
2. stage: Bettmeralp – Grächen (72km)
3. stage: Grächen – Grächen (66km)
4. stage: Grächen – Zermatt (61km)
5. stage: Zermatt – Zermatt (63km)