Thanks to Zermatt-Tourism we were able to start for free at the Perskindol Swiss-Epic 2018. The marathon multi stage race over 322km and 12500m of climbing was very tough. Nevertheless we really enjoyed the beautiful scenery in the alps and the magnificent mtb trails!
Simon and I took part in a video competition of Zermatt Tourism. The price was a free start slot fort he Perskindol Swiss Epic, and we won it! You can find the video here.
So we travelled to Bettmeralp on Monday, to get the accreditation done and to receive and the information of the first riders briefing. On Tuesday, the first stage consisting of 63km and 2700m of climbing was on the schedule. The start and the finish was in Bettmeralp, the route took us to Riederalp and Fiesch (with a Loop there) and after Lax the final climb of 1200m was awaiting us. We felt very strong and finished with a time of 3:52:32.4, which resulted in a nice ?? place. The track was far more steep and difficult to ride than we expected, I struggeled a lot on my race hardtail without dropper post. Unfortunately I broke a spoke before we were even halfway through the stage. Luckily the broken spoke didn’t damage the rim tape and the wheel was still round enough to not the frame while rotating. I could finish the stage without any additional difficulties, the wheel held on until the finish of stage 1! Afterwards I was quite busy with organising a spare wheel and spare spokes. In the end I had to use the spare wheel for stage 2, but the tech support could fix the wheel during the day so I was able to use my carbon wheel again for stage 3.
Stage was the first transition stage, taking us from Bettmeralp via Visp to Grächen. It was also the longest stage (regarding only the distance) with 77km and 2700m of climbing. In the first descent down to the main valley of Valais, we overtook a lot of UCI-Pro-Teams which started 7min ahead of us but had a flat tire. We managed to get through the second stage without any mechanical problems. But in the final climb up to Grächen I was struggling a lot. My legs felt empty and I felt tired. Luckily it was all on a paved road and Simon helped me a few times (I hanged on his shoulder). Like that we could keep the damage small and finished with a time of 4:35:50.5 in the 20th place overall.
In the 3rd stage, which went from Grächen via Zeneggen and Moosalp back to Grächen, I already felt a lot better. Unfortunately Simon had a flat rear tire after the first descent. We needed about 3min to get a tube in and we were back on track. Afterwards the race track consisted of trails which were easier to ride than the ones of the past stages, and many long paved road climbs. Somehow this doesn’t seem to fit us very well, the 23rd rank was the worst result of the whole week. Anyway, we were happy to get to the finish line with a time of 4:19:18.6. In our category open men we were the fastest non-UCI-Pro-Team in each stage!
The 4th stage lead us to Zermatt. The profile promised some steep uphills, an endless descent on the brand new (and not yet officially opened) Sunnegga Flowtrail and some very steep climbs towards the end of the stage. My legs performed well and we were able to get the 63km and 2250m of climbing done in just 4:06:41.9, which got us on the 18th spot of stage 4.
The 5th and last stage was with 57km and 2050m of climbing the shortest stage of the week. We weren’t very sad about the “short” distance, as we felt very exhausted after the efforts of the last few days. There was on long climb of about 1200m (with a short descent after about half of the climb). We reached the Fluhalp which was with 2606m above sea level the highest point of the week. After Fluhalp, there was a very long descent on magnificent trails. Some were technical and steep, some fast ridable and rather flat. There was only on last climb of about 150 vertical meters to be done before we successfully finished the 2018 Perskindol Swiss Epic! We needed 3:18:32.4 for the last stage, which resulted in the 17th place of the last stage. In the GC we were ranked in the 19th spot overall and the 18th place of our category, with a total time of 20:12:55.8. Unfortunately the fastest master team was 4.3 seconds faster…
This result was enough to qualify for the ABSA Cape Epic, the biggest mountain bike stage race in the world! I always wanted to ride the Cape Epic once in my life, but I never dared to even dream about already taking part in 2019, when I’m only 20 years old! I’m already looking forward to the 700km and 13500m of climbing through the wilderness of South Africa!