The 2022 SPAR Swiss Epic got underway in the Alpine resort village of Arosa, in Graubünden’s Schanfigg Valley, on Tuesday, 16 August.
Wilier Pirelli Factory’s Fabian Rabensteiner and Daniel Geismayr won the opening stage in dominant fashion, while behind them the battle for second and third was contested in a sprint. In the women’s race, across the 59 kilometre long course, the Davos Klosters Women were fastest with Bettina Janas and Adelheid Morath adding to their collection of stage victories as a partnership.
Clear skies and pristine alpine views greeted the 410 teams who started the 2022 edition as they set out on the circular route, which started and finished in Arosa. Along with spectacular descents the stage included testing climbing, reiterating that the race through Graubünden will reward the most balanced teams overall. The ascents past the Arosa Bear Sanctuary, and to the Jantesch Boden as well as the Sandböden allowed the climbers to test their legs. Though the best descenders were rewarded too, especially on the scintillating Hörnli Trail back down towards the race village.
Geismayr was unquestionably the strongest and most well-rounded performer on the day. “Today Daniel was impressively strong,” his partner Rabensteiner praised. “I missed a bit of freshness today, perhaps because of the hard training we did at altitude until three days ago. But I still feel good and Daniel was super strong, so I just had to follow him.”
“I’m feeling really good,” Geismayr smiled. “With all the trails in the course we had a lot of fun today. We rode a good pace on the climbs, but didn’t go too fast. We never attacked, but just rode our pace and found ourselves on our own, which gave us a good feeling. To be able to win the first stage is always super good.”
The margin of Wilier Pirelli Factory’s victory can only increase the good sensations for Rabensteiner and Geismayr. The European and Austrian marathon champions put the Singer Racing Team of Martin Frey and Simon Stiebjahn on the back foot, by finishing 3 minutes and 40 seconds ahead of the Germans on Stage 1. Dario Cherchi and Martino Tronconi, of KTM ALCHEMIST & ATTITUDE, were third on the day; 3 seconds behind Frey and Stiebjahn. BUFF MEGAMO, who were among the major pre-race favourites, will be disappointed to have conceded nearly 7 minutes on the opening stage. Hans Becking and Jose Dias thus have a significant task ahead of them if they are to ride themselves into contention for the overall victory, by the time the SPAR Swiss Epic reaches Davos.
Having endured a horror start to the 2019 race, when they needed to recover from a 15 minute deficit after two stages to win the overall title, Janas and Morath were flawless on the first stage this year. The Davos Klosters team powered up the 2 250 metres of climbing that the day presented and flew through the singletracks. “It was just a perfect day,” Morath explained. “We took it quite relaxed in the beginning but I worked a lot in the group. Then on the second climb, to Jantesch Boden, we managed to make a gap and then just kept going, kept concentrating and having fun on the bike!”
“It was an amazing day; with stunning views, nice trails and technical parts,” the two-time winner concluded. Speaking about their approach to defending the lead they have now established, Janas added: “We will follow our plan, as we did today; keep concentrating, don’t over do it but ride our own rhythm as smoothly as we can. And also enjoy the trails.”
The Davos Klosters Women’s enjoyment produced a margin of victory of 5 minutes and 10 seconds, over Efficient Infiniti Insure / Rare Street Coffee, on Stage 1. Namibia’s Vera Looser, who finished just outside the medals at the Commonwealth Games road race, and Kim Le Court, of Mauritius, were second. While Janina Wüst and Debora Piana, of MTB Pro Merchandising - Team Cingolani, rounded out the stage podium.
Stage 2, on Wednesday 17 August, takes the teams from Arosa to Laax. It is a 79 kilometre marathon day with 2 600 metres of climbing and 3 150 metres of accumulated metres of descending. Highlights include the 8 kilometre long FLOWLINE trail into Lenzerheide and the race along the magnificent Rhine Gorge. To follow the action, as it unfolds, visit www.epic-series.com/swissepic or tune in to the live stream on the Epic Series YouTube channel from 07:10.
To view the full results please click here