Swiss Epic is a great adventure. The toughest stage race I ever did. The Swiss Epic is a huge challenge for every mountain biker. You have to be capable of riding uphill, but you also have to push hard in the flat. You need technical skills, in all kinds of terrain. The track is extremly tough, just like a mountain bike race should be. I think, Swiss Epic is the coolest thing, I ever did. I think, at Swiss Epic I will make some great mountain experiences with a good friend. Philipp has a background as a road biker and he is very talented in the uphill.
Stefans strength is to ride downhill fast. I have the advantage of being a trial rider. You learn a lot about control. We are a special mix of mountain bike professional and amateur rider. 2008 I was European champion under 23, vice world chanmpion and Olympic athlete. I am going to make Alexa suffer. She has to pedal until her tongue drops to the floor. Jochen is very experienced, you can learn a lot from him. Daniel is still young, but he is willing to get really good. The level is really strong, I think it will get tough. We definitely try to finish among the top 5. What we already know right now, it is going to be technically challenging. Today, was the longest stage, with 95 kilometers and 3000 vertical meters. The Scott riders, that is Nino, were going fast from the beginning. It was just like a cross country race, but 4 hours long. I had a great day, uphill as well as downhill. I only had one weak second, at a spot, where there were lots of different people. I dived right into the mud and that is why I need a complete cleaning of bike and clothes today. On a small bridge, my front wheel slipped away. I dropped down into this rocky creek, head first. Alexa called my name. As I turned around, she was standing down there in the hole. She talked to me and was totally normal.
I laughed, because it was funny, seeing here down there. A second later, she almost collapsed and then also I thought it wasn’t funny any more. I apologized about 200 times, maybe 2000 times. To sum it all up, I can ride on. The bike has a little damage, we are going to fix this. The bones are fine, so on we go! In the end, it was a tough fight, who has the most power until the finish. Today, we finished third. Now we will see, day by day, how it goes. This is gonna be epic! Today is the third day. Today, it was a shorter stage, but it was as tough as the others. Before the stage, I was worried how Alexa deal with that, after crashing yesterday. But this morning, she got here foot taped and in the downhills, she really let got of the brakes. At the end of the first uphill was a section, where you had to get off the bike. This is no fun. Absolutely no fun. Special highlight of today was the Bhutan bridge. Everybody screamed for joy. We had a great first downhill. Unfortunately, Stefan crashed. I rode on, until Philipp told me, that my riding is not fluid anymore, but my bleeding. The injury consists of two cuts, one of them needed three stitches. Stefan was so annoyed that he went really fast and in the end, we finished seventh. After coming back into the group, we immediately started to attack. And we won by 15 seconds. All in all, we are second now, with 1:10 behind Stöckli. I am feeling better now than yesterday. At breakfast, I noticed I am better than expected. After today’s stage, I am glad we decided to race again Even though, some people told me not to. But that was the right decision. Today, it was as tough as the other days. Now it is a duel between our team and the Stöckli riders Matthias Flückiger and Lukas Buchli. The only thing I can say every day, the singletrack was awesome really great, really beautiful, I do not find the words to describe it. Basically, it is a short marathon with a lot of downhill. Overall, it is really exhausting. And we did not really expect the uphills to be that tough. We were together in a group until 3 kilometers to the finish. But the final uphill to Grächen was so steep, that we couldn’t follow anymore. Today, we were 1:30 behind Stöckli. Therefore, we are definitely going to attack during the next days. On the first day, there was a lot of tension in the muscles. But as time goes by, it is getting more softer all the time. I was surprised by that.
I expected to work harder every stage. But actually, it is the opposite. It is getting more flexible and there is less for me to do. It is day four. No, five. On day five of Swiss Epic, fourth stage from Grächen to Grächen. Full speed, like the other days.
Awesome day. The second downhill was a beautiful singletrack with challenging switchbacks, really narrow. We had huge smile on our faces. In an easy section, it happened again and I had a second crash. I was waiting at the end of the downhill, but Alexa didn’t show up. I was lying down there and people were looking down. One of them called the ambulance. He said: She’s lying in the woods, not moving and her face is covered with blood. I was thinking: Really? Oh. Sometimes you do not notice, when you are in shock. Then I wiped my face with my glove and realized: This is not blood, but forest soil. I said to myself, I did so many stage races I quit so many stage races because of some stupid stuff but the Swiss Epic is not going to be one of them. And that one stage to Zermatt, I will cope with that. For sure. It’s way to cool here. And on with the wild ride! A perfect day for us. After 10 kilometers we managed to break out and extend our lead to four minutes. Now we took over the leader’s jersey. We have a lead of one minute on Stöckli. We hope to take that jersey now to Zermatt. “On the fourth stage, we have a change of leader in the categeory UCI Elite Men, it’s Team Centurion / Vaude. That would be totally awesome to win that race. As I already mentioned, it was a gnarly stage. It was the toughest stage of the race. Totally awesome. To be honest, I am glad it’s over. At that altitude, with these rocks and sublime Matterhorn, that was probably what a mountain biker should understand, if another mountain biker uses the word “epic”. I am losing my voices. But not because of talking, but because we were screaming for joy in the downhills. Today, I did a quick detour into the woods. I managed to catch myself, to slow down a bit. But finally, I had to take the turn into the shrubs. We lost a few seconds, but we quickly managed to catch up again with Stöckli. We came here and said, we are content, when we finish top 5. After the second stage, we realized we can compete for the first rank. Finally, we lost our leader’s jersey again and finished second. Considering the level of the starting field,
I didn’t expect us to finish second.
Therefore, I am really happy. Maybe the best moment was crossing the finish line. Because you made it, without injuries. Because there where so many great moments, that will always stay with you. But it is also an unhappy moment. Because it is over. I want a second week of Swiss Epic. I have to admit, I am glad it is over now. This week was one of the best of my life. In all those years of mountain biking, it was the greatest experience and I am really happy, having been part of this. Oh no. It was recording all the time.