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Langvad and Batten, Schurter and Forster take Swiss Epic

Scott-SRAM and Specialized Racing dominate the five-stage race in the first major event since the COVID stoppage.

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Multiple world champions Annika Langvad and Nino Schurter took victories at the Swiss Epic stage race Saturday in what was the first major international mountain bike race of the restarted season.

Schurter and Scott-SRAM teammate Lars Forster took four out of five stages in the men’s event, dominating the race to win the overall by over 10 minutes.

“It’s a beautiful victory,” Schurter said Saturday. “It’s different to winning a cross country race or even the Absa Cape Epic, because of all the climbing. I’m really happy to have the Swiss Epic victory on my palmarès.”

Schurter’s home victory served to allay any doubts he may have had having not raced since last August’s Mont-Sainte-Anne world championships.

“The entire week went almost perfectly, we had no mechanicals or punctures and secured four stage wins,” he said. “I’ll admit, coming into the race there was a question mark as to how Lars [Forster] and I would climb those mountains. Having answered those questions, I’m really happy with the stage victories and the overall title.”

Team Trek-Pirelli 1 was Shurter and Forster’s closest rivals, pushing the pair on three of the five stages but undoing their hard work with a poor second stage.

Langvad and American teammate Haley Batten were equally dominant for Specialized Racing in the women’s event, winning every stage to better nearest chasers Centurion Vaude Radon by nearly 40 minutes over the five days.

Although the pair crushed the overall standings, their unbeaten run was put under threat on the final stage, with team Andermatt Spur keeping them to within two minutes at the finish in Davos.

“I’m very proud of our performance here, at the Swiss Epic,” Langvad said Saturday. “We rode super smart and super smooth. We worked at getting the most out of each other’s strengths, so it’s really rewarding when that pays off. But I knew going into the stage that it’s never over until you cross the final finish line. Today, we had two flat tires which made the day that bit more challenging and stressful.”

The pair’s second flat came when Batten had a slow puncture less than 10 kilometers from the finish line. “Fortunately, it was a slow puncture and we were able to pump it and nurse it to the finish,” Langvad said.

“Today I tried to take it all in,” said Utah native Batten. “To be able to share this experience and victory with Annika [Langvad] and the whole team is really special. It was epic all round!”

Men’s GC after stage 5

1. Scott-SRAM: Nino Schurter & Lars Forster: 15:13:44
2. Trek-Pirelli 1: Fabian Rabensteiner & Samuele Porro: +10:32
3. Future Cycling Northwave: Kristian Hynek & Martin Stošek: +16:46

Women’s GC after stage 5

1. Specialized Racing: Annika Langvad & Haley Batten: 19:08:09
2. Centurion Vaude Radon: Stefanie Dohrn & Elisabeth Brandau: +38:19
3. Andermatt Spur: Ariane Lüthi & Alice Pirard: +45:27