The growth of mountain bike stage racing continues, with the newest such race, the Swiss Epic, announced for the Valais Alps in Switzerland on September 15-20, 2014.
The six-day Swiss Epic will take racers from Verbier through Leukerbad and Grächen and will end in Zermatt. With a distance of 400km and an elevation gain of 15,000 meters, the course will be a challenge to both professional and amateur riders.
This past weekend, more than 80 mountain bikers took the chance to preview some of the new race's route. Cross country world champion Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower) was among those in attendance at the race's launch and preview ride. He is looking forward to his own participation in 2014.
"What I like about the Swiss Epic, besides its attractive route, is that team spirit is also very important. In addition, Switzerland as a mountain bike country hasn't yet had a world class race - this will surely soon change," said Schurter.
The communities on the route are using the race as an opportunity to push mountain bike tourism in their regions.
"We're really honoured and excited to be a destination in the Swiss Epic. The event gives us the opportunity to work together with service providers in the region to establish a full range of mountain biking activities and routes as well as to make them known," said Daniel Luggen, Director of Zermatt Tourism.
The UCI has classified the Swiss Epic as an S2 race, and the race is being backed by title sponsor Perskindol, a product for muscle and joint discomfort, and by bike manufacturer Scott.
Behind the ambitious new mountain bike stage race is a high profile team of Joko Vogel, Dany Gehrig, and Thomas Frischknecht as well as project manager, Olivia Schoch.
The race's format of teams of two is unusual and one-of-a-kind in Switzerland. The total number of teams will be limited to 300, and there will be four categories: Ladies, Men, Mixed, and Masters.
A prologue will open the racing, followed by five stages.
Downhill bikers will be able to choose the somewhat shorter Swiss Epic Flow at 300km and just 8000 meters of climbing, with a shuttle service to transport bikes and riders.
Corporate teams' entries will support the project Rwanda Cycling through the contribution included in the registration fee.
For more information, visit www.swissepic.com.