Today was the longest and toughest stage, the regular Epic had to ride 100km and 3200 vertical meters of climbing.
For us in the Flow category, the menu consisted of 3 race stages with a total of 65km, 1450 vertical meters of climbing (officially) and 4500m of downhill sweetness!
I can tell you that we lost a good amount of brake pad dust but luckily we had no technical issue, if you don’t consider Andrea getting some nasty flexible branch in between the smallest cogs. But this doesn’t really count.
The Start was early in the morning, lining up at the gondola station at 8:00 o’clock and a temperature of 3°C. All of the Flow racers were cheering to the Epic start groups that were passing by to make the first long climb to Croix de Fer.
So our race started at 8:30 at the mountain station Les Ruinettes at 2200m altitude, and soon running into the field of Epic racers at Croix de Fer.
Great descent but unfortunately packed with people…so we had to manage somehow to keep the fast flow!
The finish of the first stage was all the way down in the Rhone valley. There we checked out and took a short rest and shuttle to the next stage.
Stage 2 race start was individual and we decided to head out as soon as possible to avoid the mix with the Epic groups.
This was a good decision – even though, big surprise, the Epic leader teams caught us in the very first descend going down to the Suonen trails!
This was pretty incredible, since many of them are on hardtails and don’t have dropper seat posts. But still they are pushing so hard on the descends that you think they don’t hang on their lives too much.
The famous Suonen trails followed (world cultural heritage) and this was tough and sweet at the same time: endless twisty singletracks, going up a tiny bit next to the Suonen water channels and eating every single bit of our leg and arm and brain power. There, towards the end, Andrea overlooked one stump and got caught in a tree. But no serious issue just a few extra souvenir scratches on his arm.
Stage 3 was the desert for today and we took the Rinderhütte Bahn to go up. Then we waited in the heated gondola station until the track was clear. We raced the fresh flow trail down, followed by some more decent mountain trails and heading back to Leukerbad. Not an easy job for Andrea who didn’t ride a flow trail with berms ever in his life.
We managed to finish on third place today. A healthy big piece of Swiss raclette cheese was the price for today’s pain and thrills!
In the overall ranking we are still on second and will fight hard again to keep this place for the rest of the week.
You can find all race results at datasports or tractalis websites.