By securing their third stage victory in a row, Specialized – Racing’s Annika Langvad and Haley Batten are well on track to claiming a perfect score at the 2020 Swiss Epic.
It is with good reason that Specialized – Racing’s Annika Langvad is considered the Queen of Stage Racing. In 7 Epic Series starts she has won an astonishing 39, from a possible 48, stages. On Stage 3 of the 2020 Swiss Epic – which started and finished in Arosa on Thursday, 20 August – the Dane once again reigned supreme. She and America’s Haley Batten secured their third win of the race.
The only time on Stage 3 that the Specialized – Racing combination was in any difficulty was in the first 10 kilometres of the day. Centurion Vaude Radon used their superior climbing ability to briefly distance Langvad and Batten. As on the previous 2 stages, Stefanie Dohrn and Elisabeth Brandau were eager to attack the race leaders on any long climb. Rising from Arosa in the valley to 2 400 metres above sea level, at the Hörnli Ski Station, the first climb of the day was long and brutally steep in places.
Langvad and Batten were content to let Dohrn and Brandau slip away, knowing that they would be able to reel the German combination in on the singletrack that followed. Only 4 kilometres separated Hörnli Ski Station from the highest point of the race, at Gredigs Fürggli, but in that time Specialized – Racing turned a 40-second deficit into a 1 minute and 20-second lead.
From there, Langvad and Batten never looked back. They inexorably extended their lead to 8 minutes and 2 seconds, by the time they crossed the finish line in Arosa. Behind them, second place changed hands; when Sophie von Berswordt-Wallrabe and Jacqueline Schneebeli overtook Centurion Vaude Radon. Further back, the battle for fourth saw the Maloja Pushbikers and Andermatt Spur locked in a titanic tussle.
Specialized – Racing’s eventual winning time was 2 hours 57 minutes and 19 seconds. It would take a brave person to bet on Langvad not adding further stage wins to her palmarès in the next 2 days. Especially given her bullish attitude to racing. “It never gets boring [winning stages], because it’s never easy to win a stage of an Epic Series race” she responded to the question of if she ever tires of winning.
Another factor in her success appears to be her enjoyment of racing her bike. “The course was really nice today, even though it started very tough” Langvad explained. “We started really high above sea level in Arosa and then climbed to well above 2 000 metres. The technical trails at that altitude were very challenging, as you can feel the lack of oxygen with every breath you take. But we raced well together again today. We caught Stefanie Dohrn and Elisabeth Brandau in the first singletracks. Thereafter we were able to open up a nice gap, which I didn’t realise was so big until we crossed the finish line. We thought they were closer so we pinned it all the way to the finish.”
Pinning it all the way to the finish line resulted in Langvad and Batten extending their overall lead to 25 minutes and 44 seconds over Dohrn and Brandau. Ariane Lüthi and Alice Pirard’s fifth place on the stage was enough to keep them in third overall, 32 minutes and 34 seconds behind the women in orange. The Andermatt Spur team’s podium spot is at risk, however, as Maloja Pushbikers are now just 3 minutes and 38 seconds behind them. jb BRUNEX Felt Factory 2’s von Berswordt-Wallrabe and Schneebeli round out the top 5 on the women’s general classification.
The Queen Stage, of the 2020 Swiss Epic, could well shake up the standings; though it seems unlikely that Specialized – Racing can be knocked off the top spot. The 74-kilometre stage, from Arosa to Davos, takes in 2 700 metres of climbing and crests the 2 000 metres above sea level mark on three occasions. To follow the action, live from Graubünden, mountain biking fans can tune in once again from 08:00 (Central European Summer Time/GMT +2) on Friday, 21 August.
2020 Swiss Epic Results (women)
Specialized – Racing: Annika Langvad & Haley Batten (2:57:19)
jb BRUNEX Felt Factory Team 2: Sophie von Berswordt-Wallrabe & Jacqueline Schneebeli (3:05:21 | +8:02)
Centurion Vaude Radon : Stefanie Dohrn & Elisabeth Brandau (3:07:40 | +10:22)
Maloja Pushbikers: Linda Indergand & Karla Stepanova (3:10:33 | +13:16)
Andermatt Spur: Ariane Lüthi & Alice Pirard (3:11:12 | +13:56)
General Classification after Stage 3 (women)
Specialized – Racing: Annika Langvad & Haley Batten (10:57:33)
Centurion Vaude Radon: Stefanie Dohrn & Elisabeth Brandau (11:23:17 | +25:44)
Andermatt Spur: Ariane Lüthi & Alice Pirard (11:30:07 | +32:34)
Maloja Pushbikers: Linda Indergand & Karla Stepanova (11:33:45 | +36:12)
jb BRUNEX Felt Factory 2: Sophie von Berswordt-Wallrabe & Jacqueline Schneebeli (11:40:19 | +42:46)
Source: Swiss Epic