South Africa’s most successful female marathon racer, Robyn de Groot and her Swiss teammate, Ariane Luthi have got the Swiss Epic stage race off to a winning start by claiming victory on the first two stages.
Robyn de Groot (left) and Ariane Luthi (Gabriel Technologie) win Stage 2.| Photo: Marius Holler/Swiss Epic
After years of rivalry in South African races, the pair partnered up for the 2021 five-day Swiss Epic, one of the most prestigious mountain bike stage races in the world and a part of the Epic Series of mountain bike stage races. Racing as Team Gabriel Technologie, De Groot and Luthi grabbed the early lead with victory on Stage 1 and then extended that lead on Wednesday’s Stage 2.
De Groot is a six-time South African marathon champion and bronze medallist at the 2019 UCI Marathon World Championships. Luthi , who is Swiss, but lived in South Africa for a number of years, is a five-time Absa Cape winner (twice in the Mixed and three times in the Women) and four-time Swiss marathon champion.
While relatively short in distance, the stages in the Swiss Epic all take place in the Swiss Alps, which means plenty of climbing and descending. In the five days of racing there is 327km of distance with 11000m of ascent and 12000m of descent!
Thursday’s Stage 3, the Queen Stage, takes the riders a distance of 75km from St Moritz to Davos with 2300m of ascent and 2500m of descent. Stages 4 and 5 incorporate loop stages starting and finishing in Davos.
De Groot and Luthi hold a 5min05sec lead going into Stage 3. Their primary rivals currently are Germany’s Adelheid Morath and her Austrian teammate, Angelika Tazreiter and the Italian pairing of Costanza Fasolis and Claudia Peretti.
For more information on the 2021 Swiss Epic, click here. https://swiss-epic.com
The Swiss Epic is probably the world’s most scenic mountain bike stage race. Photo: Marius Holler/Swiss Epic
Ariane Luthi (50-1) and Robyn de Groot (50-2) lead the women’s pack on Stage 2.Photo: Marius Holler/Swiss Epic
The Swiss Epic route incorporates a high percentage of singletrack. Photo: Marius Holler/Swiss Epic
Ariane Luthi powers up a steep climb. Photo: Marius Holler/Swiss Epic
The Swiss Epic takes riders high into the Alps. Photo: Marius Holler/Swiss Epic
A happy Robyn de Groot speaks to the media. Photo: Marius Holler/Swiss Epic