The six-day mountain bike stage race PERSKINDOL SWISS EPIC takes place for the third time from 12 to 17 September 2016, leading participants once again through the fantastic mountain landscape of the Valais from Zermatt to Verbier via Leukerbad. Despite the Olympics, many international top male and female professional mountain bikers have already confirmed their participation.
The SCOTT-Odlo MTB racing team already announced at the beginning of April that former and reigning world champion Nino Schurter would once again be appearing in PERSKINDOL SWISS EPIC from 12 to 17 September 2016. However, Nino Schurter will not race alongside Dutchman Michiel van der Heijden as originally announced. Instead, he will ride together with the Swiss athlete Matthias Stirnemann, who finished sixth at the World Championships in Nové Město. Michiel van der Heijden will be on the starting line with Andri Frischknecht.
Reigning and former world champions among the starting field:
More big names have already registered in other teams, too. Team Specialized is entering prominent Swiss athlete Christoph Sauser, who – as a multiple world champion and Olympic medal winner – is one of the most successful mountain bikers of all time. He is pairing up with current U23 world champion Sam Gaze from New Zealand. The Multivan Merida team also has a top-quality duo competing: former world champion José Hermida from Spain will be appearing alongside Thomas Litscher of Switzerland, whose accolades include 2007 junior world champion. BMC also has two strong Swiss teams signed up: Lukas Flückiger and Lars Forster, and Martin Fanger with Reto Indergand.
Swiss Epic runners-up from 2014 and 2015 Jochen Käss and Daniel Geismayr of the Centurion Vaude team have also already confirmed their participation and are this year’s favourites to win. The Topeak Ergon racing team cyclists Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek have also confirmed that they will be competing again. The former marathon world champion and former European marathon champion took third place last year.
Jolanda Neff stirs things up among the women
The women’s starting field also has a number of top athletes already confirmed: Jolanda Neff – the multiple cross country and marathon world champion who is currently dominating the female mountain bike scene – will be competing for the Stöckli Pro team alongside Alessandra Keller. The women’s defending SWISS EPIC champion and reigning European champion Sally Bigham of the Topeak Ergon racing team already confirmed her repeat participation back in April.
Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek
Other special teams
As well as the pro athletes mentioned, a few other notable participants are confirmed for the third PERSKINDOL SWISS EPIC. Belgian one-legged cyclist Arnout Matthys, for example, will be competing in the SWISS EPIC format. Two young Nepalese cyclists, Ajay Pandit Chettry and Aayman Tamang, will be competing to raise awareness of their charity project Ride to Rescue, which is raising money for construction projects in Nepal following the devastating 2015 earthquake. Martina Aitolehti and Katariina Laakkonen from Finland form a notable female team. Martina holds various national beauty pageant titles and is a model, singer and TV star. Katariina was a successful triathlete in the 90s and a famous TV presenter on the show Gladiators. She brought BMX sport to Finland and is today involved in the promotion of young Finnish cyclists.
Another already announced duo is former pro and PERSKINDOL SWISS EPIC co-initiator Thomas Frischknecht and his racing partner Ralph Näf, who retired from top-level mountain biking last year. They will race as charity team Greenhope, a project helping to fight childhood cancer. Swiss mountain bike magazine RIDE also already announced its special team in April: Alex Fiva, 2013 ski cross world cup winner, and snowboarding professional Nevin Galmarini, who won silver in the parallel giant slalom at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. PERSKINDOL SWISS EPIC 2016 is therefore set to be an extremely exciting event!
For more details about the race and schedule, Visit: http://swissepic.com/